The VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology combines basic research on microorganisms with translational research and industrial valorization. Using our extensive knowledge of molecular biology and biochemistry, the center’s research provides novel insights into prokaryotic and eukaryotic biology, ecology, genetics, genomics, metabolism, and pathology. In addition, we are creating superior industrial microbes and microbial products, and are developing novel antibiotics and treatment schemes to fight resistant pathogenic microbes.


The KU Leuven - VIB Center for Microbiology is a global leader in the field of microbiology.  Our goals are to 1) better understand microbial physiology, genetics, evolution, and ecology, for both benign and pathogenic microbes; 2) use microbes as models to unravel general biological mechanisms and systems, and 3) pursue industrial and clinical applications of microbes, microbial communities and microbial products (including novel antibiotics, probiotics, and the development of superior industrial microorganisms).

Microorganisms are important models systems for cells of higher organisms (like humans), and many of lifeʻs basic mechanisms were first discovered in unicellular life forms. Research at our center aims to increase our understanding of microbes and their interactions with higher-order organisms and translate this knowledge into environmental, industrial, and medical applications. We study pathogenic microbes to develop new and improved antibiotics to control infectious disease; beneficial microbes and their impacts on digestion and human health; and industrial microbes for their production of fermented foods and beverages like cheese, beer, and wine.

Funding and partners

Our research is funded by the Flemish government and several (inter)national funding bodies. Additionally, our research is supported by numerous charity organizations that recognize the importance of combining fundamental and clinical research to generate therapeutic breakthroughs. Our center also has multiple collaborations with industrial partners.

Our partners:

EC Horizon 2020    ERC grants    EMBO    BAEF    NIH


Expertise and impact

Our key areas include:

  • Sensing and signaling mechanisms
  • Microbial metabolism and metabolites
  • Molecular mechanisms underlying evolution and genetic change
  • Microbial ecology and microbial populations
  • Antibiotic resistance and persistence
  • Generation of superior industrial microbes
  • Applications of synthetic biology in microbes
  • Clinical microbiology and microbiome research

These areas correspond with our current research groups that are each led by world-renowned experts in their respective fields. Every year, our team publishes more than 50 papers in top scientific journals, including Cell, Science, and Nature. The findings of our research frequently translate into several patent applications per year providing a significant income for the center and the founding of multiple start-up companies and industrial partnerships.

Kevin Verstrepen, Director

Explore our science, meet our people

Little things make a big difference.

At the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology, we aim to understand the smaller organisms with which we share our world. Our researchers have unearthed countless mysteries of the microbial world and continually push the envelope of cutting edge research. Browse through our 2020 brochure to learn more about what our 6 different research groups are up to.

Download the brochure


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