I grew up in a small town in Belgium. I love(d) being active, so after high school, I decided to study Kinesiology (BSc, MSc) and Education (MEd) to become a PhysEd teacher. I soon realized, though, that my true interest was more in public health research. Hence, I continued my graduate studies and obtained a PhD in Medical Science (Epidemiology) at the University of Leuven (Belgium) in 2001, on the fetal origins of adult disease using a twin design.
An award of the Belgian American Educational Foundation allowed me to do a postdoctoral fellowship at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge (LA, USA), in Dr Claude Bouchard’s Human Genetics lab, where I aimed to identify genes for energy expenditure and fat oxidation through linkage and association studies.
After my postdoc, in July 2005, I moved to the UK and joined the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge to become Group Leader of the Genetic Aetiology of Obesity Programme.
In December 2011, I returned to the US to join the Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where I am a tenured Professor, leading the Genetics of Obesity and Related Metabolic Traits Program. I am also a co-Director of the Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine and co-ordinate numerous scientific collaborations that involve Mount Sinai's BioMe Biobank.
I have never stopped loving being physically active, though. These days, you can find me running every morning in Central Park.