Research funding

The GIGA-CRC-Human Imaging receives exceptional funding from the ROGER DE SPOELBERCH Foundation for a large-scale project on Alzheimer's disease. 

In Research
Amyloid protein deposition ((18F)flutemetamol-PET) in a patient with Alzheimer's disease (top) and in a healthy elderly participant (bottom)

The Swiss ROGER DE SPOELBERCH Foundation has just awarded a grant to the GIGA CRC-Human Imaging at the University of Liège to support their COHORTE ROGER DE SPOELBERCH project, which focuses on the impact of the neuroinflammation process on the neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease. The funding will also enable the acquisition of small equipment for the GIGA Cyclotron radiochemistry platform and large cutting-edge equipment for the 7 Tesla MRI of the GIGA In Vivo Imaging platform. A study involving 200 participants will extend over a period of ten years. 


he COHORTE ROGER DE SPOELBERCH research project, led by researchers from the GIGA-CRC Human Imaging, aims to better understand the impact of the neuroinflammation process on the neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease and the associated cognitive changes. "Recent developments in animal research suggest that detecting the presence of neuroinflammation in the brain is a particularly promising avenue for early diagnosis of the disease," explains Fabienne Collette, Research Director of F.R.S.-FNRS at GIGA CRC Human Imaging. "Currently, interventions aimed at countering its development by targeting the deposition of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins are administered too late to be truly effective. Identifying a risk factor, here the presence of neuroinflammation in the brain, on which we could act early, well before the deposition of abnormal proteins is detected, should delay the onset of the disease." 

From radiochemistry to human cognition 

The aim of the researchers at the University of Liège is also to implement non-ionizing neuroimaging tools in MRI that can be used in routine clinical practices in the long term. "The first two years of the project will be devoted to identifying and validating a new radioligand for signalling the neuroinflammation processes," says Gilles Vandewalle, Research Director of F.R.S.-FNRS at GIGA CRC Human Imaging. "During the following three years, cognitive and neuroimaging measures - via 7 Tesla MRI and PET scans - will be collected in a large sample including healthy participants with a known polygenic risk for Alzheimer's disease as well as patients in the prodromal (or early) phase of the disease." 

COHORTE GIGA Human imaging 2

Deposition of amyloid (left) and tau (right) proteins in a group of elderly participants.

Ten years of follow-up 

The 200 participants planned to be included in the study will then be followed for a period of ten years (in part through other financial support). In a clinical translation perspective, machine learning techniques will be used to identify equivalents to neuroinflammation markers highlighted with 7 Tesla research MRI on a 3 Tesla MRI (commonly used in clinical settings). "This will ultimately allow direct benefits for clinical practice, as examinations in 3T MRI are more easily feasible than ionizing examinations on PET scanners," adds Fabienne Collette. 

The infrastructure of the GIGA-Cyclotron and GIGA-In Vivo Imaging platforms and the complementary expertise of its principal investigators at the GIGA-CRC Humain Imaging research group constitute a unique environment in which this ambitious project can be successfully carried out. Beyond this research project, the researchers at the GIGA-CRC-Human Imaging plan to extend this approach to other neurodegenerative diseases for which neuroinflammation could also be an early determinant, such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. 

Recruitment of participants for this project will begin within two years. However, the GIGA-In Vivo Imaging platform at the University of Liège constantly seeks motivated volunteers to participate in various neuroscience research projects. Interested individuals can obtain more information by phone at 04 366 3212 or 04 366 9998 or by email.


The ROGER DE SPOELBERCH Foundation is a foundation based in Geneva whose purpose is the financing and encouragement of research and assistance in the field of neurodegenerative diseases in general, and certain psychiatric diseases severely affecting human behavior, such as schizophrenia. 

It aims to encourage medical and scientific research to accelerate the discovery of new means to combat these diseases. To this end, the Foundation awards an annual prize, the "ROGER DE SPOELBERCH" prize, to a research project selected by its scientific committee and carried out notably in European university hospitals. 

Furthermore, the Foundation aims to provide useful assistance to patients with neurodegenerative diseases, the hospital or clinical structures hosting them, and their families. 

The Foundation is apolitical, non-denominational, and does not limit its actions geographically, although it aims to concentrate its efforts on the European territory in the first instance. The annual "ROGER DE SPOELBERCH" prize was first awarded in 2009. 

Contacts at ULiège 

Fabienne COLLETTE  



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