Katholieke Universteit Leuven

The Department of Human Genetics and the Genomics Core are embedded in the biomedical faculty of the KU Leuven and in the University Hospitals, Belgium’s largest hospital. The group actively translates technology developments into clinical practice.

The Laboratory for Cytogenetics and Genome Research has been a pioneer in array development and implementation and is currently developing methods for massive parallel sequencing applications in preimplantation, prenatal and postnatal constitutional and cancer diagnosis.The research focuses on single-cell genomics and gene/mechanism discovery in rare genetic diseases.

The Laboratory of Reproductive Genomics focuses on molecular and computational method development for single-cell sequence analysis as well as the application of these methods to study DNA mutation and the biology of cellular heterogeneity in health and disease. In particular, the group is at the cutting edge of methods development for single-cell genome and multi-omics sequence analyses, and for instance developed G&T-seq, enabling parallel genome and transcriptome sequencing of the same single cell.

The research team at KU Leuven will provide access to innovative single-cell, and cell-free circulating DNA sequencing, advanced long-read/linked-reads haplotyping and integrative whole genome sequencing applications. More specifically, it will provide Transnational Access to long-read sequencing and haplotyping (PacBio, 10X Genomics), liquid biopsies/circulating free floating omics analyses and single cell analysis.

Technical equipment and infrastructure 

KU Leuven has a ‘Next Generation Sequencing’ (NGS) facility, the Genomics Core Leuven, which is a joint initiative of the University of Leuven and the University Hospitals Leuven. It concentrates all clinical and research activities, and bioinformatics necessary for providing expert NGS services.

The facility hosts a unique instrumentarium of high throughput genomic technologies including a Sequenom MassArray for medium-throughput SNP typing, an Illumina iSCAN for high-throughput SNP and CpG genotyping, Affymetrix SNP arrays and Agilent CGH scanning platforms. NGS platforms include two newly acquired NovaSeq6000, one HiSeq4000, two Illumina HiSeq2500, three MiSeqs, a NextSeq500 and two PacBio sequencers (RSII and Sequel). The PACBIO systems are used for research as well as for the development of diagnostic applications.

In addition, the Genomics Core has assembled the infrastructure required for high-throughput genomics. This includes a Caliper Sciclone and three Hamilton Star robot, a Labcyte acoustic liquid handler, a BluePippin fragment separator, a Fragment Analyser, two Covaris sonicators (1 reaction and 96-well reactor) and, most recently, single cell instrumentations from Fluidigm and 10X genomics (10X Chromium), and a DEP-Array for cell sorting.

Eventually, we have access to a high performance computer cluster containing three head nodes, 17 compute nodes with a total of 512 cores and 2,5 TB of RAM memory. The HPC has NFS access to 4 storage nodes (Filers) in a cluster environment with a capacity of over 1,2 PB. Additionally, we bring the compute heavy analyses to a cloud platform.

The genetic diagnostic services, including NGS sequencing applications within the Genomics Core, are accredited according to ISO15189.