Meet The Team

To tackle the diverse challenges, we have a multidisciplinary team with expertise in machine learning, statistics, and medicine.

prof. dr. Johan Decruyenaere

co-founder and chair

Johan is co-founder and chair of SYNDARA. He graduated as a medical doctor in 1984 at Ghent University (Belgium) and was board certified in Internal Medicine (1989), in Intensive Care (1995) and in Health Information Management (2003). He obtained his PhD in 1995. Currently, he is Professor of Medicine at Ghent University and a staff member at the Department of Intensive Care at Ghent University Hospital. He is author or co-author of more than 200 international peer-reviewed papers. For more than 15 years, he has been deeply involved in research and implementation of Big Data, computerized clinical decision-making, and AI projects. He is chair of the Fund for Innovation and Clinical Research at Ghent University Hospital. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium and chair of this Academy’s Standing Committee on Digital Medicine.

ir. Christiaan Polet

co-founder and doctoral fellow

Christiaan is co-founder of SYNDARA. He graduated in 1988 as a Master of Electromechanical Engineering and in 2011 as a Master of Science in Computer Science Engineering at Ghent University (Belgium). Currently, he is CIO of Ghent University Hospital, head of the ICT department. The ICT department has more than 120 employees (supplemented by a few dozen externals) and is responsible for policy and management of all centrally made available software and hardware, including network and telephony. He is also CEO of the Collaborative Care (CoZo) Platform, a digital collaboration platform that allows patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare institutions to exchange and share medical data quickly and securely. More than 170 institutions (hospitals, labs, radiology practices, ...) are connected. Several million medical results are shared monthly via the CoZo platform.

dr. Heidelinde Dehaene

postdoctoral researcher

Heidelinde is a postdoctoral researcher at SYNDARA. She graduated as a Master in Psychology in 2015, a Master in Statistical Data Analysis in 2021, and obtained a PhD in Statistical Data Analysis in 2022 all at Ghent University (Belgium). Although most of her past research has a methodological focus, she is also interested in more applied work inspired by real-life problems. Therefore, research on the generation and rigorous evaluation of synthetical medical data is a perfect intersection of her research interests.

Alexander Decruyenaere, MD

doctoral fellow

Alexander is a doctoral fellow (50%) at SYNDARA. He graduated as a medical doctor in 2016 at Ghent University (Belgium) and was board certified in medical oncology in 2022, while also obtaining a Master in Statistical Data Analysis from Ghent University in 2019. Alexander is currently working as a medical oncologist (50%) at the department of Medical Oncology in Ghent University Hospital with clinical focus on genitourinary cancers. His research focus lies at the intersection of oncology and data science, with special interest in synthetic data generation and causal (machine) learning.

ir. Paloma Rabaey

doctoral fellow

Paloma is a doctoral fellow in computer science at the UGent Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, funded by the FWO. Her research primarily focuses on ways to incorporate prior knowledge into deep learning models, with a specific focus on medical applications. She will work together with Syndara to build generative models that create more reliable synthetic data by adhering to expert-defined rules and background knowledge.

prof. dr. ir. Thomas Demeester


Thomas is Assistant Professor at the Internet Technology and Data Science Lab (IDLab), Ghent University - imec, Belgium. After his master’s degree in electrical engineering (2005), Thomas obtained his PhD in electrical engineering (on computational electromagnetics), with a grant from the Research Foundation, Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen) in 2009. His research interests then shifted to information retrieval, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (with a stay at University College London in the UK, 2016), and more recently to Neuro-Symbolic AI. As a lecturer at Ghent University, he currently teaches courses on NLP and AI. He has been involved in a series of national and international projects in the area of NLP and machine learning, with applications in the media, healthcare, educational, and legal domain. He co-authored around one hundred peer-reviewed contributions in international journals and conferences.

prof. dr. Stijn Vansteelandt


Stijn is Full Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics at Ghent University (Belgium). He is a leading expert in causal inference, which focuses on the development of statistical methods for inferring the causal effect of an exposure on an outcome from experimental and observational data under minimal and well-understood assumptions. He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications in international journals on a variety of topics in biostatistics. He has served as Co-Editor of Biometrics, the leading flagship journal of the International Biometrics Society. His recent research primarily focuses on how to use (debiased) machine learning techniques for obtaining causal effect estimates and associated confidence intervals based on experimental and observational data.

prof. dr. Kirsten Colpaert


Kirsten completed her medical degree at Ghent University (Belgium) in 1995, specializing in Anesthesiology in 2000 and Intensive Care in 2001. In 2013, she achieved her PhD, focusing on the impact of information technology on healthcare quality. Currently, Kirsten serves as the Medical Director of the newly established Ghent University Hospital's Data Science Institute, a prestigious role she has held since 2021. Alongside this position, she holds the title of Associate Professor at Ghent University and serves as a senior staff member at the Department of Intensive Care at Ghent University Hospital, with special focus on neuro-ICU. Passionate about the intersection of medicine and ICT/data science, Kirsten remains at the forefront of advancements in medical AI, machine learning, causality, and data science. Her commitment to innovation in healthcare extends beyond the walls of the intensive care unit, as she actively participates in various health innovation projects within the hospital.

prof. dr. Sylvie Rottey


Sylvie is head of the Department of Medical Oncology at Ghent University Hospital (Belgium) and also heads the hospital’s phase I unit dedicated to the development of new drugs (Drug Research Unit Ghent). She is Professor of Pharmacology at Ghent University. Trained as a medical oncologist, she has clinical activity in head and neck cancers and urological cancers. As principal investigator of numerous phase I-III clinical trials over the past 20 years, she is involved in the development of new drugs in different oncological indications. She is member of national and international scientific societies (ASCO, ESMO, NVKFB, BMUC, BSMO, Haelixia, Eufemed, …). She has authored over 200 scientific publications.


passionate researcher

Embark on an exciting research journey with us! If you're passionate about pursuing a master's thesis ​​or engaging in innovative research projects on synthetic data, we invite you to connect with us. 

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