prof. dr. G.F. (Geert) Houben

prof. dr. G.F. (Geert) Houben

Full Professor
prof. dr. G.F. (Geert) Houben
  • Center for Translational Immunology (CTI) Research

Research Programs

Infection & Immunity



Geert Houben is Principal Scientist Food Allergy and Immunotoxicology at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, a public law-regulated research and technology organization in the Netherlands. Additionally, he is Professor Food-borne Risk Factors for Allergic and Inflammatory Diseases at the University Medical Center Utrecht and the Faculty of Medicine of the Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Prior to his current positions, he has had various research and management positions at TNO and various research positions at the Utrecht University and the University Medical Center Utrecht. Geert has had the managerial and scientific responsibility for the TNO Food Safety research and services for many years prior to choosing to focus on his scientific career since 2014. Geert was trained as a Biologist and Toxicologist and did his PhD in food immunotoxicology.

Geert’s major scientific specializations are food allergy, food and feed toxicology and immunotoxicology, and particularly risk assessment in these areas. In the early years of this century, he was the first to pioneer in the development and application of probabilistic risk assessment principles in food allergy and his team has been world leading in this area since then. His team hosts the world-wide most complete database with over 3500 threshold datapoints from individual food allergy patients (database jointly owned with the Food Allergy Research and Resources Program (FARRP) of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA) and has been developing and validating food intake databases specifically attuned to the application to food allergy risk assessment. TNO also led the risk assessment and risk management work package of the EU iFAAM project. Another research topic is on the assessment of allergenicity of (novel) food proteins. TNO initiated and chaired the EU Cost Action ImpARAS on this topic and developed a strategy and a machine learning algorithm to assess the allergenicity of (novel) food proteins. A last focus area is on the role of the exposome in inflammatory processes, in particular the development and application of approaches to identify and characterize food-borne risk factors for allergic and inflammatory diseases.

Geert Houben is or was a member of tens of expert groups, advisory boards and committees in the area of toxicology, food safety, immunotoxicology and food allergy. Among others, he was a member of the WHO/IPCS Expert Group for the harmonized guidance development for Immunotoxicity Risk Assessment and the 2020-2023 Ad hoc Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Food Allergens. Geert Houben is dedicated to further support the development, application and international harmonization of quantitative approaches in food allergy risk assessment and management and the development of diet-derived interventions in inflammatory diseases.

Side Activities

2023-present    Deputy Member of the Board of Future Food Utrecht, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

2022-present    Member of the Board of Examiners of the Graduate School of Life Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

2022-present    Member of the Expert Group "Can we define criteria for Unintended Allergen Presence that is compatible with the use of Precautionary Allergen Labelling and risk communication of such labelling", ILSI Europe, Brussels, Belgium

2020-present    Expert for the Ad hoc Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Risk Assessment of Food Allergens, FAO/WHO, Rome, Italy

2019-present    Member of the Expert Group "Allergenicity Assessment of Novel Ingredients Containing Protein & Protein Sources", ILSI Europe, Brussels, Belgium

2016-present    Member of the FrieslandCampina Corporate Food Safety Advisory board

2015-present    Member of the Scientific Working Group on Food Safety of the European Technology Platform “Food for Life”

2011-present    Member of the VITAL Scientific Expert Panel of the Australian-New Zealand Allergen Bureau, Australia

2009-present    Member of the Allergens Expert Group, Food and Drink Europe, Brussels, Belgium.

2018-2020        Deputy Member of the Future Food Utrecht Program Council, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

2017-2020        Member of the Expert Group "A framework to help define an appropriate level of protection for consumers with food allergies ", ILSI Europe, Brussels, Belgium

2019                   Member of the Expert Committee Immune Effects of Chromium-6, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands

2019                   Member of the Assessment Committee for proposals for the Future Food Utrecht Seed Money Research projects Call, October-November 2019

2008-2019        Member of the Supervisory Board of the Post Graduate Education in Toxicology, The Netherlands

2018                   Jury Member for the assessment of proposals for the NWO Open Technology Program, October-November 2018

2018                   Member of the Assessment Committee for proposals for the Future Food Utrecht Seed Money Research projects Call, October-November 2018

2017-2018        Member of the Roadmap Committee Theme Food Safety, Topsector Agri&Food, the Netherlands

2015-2017        Member of the Shanghai FDA Foreign Food Safety Expert Advisory Panel, Shanghai, China

2012-2017        Theme-coordinator Food Safety, Topsector Agri&Food, the Netherlands

2008-2017        Member and from 2012 until 2017 Chairman of the Advisory Board for allergens and food hypersensitivity, The Netherlands Nutrition Centre, The Hague, The Netherlands

Research Output (103)

Allergenicity assessment of new or modified protein-containing food sources and ingredients

Crevel R. W.R., Verhoeckx K., Bøgh K. L., Buck N., Chentouf A., Flanagan S., Galano M., Garthoff J. A., Hazebrouck S., Yarham R., Borja G., Houben G. 27 May 2024, In: Food and Chemical Toxicology. 189

Precautionary allergen labeling:Current communication problems and potential for future improvements

Linders Yvette F.M., Lentz Leo R., Blom W. Marty, Michelsen-Huisman Anouska, Strikwerda Jelle, van Dijk Liselotte M., Knulst André C., Houben Geert F., van Os-Medendorp Harmieke, Holleman Bregje C. May 2023, In: Food Control. 147 , p. 1-10 10 p.

Co-sensitization between legumes is frequently seen, but variable and not always clinically relevant

Smits Mark, Verhoeckx Kitty, Knulst André, Welsing Paco, de Jong Aard, Gaspari Marco, Ehlers Anna, Verhoeff Paulien, Houben Geert, Le Thuy My 2023, In: Frontiers in allergy. 4

Accidental allergic reactions to food in adolescents and adults:An overview of the factors involved and implications for prevention

Versluis Astrid, Le Thuy-My, Houben Geert F, Knulst André C, Van Os-Medendorp Harmieke 2023, In: Frontiers in allergy. 4

Reproducibility of food challenge to cow's milk:Systematic review with individual participant data meta-analysis

Turner Paul J., Patel Nandinee, Campbell Dianne E., Sampson Hugh A., Maeda Mayu, Katsunuma Toshio, Westerhout Joost, Blom W. Marty, Baumert Joseph L., Houben Geert F., Remington Benjamin C. Nov 2022, In: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 150 , p. 1135-1143.e8

Updated threshold dose-distribution data for sesame

Turner Paul J., Gretzinger Magdalena, Patel Nandinee, Brough Helen A., Chinthrajah R. Sharon, Ebisawa Motohiro, Elizur Arnon, Koplin Jennifer J., Peters Rachel L., Purington Natasha, Nowak-Wegrzyn Anna, Saf Sarah, Sampson Hugh A., Westerhout Joost, Blom W. Marty, Baumert Joseph L., Houben Geert F., Remington Benjamin C. Oct 2022, In: Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 77 , p. 3124-3162 39 p.

Updated full range of Eliciting Dose values for Cow's milk for use in food allergen risk assessment

Blom W. Marty, Westerhout Joost, Baumert Joseph L., Meima Marie Y., Turner Paul J., Ebisawa Motohiro, Yanagida Noriyuki, Remington Benjamin C., Houben Geert F. Oct 2022, In: Food and Chemical Toxicology. 168

‘Too high, too low’:The complexities of using thresholds in isolation to inform precautionary allergen (‘may contain’) labels

Turner Paul J., Baumert Joseph L., Beyer Kirsten, Brooke-Taylor Simon, Comberiati Pasquale, Crevel René W.R., Gerdts Jennifer D., Hazel Gowland M., Houben Geert F., Hourihane Jonathan O.B., Konstantinou George N., La Vieille Sébastien, Moya Beatriz, Muraro Antonella, Mills E. N.Clare, Patel Nandinee, Podestà Marcia, Popping Bert, Reese Imke, Roberts Graham, Said Maria, Santos Alexandra F., Schnadt Sabine, Taylor Steve L., Vlieg-Boerstra Berber, Remington Benjamin C., Jun 2022, In: Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 77 , p. 1661-1666 6 p.

Low dietary adherence after a positive food challenge in food allergic adults

Versluis Astrid, Le Thuy My, Erp Francine C.van, Blankestijn Mark A., Houben Geert F., Knulst André C., Os- Medendorp Harmieke van Feb 2022, In: Clinical and Translational Allergy. 12 , p. 1-9

Risk-based approaches in food allergy

Houben Geert, Blom W. Marty, Meijerink Marjolein 2022, p. 697-719 23 p.

All research output

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