Nele Brusselaers


Associate professor of clinical epidemiology, team leader at the Centre of Translational Microbiome Research.

About me

I am an Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology (Docent) and Senior Researcher at Karolinska Institutet. As team leader of the Epidemiology team at the Centre for Translational Microbiome Research, Karolinska Insitutet, I also coordinate the Oncobiome (cancer and microbiome) projects in the centre. I am also Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the Global Health Institute at Antwerp University in Belgium.

Although I have a broad interest and experience in different clinical topics; my main focus is to investigate the long-term effects of commonly prescribed drugs on female health, cancer and diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract, through potential drug-mediated alterations of the microbiome.

I also teach and supervise students from undergraduate to doctoral level.

I am also a member of the steering board of SFO epidemiology and the Nordic Research School in Registry Based research (NordForsk).


Graduated PhD students:

As main supervisor:

- Eva Doorakkers (Karolinska Institutet, 2019)

- Sam Van Slycke (Ghent University, 2020)

- Robin Willaert (Ghent Universtiy, 2021)

- Johanna Simin (Karolinska Institutet, 2021)


As co-supervisor:

- John Maret.Ouda (Karolinska Institutet, 2018)

- Laurent Thierens (Ghent University, 2020)



Research description

I am the principal investigator of 5 large cohorts:

- Chemoprevention of cancer cohort (aim: to assess the impact of commonly prescribed drugs on the development of cancer)

- The Swedish Maternal Microbiome (SweMaMi) project (aim: to assess how the microbiome affects pregnancy outcomes and the health of the offspring)

- Medication and the Maternal Microbiome (MediMami) project (aim: to assess the impact of commonly prescribed drugs during pregnancy, through potential microbiome alterations)

- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary syndrome) project (aim: to assess the effects on health in the offspring of mothers with PCOS)

- CDI project: Clostridioides difficile infection [CDI], recurrence and mortality in Sweden: risk profiles, prescription drugs and burden.


Teaching portfolio

Course organiser:

- How to conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses (KI PhD course 2790), 2014-2020

- Study design in clinical research (KI PhD course 1794), 2013-2015

Undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at Karolinska Institutet, Antwerp University and Ghent University: including study design, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, pharmaco-epidemiology, cancer epidemiology, microbiome-epidemiology and other basic and advanced topics within epidemiology and clinical research.


  • Master in Medicine (MD), Ghent University (Belgium), 2008.
  • PhD in Medical Sciences, Thesis: "Severe burn injury: Some determinants of epidemiological and surgical outcomes, Ghent University, Belgium, 2010.
  • Master in Hospital Hygiene and Infection Control, Ghent University (Belgium), 2010.
  • Master in Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom), 2015.
  • Docent in Clinical Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, 2015.
  • First post-doc: Dept of Internal medicine and Infectious diseases, Ghent University, Belgium (2010-2012)
  • Second post-doc: Upper-gastrointestinal surgery, Dept of Molecular medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Insitutet (2012-2016)

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Awarded research funding as prinicipal investigator:

  • SFO: Strategic Funding in Epidemiology (Karolinska Institutet): Young Scholar Grant (2014) (
  • Julin funding (2014)
  • Bengt Ihres Fond (Svenska Läkaresällskapet) (2014, 2017, 2018)
  • KI fonder (2014-2019)
  • Svenska Läkaresällskapet (2015, 2018)
  • KID funding: Karolinska Insitutet delfinansiering för nya doktorander (2015)
  • Shizu Matsurais foundation (2017)
  • Gastroenterolgisk forskningsfond (2017, 2018)
  • VR (2020)

Awarded research funding as co-applicant

  • KID funding: Karolinska Insitutet delfinansiering för nya doktorander (2014)
  • SIMSAM (Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in the Social and Medical Sciences) (2014-2018)
  • Alzheimerfonden (2018)
  • KI Stifeltsen (2018)
  • Comision Nacional de Investigacion Cientifica y Technolica (CONICYT) (2018)
  • Kronprinsessan Lovisas Förening För Barnasjukvård /Stifelsen Axel Tielmans (2019)
  • ALF (2020)


  • Best European Abstract - European Burn Association (EBA- 2009);
  • Investigators award at the Congress of the Belgian Society of Internal Medicine (2010);
  • Best abstract - European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM – 2010);
  • Best abstract/4th best oral presentation (EBA - 2011).
  • Selected as representative from KI to attend the Global Young Scientist Summit in Singapore (2014)