Barbara Willekens, MD, (°1976) is a neurologist subspecialized in multiple sclerosis and neuroinflammatory diseases. Her medical degree (Magna Cum Laude, 2001) was obtained from the University of Antwerp (BE). Afterwards, she was trained in neurology by Prof. P.P. De Deyn at Middelheim Hospital (Antwerp, BE) and Prof. J. Van Gijn at University Medical Center Utrecht (NL) and received board certification in Neurology in October 2006 (BE). Currently, she is the leader of the multidisciplinary MS clinic at the Antwerp University Hospital (full-time appointed since 2011, BE) and the co-founder of the Antwerp MS network (www.ms-antwerpen.be). A PhD thesis is in preparation, under the promotorship of Prof. Nathalie Cools and Prof. Patrick Cras, entitled ‘Unmet needs in multiple sclerosis’, involving a phase I clinical trial to study the safety and feasibility of a newly developed tolerogenic dendritic cell vaccination as a disease modifying treatment in MS. To perform this research, she received a fellowship from the University of Antwerp in 2016 and was awarded a Clinical PhD fellowship from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) in 2018. Her research has been presented by her during ECTRIMS, Charcot and AAN conferences. She is an investigator in the RESTORE consortium ( coordination by Prof. Nathalie Cools), a Horizon 2020 funded project. Dr. Barbara Willekens has more than 10 years of experience in treating MS patients and has been involved in more than 25 industry-sponsored and academic phase II, III and IV clinical trials. She is a guest teacher in the Bachelor and Master of Medicine at the University of Antwerp and mentors several students and neurology residents for their master thesis in medicine and neurology. Since 2017, a yearly ‘MS Academy’ for residents in neurology and young neurologists is organised by her in collaboration with vzw Babinski with the aim to provide excellent indepth education in the domain of MS. As a board member of the Belgian Study Group for Multiple Sclerosis she is actively involved in research projects. She is vice-president of the Flemish Society for Neurology (VVN) and member of the Scientific Panel Neuroimmunology of the EAN. As writer for WOMS info, speaker and organizer of symposia for patients with Multiple Sclerosis and rare neuroinflammatory diseases such as Neuromyelitis Optica and Susac Syndrome, she is actively involved in communication of scientific findings to a patient audience.
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