KU Leuven News
22 February 2017 - Little is known about the heaviest, radioactive elements in Mendeleev’s table. But an extremely sensitive technique involving laser light and gas jets makes it possible for the very first time to gain insight into their atomic and nuclear structure. An international team led by scientists from the Institute for Nuclear and Radiation Physics at KU Leuven report these findings in Nature Communications.
15 February 2017 - “Each year, our honorary doctorates bring a little academic warmth in the middle of winter,” said Rector Rik Torfs in his Patron Saint's Day speech. An early burst of spring even added some extra warmth to the 2017 edition. This didn’t go unnoticed by this year’s honourees, who received an honorary doctorate for their important insights and for their stubborn efforts to disseminate and defend them.
On the occasion of its Patron Saint's Day, KU Leuven will once again award a number of honorary doctorates. This year, the celebrations will take place on Wednesday 15 February 2016. We are happy to present our new honorary doctors in the interviews below.
13 February 2017 - The European Union activated its Galileo satellite navigation system in December 2016. The EU is dedicated to setting this system apart from other navigation systems such as GPS – the US counterpart of Galileo. Researchers from the Department of Electrical Engineering at KU Leuven have now risen to this challenge as well: they designed authentication features that will make it even more difficult to send out false Galileo signals.
13 February 2017 - An international team led by Patrik Verstreken has identified one of the mechanisms underlying early onset Parkinson’s disease. By blocking a specific protein, the researchers were able to change the composition of the mitochondria or 'energy factories' of the nerve cells. This reduced the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Thousands of international students come to Leuven each year. With initiatives including Orientation Days and the Buddy Programme, KU Leuven ensures that these students receive a warm welcome.
6 February 2017 - Thyroid hormones are very important for the development of the brain. And when the transporters of these hormones are not functioning properly, the consequences for the development of the cerebellum or ‘the little brain’ are very serious. These are the findings of a study by researchers from KU Leuven and King’s College London.
26 January 2017 - Eye surgeons at University Hospitals Leuven have been the first to use a surgical robot to operate on a patient with retinal vein occlusion. The robot uses a needle of barely 0.03 millimetre to inject a thrombolytic drug into the patient’s retinal vein. KU Leuven developed the robot and needle specifically for this procedure.
For over thirty years, American immunologists James Allison (68) and Carl June (63) were met with disbelief and even ridicule. But in the past years they have cured cancer patients in such a miraculous way that there’s no denying it anymore: they have revolutionized the fight against the disease. “Never underestimate the power of our own immune system.”
Five hundred years ago, there were rumblings in religious Europe – which, at the time, meant more or less the same as political Europe. The fuse of the powder keg was lit by the work of Maarten Luther, an Augustinian friar and young professor at a university – not even a famous one – somewhere in what is now the eastern part of Germany. In Catholic Europe, he became the devil incarnate in a matter of years, but for what would end up to be hundreds of millions of believers, he ‘reformed’ religion into what it was supposed to be. Honorary doctor Theodor – Theo – Dieter has been studying Luther his entire life.
Small-scale agriculture: appealing though it may sound, it’s not going to feed the world. The Dutch professor and author Louise O. Fresco does not fight shy of speaking the – sometimes counterintuitive – truth. She is all too aware that food is about emotion, but facts are still facts. “Generalising moral statements such as ‘sugar is bad’: scientists should steer clear of them.”
23 January 2016 - For 30 years now, KU Leuven has been home to an impressive collection of bananas that already contains over 1,500 samples and is the biggest in its kind. The technology used to preserve this collection may be applied to various other crops as well.
18 January 2016 - A multidisciplinary team of researchers at KU Leuven has developed a dental implant that gradually releases drugs from a built-in reservoir. This helps prevent and fight infections.
12 January 2017 - “At the university, you will not only get to know Europe, but also shape it: with your curiosity, dedication and drive, and by exchanging ideas.” With a warm appeal to the current generation of students, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a joint honorary doctorate from KU Leuven and Ghent University.
6 January 2017 - Do people have more casual sex because of Tinder? Doctoral student Elisabeth Timmermans set out to find the answer: “One in two users already met one of their Tinder matches in real life. In a third of these cases, this led to sex.”
22 December 2016 - Scientific breakthroughs, exciting events, and a little bit of folly: that is 2016 in a nutshell. To celebrate another wonderful year at KU Leuven, we compiled a list of the most popular stories published in 2016. Discover them in this interactive image or scroll down for this year's top 10. Happy News Year!
22 December 2016 - Toxicologist and pharmacologist Jan Tytgat examines the harmful effects of various substances on human beings, food, and the environment. And he takes this knowledge with him when he enters a bar or a restaurant. “I’ll never make a scene about it, but I always frown if I get a drink with a slice of lemon in it.”
20 December 2016 - Breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body relatively late, new research shows. This leaves more time than expected to treat the cancer before it spreads. These late-to-spread cells are also genetically similar to the cells of the diagnosed tumour in the breast, which may help choose the most effective treatment.
19 December 2016 - As part of its Patron Saint’s Day celebrations, KU Leuven traditionally confers a number of honorary doctorates in recognition of extraordinary scientific, social, or cultural achievements. On 15 February 2017, the university will award honorary doctorates to five people who excel in their domain.