Wouter Peelaerts, Ph.D.

Wouter Peelaerts, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow, Patrik Brundin Laboratory


Dr. Wouter Peelaerts is an experienced neuroscientist with special expertise in degenerative brain diseases. He earned his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from KU Leuven and subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship there focused on neurobiology and gene therapy under the mentorship of Prof. Veerle Baekelandt. His efforts helped uncover new insights that further link the abnormal protein alpha-synuclein to neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Parkinson’s and multiple system atrophy. He has received numerous accolades for his scholarship, including a prestigious 2017–2018 Fulbright Fellowship and the ATCG and Integrated DNA Technologies postdoctoral award. In 2017, he joined the lab of Dr. Patrik Brundin at Van Andel Institute.


Current research focus

Dr. Peelaerts’s research encompasses basic and translational investigations into Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA). On the basic side, his work focuses on alpha-synuclein prion strains in synucleinopathies, the development of a novel preclinical model for MSA and the progression of alpha-synuclein prions in MSA. On the translational side, he is exploring the use of the experimental diabetes drug MSDC-0160 as a potential therapy for Parkinson’s and MSA.

Education & Training

Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, KU Leuven (Adviser: Prof. Veerle Baekelandt)
Thesis: A strain on the brain—alpha-synuclein protein misfolding in synucleinopathies

M.S. in biomedical sciences (magna cum laude), KU Leuven

B.S. in biomedical science (magna cum laude), KU Leuven

Postdoctoral researcher, Laboratory for Neurobiology and Gene Therapy, Division of Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven (Adviser: Prof. Veerle Baekelandt) (2016—2017)

Doctoral researcher, Laboratory for Neurobiology and Gene Therapy, Division of Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven (Adviser: Prof. Veerle Baekelandt) (2011—2016)

Predoctoral research, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, Cell Biology and Gene Expression Unit, National Institutes of Health (Adviser: Dr. Mark Cookson) (2011)

Course on Neurology and Neuropathology, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (2011)

Master’s thesis internship, Laboratory of Neurobiology and Gene Therapy, KU Leuven (2010–2011)

Academic research, University Hospitals Gasthuisberg (Nuclear Medicine Section, Laboratory of Clinical Virology and Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Gene Therapy) (2010)


Awards & External Funding

Fulbright grantee (2017–2018)

Integrated DNA Technologies and Advanced Technologies and Community Giving Foundation award (2017)

FWO postdoctoral fellowship (2017 – 2020)

Annual Award for Movement Disorders, best scientific article published by a young investigator (2015)

FWO doctoral fellowship (2012–2016)


Quansah E*, Peelaerts W*, Langston JW, Simon DK, Colca J, Brundin P. 2018. Targeting energy metabolism via the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier as a novel approach to attenuate neurodegeneration. Mol Neurodegener 13:28. 
*Contributed equally

Peelaerts W, Outeiro TF. 2017. Synuclein misfolding as a therapeutic target. Disease-modifying therapies and targets in neurodegenerative disorders. Academic Press.

Peelaerts W, Baekelandt V. 2016. ɑ-Synuclein strains and the variable pathologies of synucleinopathies. J Neurochem 139(Suppl 1):256–274.

Peelaerts W, Baekelandt V. 2016. ɑ-Synuclein folds: the cards are on the table. Nat Struct Mol Biol 23:359–360.

Peelaerts W, Bousset L, Van der Perren A, Moskalyuk A, Pulizzi R, Giugliano M, Van Den Haute C, Melki R, Baekelandt V. 2015. ɑ-Synuclein strains cause distinct synucleinopathies after local and systemic administration. Nature 522:340–344.