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Damya Laoui

VUB researcher Damya Laoui has been added to the select group Innovators under 35 Europe. She studies the role of dendritic cells in new immune therapies against cancer. Vub alumnus Felix Van De Maele has also been selected. He is the co-founder and CEO of Collibra, a successful spin off company of Vrije Universiteit Brussel; a fast rising star in the world of data governance. Innovators under 35 is an initiative of the technology magazine of the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Former winners were among others co-founder of Spotify Daniel Ek and co-founder of Google Sergey Brin.


Young people laden with talent and running the most disruptive technological projects: they are the object of the world’s oldest technology magazine’s quest. After more than a thousand applications, months of work and hours of discussion, the editorial board of the MIT Technology Review ended up with a European list and a list of 10 Belgian up-and-coming innovators.


Cancer immune therapy

Damya Laoui is a postdoctoral researcher at the Myeloid Cell Immunology lab of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research group focuses on the use of dendritic cells to develop new immune therapies against cancer. Dendritic cells are responsible for activating the immune system. Laoui studies how specific types of these cells, obtained from surgically removed tumors, can be utilised to vaccinate a patient so that the tumors growth can be slowed down.

The report states: “Although the clinical application of this research still has a long road ahead, Laoui’s approach has the great potential to help cancer patients all over the world who might not have access to the current therapeutic alternatives.”


Big data

CEO of VUB spin off Collibra, Felix Van de Maele, is lauded for his early insights into the importance of big data. “Eight years ago Felix Van de Maele started with one fundamental belief in his mind: data is the cornerstone of everything.” From its headquarters in the Brussels Capital Region Collibra presents itself as one of the most advanced players in the market. Collibra’s platform is the only one on the market that couples a global vision to a workflow in three of the five key domains of data governance. Collibra works for various disciplines, from education to financial services for the government, and helps hundreds of clients daily.