prof. dr. G.J. (Geert Jan) Biessels

prof. dr. G.J. (Geert Jan) Biessels

Full Professor
prof. dr. G.J. (Geert Jan) Biessels
  • Neurologen

Research Programs



Vascular causes of cognitive impairment and dementia is my main area of interest. At the UMC Brain Center of the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands, I have established a multidisciplinary research program on vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) and small vessel diseases (SVDs). Our particular focus is on novel imaging markers of VCI and SVDs, that can improve diagnosis and support development of treatment. We implement the latest insights in our VCI clinic.


Using the unique properties of high field 7T-MRI we have been able – for the first time -to detect cerebral microinfarcts in vivo and we have subsequently translated the technique to 3T-MRI, and published standards on microinfarct detection in The Lancet Neurology. Currently we 1) explore small vessel disease in VCI at the level of the small vessels themselves, through novel measures of small vessel structure and function at 7T MRI, thus getting to the core disease processes and 2) improve understanding of the functional impact of vascular lesions through large multicenter lesion symptom mapping studies (through the META VCI MAP consortium; ; first results in The Lancet Neurology, 2021) and white matter network studies using diffusion MRI.


Another topic of interest is cognitive impairment in relation to diabetes. We have characterized trajectories and stages of cognitive dysfunction and established underlying structural brain changes with MRI. I served as PI of two large multicentre RCTs on prevention of cognitive decline in patients with in type 2 diabetes. I was also involved in clinical guidelines ( ). From 2016, I serve as a consultant on the brain MRI and cognition outcomes of the  Diabetes Control & Complications Trial (DCCT)/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Study (EDIC) Cohort”, and several other NIH funded programs.


I work with international collaborators in Munich, Edinburgh, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Singapore and participate in the multinational EU-funded research programs SVDs@target and RECOGNISED. In 2016 I was appointed Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh and in 2015 I received the senior investigator award of the European Stroke Organisation (ESO) in recognition of my work.


Research line

Vascular Cognitive Impairment

Recent key publications

  1. 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
  2. Wardlaw,JM, Smith,EE, Biessels,GJ, …., Dichgans,M: Neuroimaging standards for research into small vessel disease and its contribution to ageing and neurodegeneration. Lancet Neurol 12:822-838, 2013
  3. Smith EE, Saposnik G, Biessels GJ…. Seshadri S; Prevention of Stroke in Patients With Silent Cerebrovascular Disease: A Scientific Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke 2017 Feb;48(2):e44-e71.
  4. Detection, risk factors, and functional consequences of cerebral microinfarcts. van Veluw SJ, Shih AY, Smith EE, Chen C, Schneider JA, Wardlaw JM, Greenberg SM, Biessels GJ. Lancet Neurol. 2017 Sep;16(9):730-740.
  5. Biessels GJ, Despa F Cognitive decline and dementia in diabetes mellitus: mechanisms and clinical implications. Nat Rev Endocrinol 14: 591-604, 2018
  6. Geurts LJ, Zwanenburg JJM, Klijn CJM, Luijten PR, Biessels GJ. Higher Pulsatility in Cerebral Perforating Arteries in Patients With Small Vessel Disease Related Stroke, a 7T MRI Study. Stroke 2018: STROKEAHA118022516
  7. Biessels GJ, Verhagen C, Janssen J, van den Berg E, Zinman B, Rosenstock J, George JT, Passera A, Schnaidt S, Johansen OE, investigators C. Effect of Linagliptin on Cognitive Performance in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiorenal Comorbidities: The CARMELINA Randomized Trial. Diabetes Care 2019.
  8. Weaver NA, Zhao L, Biesbroek JM, Kuijf HJ, Aben HP, Bae HJ, Caballero MAA, Chappell FM, Chen C, Dichgans M, Duering M, Georgakis MK, van der Giessen RS, Gyanwali B, Hamilton OKL, Hilal S, Vom Hofe EM, de Kort PLM, Koudstaal PJ, Lam BYK, Lim JS, Makin SDJ, Mok VCT, Shi L, Valdes Hernandez MC, Venketasubramanian N, Wardlaw JM, Wollenweber FA, Wong A, Xin X, Meta VCI Map consortium, Biessels GJ. The Meta VCI Map consortium for meta-analyses on strategic lesion locations for vascular cognitive impairment using lesion-symptom mapping: Design and multicenter pilot study. Alzheimers Dement (Amst) 2019; 11: 310-26.
  9. Biessels GJ, Nobili F, Teunissen CE, Simó R, Scheltens P. Understanding multifactorial brain changes in type 2 diabetes: a biomarker perspective. Lancet Neurol. 2020 Aug;19(8):699-710.
  1. Weaver NA, Kuijf, HJ, … Biessels GJ Strategic infarct locations for post-stroke cognitive impairment: a pooled analysis of individual patient data from 12 acute ischaemic stroke cohorts , Lancet Neurol 20: 448-459 2021


Side Activities

GJ Biessels has consulted for and received research support from Boehringer Ingelheim.  He has also consulted for Eli Lilly and Nestle HealthScience. All financial compensation for these services is transferred to his employer, the UMC Utrecht.

Fellowship and Awards


1998: Dutch Association for Pharmacology, best thesis: Cerebral function in diabetes mellitus

1999: Neurodiab prize for preclinical science. Neurodiab is the official diabetic neuropathy study group of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD)

2015: Senior Investigator Award European Stroke Organisation

2015: Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh

Personal grants/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).

2006: Vascular cognitive impairment: interactions between clinical features, brain imaging and memory (2006-2011). High Potential grant University of Utrecht, together with RPC Kessels

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

2016: Microvascular function and brain networks: Keys to understanding the vascular burden in dementia. VICI, from Dutch Research Council (NWO).


Research Output (483)

Neighbourhood walkability in relation to cognitive functioning in patients with disorders along the heart-brain axis

Timmermans Erik J, Leeuwis Anna E, Bots Michiel L, van Alphen Juliette L, Biessels Geert Jan, Brunner-La Rocca Hans-Peter, Kappelle L Jaap, van Rossum Albert C, van Osch Matthias J P, Vaartjes Ilonca, 14 Dec 2022, In: Health & place. 79 , p. 1-10

Cerebral hemodynamics during atrial fibrillation:Computational fluid dynamics analysis of lenticulostriate arteries using 7 T high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging

Scarsoglio S., Saglietto A., Tripoli F., Zwanenburg J. J.M., Biessels G. J., De Ferrari G. M., Anselmino M., Ridolfi L. Dec 2022, In: Physics of Fluids. 34

Risk evaluation of cognitive impairment in patients with heart failure:A call for action

Kuipers Sanne, Greving Jacoba P, Brunner-La Rocca Hans-Peter, Gottesman Rebecca F, van Oostenbrugge Robert J, Williams Nicole L, Jan Biessels Geert, Jaap Kappelle L, Dec 2022, In: IJC Heart and Vasculature. 43

Genome-wide meta-analysis for Alzheimer's disease cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers

Jansen Iris E, van der Lee Sven J, Gomez-Fonseca Duber, de Rojas Itziar, Dalmasso Maria Carolina, Grenier-Boley Benjamin, Zettergren Anna, Mishra Aniket, Ali Muhammad, Andrade Victor, Bellenguez Céline, Kleineidam Luca, Küçükali Fahri, Sung Yun Ju, Tesí Niccolo, Vromen Ellen M, Wightman Douglas P, Alcolea Daniel, Alegret Montserrat, Alvarez Ignacio, Amouyel Philippe, Athanasiu Lavinia, Bahrami Shahram, Bailly Henri, Belbin Olivia, Bergh Sverre, Bertram Lars, Biessels Geert Jan, Blennow Kaj, Blesa Rafael, Boada Mercè, Boland Anne, Buerger Katharina, Carracedo Ángel, Cervera-Carles Laura, Chene Geneviève, Claassen Jurgen A H R, Debette Stephanie, Deleuze Jean-Francois, de Deyn Peter Paul, Diehl-Schmid Janine, Djurovic Srdjan, Dols-Icardo Oriol, Dufouil Carole, Duron Emmanuelle, Düzel Emrah, Fladby Tormod, Fortea Juan, Frölich Lutz, Visser Pieter J, Nov 2022, In: Acta Neuropathologica. 144 , p. 821-842 22 p.

CADASIL Affects Multiple Aspects of Cerebral Small Vessel Function on 7T-MRI

van den Brink Hilde, Kopczak Anna, Arts Tine, Onkenhout Laurien, Siero Jeroen C W, Zwanenburg Jaco J M, Hein Sandra, Hübner Mathias, Gesierich Benno, Duering Marco, Stringer Michael S, Hendrikse Jeroen, Wardlaw Joanna M, Joutel Anne, Dichgans Martin, Biessels Geert Jan, 12 Oct 2022, In: Annals of Neurology. 93 , p. 29-39 11 p.

Improved sensitivity and precision in multicentre diffusion MRI network analysis using thresholding and harmonization

de Brito Robalo Bruno M, de Luca Alberto, Chen Christopher, Dewenter Anna, Duering Marco, Hilal Saima, Koek Huiberdina L, Kopczak Anna, Lam Bonnie Yin Ka, Leemans Alexander, Mok Vincent, Onkenhout Laurien P, van den Brink Hilde, Biessels Geert Jan 3 Oct 2022, In: NeuroImage. Clinical. 36

Chronic kidney disease and cognitive decline in patients with type 2 diabetes at elevated cardiovascular risk

Verhagen Chloë, Janssen Jolien, Minderhoud Crista A, van den Berg Esther, Wanner Christoph, Passera Anna, Johansen Odd Erik, Biessels Geert Jan Oct 2022, In: Journal of Diabetes and its Complications. 36

Multimodal tract-based MRI metrics outperform whole brain markers in determining cognitive impact of small vessel disease-related brain injury

De Luca Alberto, Kuijf Hugo, Exalto Lieza, Thiebaut de Schotten Michel, Biessels Geert-Jan, , Koek Dineke Sep 2022, In: Brain structure & function. 227 , p. 2553-2567 15 p.

Reduced white matter microstructural integrity in prediabetes:Is early glucose dysmetabolism the culprit?

Huang Peiyu, Tian Shijiao, Zhang Ruiting, Biessels Geert Jan 12 Aug 2022, In: EBioMedicine. 83

Brain Structure Among Middle-aged and Older Adults With Long-standing Type 1 Diabetes in the DCCT/EDIC Study

Jacobson Alan M, Braffett Barbara H, Erus Guray, Ryan Christopher M, Biessels Geert J, Luchsinger José A, Bebu Ionut, Gubitosi-Klug Rose A, Desiderio Lisa, Lorenzi Gayle M, Trapani Victoria R, Lachin John M, Bryan R Nick, Habes Mohamad, Nasrallah Ilya M, 1 Aug 2022, In: Diabetes Care. 45 , p. 1779-1787 9 p.

All research output

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