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 (498)

Cognitive Impairment in Patients With Cardiac Disease:Implications for Clinical Practice

van Nieuwkerk Astrid C, Delewi Ronak, Wolters Frank J, Muller Majon, Daemen Mat, Biessels Geert Jan, 5 Jun 2023, In: Stroke. 54 , p. 2181-2191 11 p.

Patterns of Regional Brain Atrophy and Brain Aging in Middle- and Older-Aged Adults With Type 1 Diabetes

Habes Mohamad, Jacobson Alan M, Braffett Barbara H, Rashid Tanweer, Ryan Christopher M, Shou Haochang, Cui Yuhan, Davatzikos Christos, Luchsinger Jose A, Biessels Geert J, Bebu Ionut, Gubitosi-Klug Rose A, Bryan R Nick, Nasrallah Ilya M, 1 Jun 2023, In: JAMA network open. 6 12 p.

Neuroimaging standards for research into small vessel disease-advances since 2013

Duering Marco, Biessels Geert Jan, Brodtmann Amy, Chen Christopher, Cordonnier Charlotte, de Leeuw Frank-Erik, Debette Stéphanie, Frayne Richard, Jouvent Eric, Rost Natalia S, Ter Telgte Annemieke, Al-Shahi Salman Rustam, Backes Walter H, Bae Hee-Joon, Brown Rosalind, Chabriat Hugues, De Luca Alberto, deCarli Charles, Dewenter Anna, Doubal Fergus N, Ewers Michael, Field Thalia S, Ganesh Aravind, Greenberg Steven, Helmer Karl G, Hilal Saima, Jochems Angela C C, Jokinen Hanna, Kuijf Hugo, Lam Bonnie Y K, Lebenberg Jessica, MacIntosh Bradley J, Maillard Pauline, Mok Vincent C T, Pantoni Leonardo, Rudilosso Salvatore, Satizabal Claudia L, Schirmer Markus D, Schmidt Reinhold, Smith Colin, Staals Julie, Thrippleton Michael J, van Veluw Susanne J, Vemuri Prashanthi, Wang Yilong, Werring David, Zedde Marialuisa, Akinyemi Rufus O, Del Brutto Oscar H, Markus Hugh S, Zhu Yi-Cheng, Smith Eric E, Dichgans Martin, Wardlaw Joanna M 23 May 2023, In: The Lancet. Neurology. 22 , p. 602-618 17 p.

Abnormalities in cardiac-induced brain tissue deformations are now detectable with MRI:A case-report of a patient who underwent craniotomy after trauma

Sloots Jacob Jan, Biessels Geert Jan, Amelink G. Johan, Zwanenburg Jaco J.M. May 2023, In: Magnetic Resonance Imaging. 98 , p. 62-65 4 p.

Predicting Cognitive Decline in Older Adults Using Baseline Metrics of AD Pathologies, Cerebrovascular Disease, and Neurodegeneration

Prosser Lloyd, MacDougall Amy, Sudre Carole H., Manning Emily N., Malone Ian B., Walsh Phoebe, Goodkin Olivia, Pemberton Hugh, Barkhof Frederik, Biessels Geert Jan, Cash David M., Barnes Josephine 21 Feb 2023, In: Neurology. 100 , p. E834-E845 12 p.

Cerebral amyloid-β deposition in patients with heart disease or carotid occlusive disease:A systematic review and meta-analysis

Starmans Naomi Louisa Paula, Leeuwis Anna Elisabeth, Biessels Geert Jan, Kappelle Laurens Jaap, van der Flier Wiesje Maria, Tolboom Nelleke 13 Jan 2023, In: Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 445

Aβ efflux impairment and inflammation linked to cerebrovascular accumulation of amyloid-forming amylin secreted from pancreas

Verma Nirmal, Velmurugan Gopal Viswanathan, Winford Edric, Coburn Han, Kotiya Deepak, Leibold Noah, Radulescu Laura, Despa Sanda, Chen Kuey C., Van Eldik Linda J., Nelson Peter T., Wilcock Donna M., Jicha Gregory A., Stowe Ann M., Goldstein Larry B., Powel David K., Walton Jeffrey H., Navedo Manuel F., Nystoriak Matthew A., Murray Andrew J., Biessels Geert Jan, Troakes Claire, Zetterberg Henrik, Hardy John, Lashley Tammaryn, Despa Florin 3 Jan 2023, In: Communications biology. 6

Twenty-four hour blood pressure variability and the prevalence and the progression of cerebral white matter hyperintensities

Starmans Naomi Lp, Wolters Frank J, Leeuwis Annebet E, Bron Esther E, Brunner La Rocca Hans-Peter, Staals Julie, Biessels Geert Jan, Kappelle L Jaap, 3 Jan 2023, In: Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. 43 , p. 801-811 11 p.

Disentangling poststroke cognitive deficits and their neuroanatomical correlates through combined multivariable and multioutcome lesion-symptom mapping

Weaver Nick A., Mamdani Muhammad Hasnain, Lim Jae Sung, Biesbroek Johannes Matthijs, Biessels Geert Jan, Huenges Wajer Irene M.C., Kang Yeonwook, Kim Beom Joon, Lee Byung Chul, Lee Keon Joo, Yu Kyung Ho, Bae Hee Joon, Bzdok Danilo, Kuijf Hugo J. 2023, In: Human Brain Mapping. 44 , p. 2266-2278 13 p.

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

All research output

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