Geert Jan Biessels


Prof. Geert Jan Biessels

  • stroke
  • structure and connections
+31 88 75 58600



Geert Jan Biessels is Professor of Neurology at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus Institute. He studied Medicine and Medical Biology (cum laude) at Utrecht University and obtained his PhD in 1997. He was certified as a neurologist in 2004. He did fellowships at the Alzheimer Centre of the VUMC Amsterdam in 2004 and at the Dementia Research Center of the UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London,  in 2010.

From 2011 he heads  the section General Neurology of the department of Neurology at the UMC Utrecht. July 2012 he was appointed as Professor of Neurology, with a chair on Cerebrovascular Disease and Cognition.

His research interest is on vascular cognitive impairment (VCI); cognitive dysfunction due to vascular disease. His ambition is to increase insight in underlying disease processes, improve detection of the vascular burden in dementia –in research and clinical practice– and optimize treatment. Intensive collaboration with national and international partners is a cornerstone of his work. He leads the Utrecht VCI Study Group. Core projects from the group employ  ultra-high field 7T MRI to zoom in on microvascular brain changes in VCI. In 2012 his group was able, for the first time, to detect cerebral microinfarcts in vivo. Other projects address other innovative markers of cerebral microvascular abnormalities and parenchymal damage on 3&7T MRI.

In October 2010 he has started the Utrecht VCI Centre, a multidisciplinary expertise center that offers state of the art diagnosis and treatment and integrates research activities and clinical care.

Cognition and dementia in people with type 2 diabetes(T2DM) is another key topic. His research group has characterized the severity and trajectories of stages of cognitive dysfunction in T2DM and established underlying structural brain changes with MRI. In addition, they developed a risk score for  individualized prediction of 10-years dementia risk in patients with T2DM and validated screening tools to detect cognitive impairment. He is PI in two large RCTs on prevention of cognitive decline in T2DM.


Research line and group

Research line
Vascular Cognitive Impairment
Number of PhD students
Number of postdocs

Personal fellowships and awards

  • 2004: Cognitive dysfunction in DM2: course of development and relation to vascular disease. (2004-2009), Career Development Grant from the Dutch Diabetes Foundation.
  • 2005: Glucose, insulin and cerebrovascular disease: impact on cognition (2005-2009). Clinical Fellowship from Dutch Research Council (ZonMW).
  • 2010: ‘Diabetes and vascular damage: who is at risk for dementia?’, VIDI, from Dutch Research Council (ZonMW).
  • 2010: Vascular cognitive impairment: the hidden burden of cerebrovascular disease, Clinical Established Investigator Grant, Nederlandse Hartstichting
  • 2015 Senior Investigator Award of European Stroke Organisation (ESO) for VCI research program

Most recent key publications

  • Koekkoek ,PS, Kappelle,LJ, van den Berg,E, Rutten,GE, Biessels,GJ: Cognitive function in patients with diabetes mellitus: guidance for daily care. Lancet Neurol 14:329-340, 2015
  • Exalto,LG, Biessels,GJ, Karter,AJ, Huang,ES, Katon,WJ, Minkoff,JR, Whitmer,RA: Risk score for individualized prediction of ten year dementia risk in type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Aging study. Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinol 1: 2013
  • Reijmer,YD, Leemans,A, Caeyenberghs,K, Heringa,SM, Koek,HL, Biessels,GJ: Disruption of cerebral networks and cognitive impairment in Alzheimer disease. Neurology 80:1370-1377, 2013
  • van Veluw,SJ, Zwanenburg,JJ, Engelen-Lee,J, Spliet,WG, Hendrikse,J, Luijten,PR, Biessels,GJ: In vivo detection of cerebral cortical microinfarcts with high-resolution 7T MRI. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 33:322-329, 2013
  • van Veluw,SJ, Hilal,S, Kuijf,HJ, Ikram,MK, Xin,X, Tan,BY, Venketasubramanian,N, Biessels,GJ, Chen,C: Cortical microinfarcts on 3T MRI: clinical correlates in memory-clinic patients. Alzheimers Dement In Press: 2015