The Central Biobank Platform provides support to the different biobank modules of Sciensano. These Sciensano Biobank modules are available for internal as well as external scientists who want to do research involving human body material and require a biobanking facility. Samples can be registered, processed, stored and made available for scientific research, according to the applicable ethical and legal framework for biobanks. As a Central Biobank Platform, we can offer advice and operational support to these scientific projects in terms of biobanking activities. Requests for re-use of samples stored in the Sciensano Biobank will be evaluated based on the proposed research project. Samples will only be made available for proposed research projects of external researchers after approval of the medical manager of the involved Sciensano Biobank module and the Sciensano unit / department that was in charge of the primary study (i.e. the study collecting and using the samples for the first time).

The Re-Place project is part of the Service Risk and Health Impact Assessment – Scientific Directorate Chemical & Physical Health Risks part of the Unit of Experimental Toxicology.

RE-Place is an open access database that centralizes the available expertise on the use of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) in Belgium. These NAMs are innovative methods and technologies that can help to replace and/or reduce animal testing in biomedical research and regulatory testing. They include, amongst others, in vitro, in silico and in chemico methods. Due to their rapid development pace, (young) scientists may face difficulties in finding relevant, reliable, and up-to-date information on NAMs in a fast and efficient way.

RE-Place offers a reliable and up-to-date inventory where each method is associated with the name and affiliation of the scientist who has developed and/or uses the NAM. By providing a direct point of contact, RE-Place encourages networking activities among the Belgian scientific community. The RE-Place team also organizes several initiatives to promote the use and development of NAMs including study days, symposia and webinars.

RE-Place is thus an important tool for scientists, ethical committees, regulators, and the authorities to learn more about what is today scientifically feasible with NAMs. On the other hand, it supports scientists to set-up new collaborations and accelerate networking activities. Both activities will help to build trust in the use of NAMs and support the replacement of animal testing in the long term.

RE-Place is a joint project between Sciensano and VUB. The coordination is shared between both partners.

Part of the Scientific Directorate Infectious Diseases in Humans.
• Serology platform – ELISA & Multiplex (Bordetella pertussis, toxigenic Corynebacteria, SARS-CoV-2, measles, TB, …)
• Cellular platform – Proliferation assays; T & B cell Elispot (SARS-CoV-2, rabies,…)
• Neutralisation platform – viral pseudoparticles (SARS-CoV-2, measles, mumps, New Castle Disease)
• Molecular platform for protein production (human (re-) emerging pathogens
• Animal platform – in vivo models

The unit electron microscopy is part of the service “Trace Elements and Nanomaterials” (Trace elements and nanomaterials | of the scientific direction “Chemical and Physical Health Risks” Chemical and physical health risks | of Sciensano.

We characterise the physicochemical properties of nanomaterials in a regulatory context, using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and focusing on nanomaterials in the food chain, medicines, cosmetics and the (working) environment.

Thanks to our expertise in TEM analysis, we are able to make pictures (electron micrographs) of particles at a nanometric (nm) scale. Based on these pictures, we assess the size of the particles and describe their morphology, aggregation and agglomeration state and their crystallinity. The presence of contaminants and impurities can also be visualised.

In addition to that, we use image analysis to measure the size, shape and surface properties of individual nanoparticles. When using analytical TEM, we can simultaneously evaluate the size, shape, morphology and the chemical composition of nanoparticles with a nanometric resolution. Thanks to this technique, we can identify and measure specific particles in complex matrices like food, cosmetics, medicines and the environment.

The above-described information is mandatory to identify nanomaterials, as well as for their registration and the risk analysis of their applications.

Part of the Scientific Directorate Biological Health Risks – Head department: Philippe Herman (
Part of the Scientific Service Transversal Activities in Applied Genomics – Head: Nancy Roosens (

Part of the Scientific Directorate Chemical & Physical Health Risks.

Includes sequencing platforms and core facilities (qPCR, ddPCR …). Part of the service Transversal activities in Applied Genomics (TAG).
Head: Nancy Roosens (
Scientific Directorate Biological Health Risks. Head: Philippe Herman (

The Human Embryonic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Unit (HSCU) specializes in:

  1. Human embryonic stem cell (ESC) culture, maintenance and differentiation
  2. Generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from somatic cells using cell reprogramming technologies
  3. Directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (ESC, iPSC) for the development of 2D and 3D cellular systems for modeling brain development and pathology.

The HSCU, in the context of collaborative projects or service contracts, offers:
Preclinical drug evaluation in human iPSC-based models of neurodegenerative diseases

  1. Generation of iPSC
  2. Development of iPSC-derived cellular systems
  3. Training in human stem cell culture principles, maintenance, and directed differentiation
  4. Training in the analysis of iPSC-derived cellular systems of human neurodegenerative diseases
  5. Consultancy for project development, protocol establishment, experimental design, troubleshooting

The Biotechnology Unit has extensive know-how on the production of soluble and membrane bound proteins in heterologous expression systems for structural and functional studies and is a member of the INSPIRED research infrastructure.

The currently available expression systems include bacterial, yeast, insect & mammalian cell systems. Large-scale production of proteins expressed in yeast and bacteria cells can be conducted in the fermenter unit.

Expressed recombinant proteins are purified through affinity, size exclusion or ion exchange chromatography, using FPLC systems.

The purified proteins can be subjected to crystallization in our crystallization robot. Data collection is carried out in synchrotron facilities, where HPI routinely acquires access and funding via the iNext-Discovery platform ( Structure determination and analysis is performed using standard crystallographic software (XDS, CCP4, Phenix, Coot etc.)

The main activity of TTL is the generation of genetically modified mice by using cutting-edge transgenic technologies with the aim to establish models for human diseases, as well as to perform preclinical drug evaluations in terms of high quality services or research collaborations to the national and international research community.