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 research 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). Our particular focus is on novel imaging markers of VCI and the role of diabetes in dementia.


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 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 (to this end I established the Meta VCI Map consortium; ) and white matter network studies using diffusion MRI. With regard to diabetes, we have characterized trajectories and stages of cognitive dysfunction and established underlying structural brain changes with MRI. We recently completed two large multicentre RCTs on prevention of cognitive decline in patients with in type 2 diabetes.


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

Research line

Vascular Cognitive Impairment

Recent key publications

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Biessels GJ, Despa F Cognitive decline and dementia in diabetes mellitus: mechanisms and clinical implications. Nat Rev Endocrinol 14: 591-604, 2018

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.


Side Activities

GJ Biessels consults for and receives research support from Boehringer Ingelheim. All financial compensation for these services is transferred to his employer, the UMCU 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 (442)

On the generalizability of diffusion MRI signal representations across acquisition parameters, sequences and tissue types:Chronicles of the MEMENTO challenge

De Luca Alberto, Ianus Andrada, Leemans Alexander, Palombo Marco, Shemesh Noam, Zhang Hui, Alexander Daniel C, Nilsson Markus, Froeling Martijn, Biessels Geert-Jan, Zucchelli Mauro, Frigo Matteo, Albay Enes, Sedlar Sara, Alimi Abib, Deslauriers-Gauthier Samuel, Deriche Rachid, Fick Rutger, Afzali Maryam, Pieciak Tomasz, Bogusz Fabian, Aja-Fernández Santiago, Özarslan Evren, Jones Derek K, Chen Haoze, Jin Mingwu, Zhang Zhijie, Wang Fengxiang, Nath Vishwesh, Parvathaneni Prasanna, Morez Jan, Sijbers Jan, Jeurissen Ben, Fadnavis Shreyas, Endres Stefan, Rokem Ariel, Garyfallidis Eleftherios, Sanchez Irina, Prchkovska Vesna, Rodrigues Paulo, Landman Bennet A, Schilling Kurt G 6 jul 2021, In: NeuroImage. 240 , p. 118367

Effects of linagliptin vs glimepiride on cognitive performance in type 2 diabetes:results of the randomised double-blind, active-controlled CAROLINA-COGNITION study

Biessels Geert Jan, Verhagen Chloë, Janssen Jolien, van den Berg Esther, Wallenstein Gudrun, Zinman Bernard, Espeland Mark A., Johansen Odd Erik jun 2021, In: Diabetologia. 64 , p. 1235-1245 11 p.

Erratum:Tackling challenges in care of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias amid the COVID-19 pandemic, now and in the future (Alzheimer's & Dementia, (2020), 16, 11, (1571-1581), 10.1002/alz.12143)

Mok Vincent C.T., Pendlebury Sarah, Wong Adrian, Alladi Suvarna, Au Lisa, Bath Philip M., Biessels Geert Jan, Chen Christopher, Cordonnier Charlotte, Dichgans Martin, Dominguez Jacqueline, Gorelick Philip B., Kim Sang Yun, Kwok Timothy, Greenberg Steven M., Jia Jianping, Kalaria Rajesh, Kivipelto Miia, Naegandran Kandiah, Lam Linda C.W., Lam Bonnie Yin Ka, Lee Allen T.C., Markus Hugh S., O'Brien John, Pai Ming Chyi, Pantoni Leonardo, Sachdev Perminder, Senanarong Vorapun, Skoog Ingmar, Smith Eric E., Srikanth Velandai, Suh Guk Hee, Wardlaw Joanna, Ko Ho, Black Sandra E., Scheltens Philip mei 2021, In: Alzheimer's and Dementia. 17 , p. 906-907 2 p.

Velocity and Pulsatility Measures in the Perforating Arteries of the Basal Ganglia at 3T MRI in Reference to 7T MRI

Arts Tine, Meijs Timion A, Grotenhuis Heynric, Voskuil Michiel, Siero Jeroen, Biessels Geert Jan, Zwanenburg Jaco 26 apr 2021, In: Frontiers in Neuroscience. 15 10 p.

Strategic infarct locations for post-stroke cognitive impairment:a pooled analysis of individual patient data from 12 acute ischaemic stroke cohorts

Weaver Nick A., Kuijf Hugo J., Aben Hugo P., Abrigo Jill, Bae Hee Joon, Barbay Mélanie, Best Jonathan G., Bordet Régis, Chappell Francesca M., Chen Christopher P.L.H., Dondaine Thibaut, van der Giessen Ruben S., Godefroy Olivier, Gyanwali Bibek, Hamilton Olivia K.L., Hilal Saima, Huenges Wajer Irene M.C., Kang Yeonwook, Kappelle L. Jaap, Kim Beom Joon, Köhler Sebastian, de Kort Paul L.M., Koudstaal Peter J., Kuchcinski Gregory, Lam Bonnie Y.K., Lee Byung Chul, Lee Keon Joo, Lim Jae Sung, Lopes Renaud, Makin Stephen D.J., Mendyk Anne Marie, Mok Vincent C.T., Oh Mi Sun, van Oostenbrugge Robert J., Roussel Martine, Shi Lin, Staals Julie, Del C Valdés-Hernández Maria, Venketasubramanian Narayanaswamy, Verhey Frans R.J., Wardlaw Joanna M., Werring David J., Xin Xu, Yu Kyung Ho, van Zandvoort Martine J.E., Zhao Lei, Biesbroek J. Matthijs, Biessels Geert Jan 23 apr 2021, In: Lancet Neurology. 20 , p. 448-459 12 p.

Strain Tensor Imaging:Cardiac-induced brain tissue deformation in humans quantified with high-field MRI

Sloots Jacob-Jan, Biessels Geert Jan, de Luca Alberto, Zwanenburg Jaco J M 17 apr 2021, In: NeuroImage. 236 , p. 1-14

Cognitive impairment in patients with cerebrovascular disease:A white paper from the links between stroke ESO Dementia Committee

Verdelho Ana, Wardlaw Joanna, Pavlovic Aleksandra, Pantoni Leonardo, Godefroy Olivier, Duering Marco, Charidimou Andreas, Chabriat Hugues, Biessels Geert Jan 1 mrt 2021, In: European Stroke Journal. 6 , p. 5-17 13 p.

The association of circulating amylin with β-amyloid in familial Alzheimer's disease

Ly Han, Verma Nirmal, Sharma Savita, Kotiya Deepak, Despa Sanda, Abner Erin L, Nelson Peter T, Jicha Gregory A, Wilcock Donna M, Goldstein Larry B, Guerreiro Rita, Brás José, Hanson Angela J, Craft Suzanne, Murray Andrew J, Biessels Geert Jan, Troakes Claire, Zetterberg Henrik, Hardy John, Lashley Tammaryn, Aesg , Despa Florin 2021, In: Alzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions. 7 11 p.

Cerebrovascular disease in patients with cognitive impairment:A white paper from the ESO dementia committee – A practical point of view with suggestions for the management of cerebrovascular diseases in memory clinics

Verdelho Ana, Biessels Geert Jan, Chabriat Hugues, Charidimou Andreas, Duering Marco, Godefroy Olivier, Pantoni Leonardo, Pavlovic Aleksandra, Wardlaw Joanna 2021, In: European Stroke Journal. 6 , p. 111-119 9 p.

Prediction of Cognitive Recovery after Stroke:The Value of Diffusion-Weighted Imaging-Based Measures of Brain Connectivity

Aben Hugo P., De Munter Leonie, Reijmer Yael D., Spikman Jacoba M., Visser-Meily Johanna M.A., Biessels Geert Jan, De Kort Paul L.M. 2021, In: Stroke. 52 , p. 1983-1992 10 p.

All research output

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