With a master's and PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, Jean-Jacques Degroof has served in a number of educational and executive roles across the globe. Philanthropically, Jean-Jacques Degroof has a keen interest in entrepreneurship education, notably at the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship, and the arts, and in issues related to ageing. To that end, he has supported a number of MIT programs and initiatives, including a research project exploring factors related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Neuroscientists at MIT recently completed a study exploring the way two genes affect the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The genes, APOE4 and APOE3, are involved in metabolism and the transport of fatty molecules such as cholesterol throughout the body. Though only about 12 percent of people have the APOE4 gene, researchers have found that 37 percent of late onset Alzheimer’s patients share the gene.
The MIT study investigated how APOE4 affected the body. Researchers found that its presence contributes significantly to the accumulation of the proteins that lead to the formation of plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. By editing the gene into the APOE3 variant in stem cells, the accumulation of proteins decreased significantly.
Why the gene increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown, but the study, led by Li-Huei Tsai, the director of the MIT Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, reveals potential for future targeted treatments.
Jean-Jacques Degroof has used the skills and information learned during his studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as his extensive experience in international business ventures, to invest in rising entrepreneurs. In addition, Jean-Jacques Degroof supports a number of creative initiatives at MIT that bring technology, entrepreneurship, and the arts together. One such venture gives MIT students an opportunity to explore the technical and creative aspects of virtual reality as a modern story-telling tool.
Within the humanities department at MIT, students are working together to discover new ways to apply virtual reality technologies. Led by instructor Sandra Rodriguez, students from a variety of disciplines and with diverse skill sets are working to test the boundaries of virtual reality (VR).
The class is intended to explore the technical and artistic capabilities of this new visual medium and its resulting potential. VR is unique in that it can immerse people in an alternative world, revealing story components and characters at a depth greater than any previous technology. For the class, students have assembled complex projects that put VR to work, including games, interactive tours, and a documentary about life after incarceration.
A professor of entrepreneurship at several European business schools, Jean-Jacques Degroof has also mentored several young tech entrepreneurs. Jean-Jacques Degroof holds a PhD in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, where he has served as a researcher and supported the Aging Brain Initiative, which recently published an article on new research regarding a gene related to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
MIT biologists have identified a specific gene that they believe may prevent neurons from getting rid of waste, which may lead to some symptoms of ALS. Their research is based on a study of Caenorhabditis elegans, a microscopic worm that experiences buildup of unwanted substances inside its cells when the gene in question is mutated. This buildup occurs because mutation causes defects in lysosomes, structures that usually eliminate waste.
Researchers believe that this function of this specific gene may cause as many as 40 percent of familial cases of ALS, as studies have shown that an enlarged DNA region in an area of this gene can lead to the disease. This research represents a step forward in the body of knowledge regarding the role of genetics in ALS. The success of future treatments may rely on research focused on drugs that can reduce genetic mutations while maintaining lysosome homeostasis.
With more than 17 years of experience as a venture investor, Jean-Jacques Degroof teaches entrepreneurship at several business schools in Europe. Jean-Jacques Degroof holds a PhD in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, which has developed a new course titled Blockchain and Money.
Led by Gary Gensler, a former wall street regulator and Goldman Sachs partner, Blockchain and Money is designed to introduce students to the world of blockchain, which has the potential to make a significant impact on the financial sector. The course looks at bitcoin, the first major cryptocurrency, and requires students to read Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, by Satoshi Nakamoto, the name used by the unknown person or group that developed the currency.
The new MIT course also introduces students to smart contracts and distributed ledgers, which are vital to blockchain technology. Moving beyond theory, the course explores real-world applications of blockchain technology in the financial industry and in payment systems in several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Kenya.
Alongside his work in venture investing, Jean-Jacques Degroof serves as an international lecturer on topics such as innovation management and entrepreneurship. A graduate of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Jean-Jacques Degroof continues to support the school and its research endeavors.
MIT recently completed a study led by Prof. Li-Huei Tsai on the gene known as APOE4, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and the buildup of amyloid proteins called plaque in the brain. The study sought to compare this gene with its more common expression, APOE3, by examining brain cells developed from human stem cells.
Previous studies had identified significantly increased amounts of amyloid proteins in people with the APOE4 gene variant. In the recent study, MIT neuroscientists sought to discover the cause of that difference by evaluating genes of identical genetic material with the exception of the APOE4 and APOE3 gene. They compared these genes in three different types of brain cells.
The researchers found differences ranging from dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism to increased formation of synapses in the APOE4 gene versus the standard APOE3 gene. Researchers also succeeded in reversing many of these differences in brain cells from a patient with Alzheimer's disease by substituting the regular gene for the variant.
Jean-Jacques Degroof, a self-employed venture investor, mentor, and teacher of entrepreneurship and investment management, is a frequent participant in the Charite Entrepreneurship Summit. During the events from 2013 through 2015, Jean-Jacques Degroof was a member of the summit's advisory group, which helps to organize the conference.
Sponsored principally by the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Charite BIH Entrepreneurship Summit hosts hundreds of global leaders in the healthcare field including scientists, entrepreneurs, lawmakers, and investors. These thought leaders come from all over the world and representatives from Europe, Australia, North America, and Israel have participated in the event over its existence. This event has been held for more than a decade, partnering with different countries to highlight their contributions to the field.
The 2018 Summit will be held in May, and will include topics from areas including healthcare technology, experimental research, and investment. It will also include the Life Sciences Venture Market, in which companies can present their findings to potential investors and collaborators in order to seek funding, advice, and interpersonal connections.
A mentor and educator, Jean-Jacques Degroof earned degrees in organizational behavior and business administration from the Catholic University of Louvain and a Ph.D. in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Now teaching entrepreneurship to business students across Europe, Jean-Jacques Degroof has supported various student organizations such as MIT's chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Founded in 2002, Engineers Without Borders owes its existence to Dr. Bernard Amadei, who visited Belize in 2000 and found a Mayan community living without adequate clean water. After discussing the best way to tackle the issue with his colleagues, Dr. Amadei returned to Belize with a team of students to construct a water supply system.
Now Engineers Without Borders continues to supply clean water to communities around the globe and assists with other development needs, such as installing solar panels for electricity. The organization relies on the efforts of countless volunteers who work to enhance living conditions in impoverished communities. Volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and range from students to skilled professionals.
An experienced business management educator and administrator, Jean-Jacques Degroof is a self-employed venture investor and entrepreneurship and innovation teacher who splits his time between Brussels, Belgium, and Boston, Massachusetts. He has been involved with the Charité Entrepreneurship Summit in Berlin, Germany, for five years. From 2013 to 2015, Jean-Jacques Degroof helped to organize this event as a member of the Charité Entrepreneurship Summit Advisory Board.
In 2017, the event recognized the exceptional past and present support of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) by officially becoming the Charité BIH Entrepreneurship Summit. Another highlight of the 2017 event was a special overseas collaboration with the business leaders of Israel. As an official partner country, Israel enjoyed a special place among the bevy of countries showcasing talented professionals and startups at the Charité BIH Entrepreneurship Summit.
The 2017 Charité BIH Entrepreneurship Summit took place from May 8 to May 9 at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Featured speakers at the event included Doron Abrahami, the minister for commercial affairs and head of the economic and trade mission at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin.
A mentor for young technology entrepreneurs, Jean-Jacques Degroof has enjoyed a successful career that spans the private and academic sectors. Graduating summa cum laude from the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium, he later earned his MS and PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jean-Jacques Degroof has served on various organization boards including that of the Centre of Technological Resources in Chemistry (Certech).
An independent nonprofit entity, Certech was founded in 1996 by UCL with financial backing from the Walloon region in Belgium and the European Union. UCL transferred to Certech, based in Seneffe, Belgium, three of its laboratories long known for ingenuity and industrial joint efforts in chemistry. Certect was primarily intended to assist in reviving chemical-related industries in Walloon and help in job creation.
As a contract research organization, Certech offers its expertise in problem-solving, analysis and measurement, and product and process development to small and large industrial companies. Aside from collaborating with chemical industry firms, it also provides its expertise to other fields including construction, personal care, automotive, and environmental. Over the course of 2016, it entered into 700 contracts involving 210 different enterprises and produced a 70:30 private-public income ratio.
An entrepreneur who advises young tech entrepreneurs, Jean-Jacques Degroof has taught entrepreneurship at several European business schools. A fellow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, Jean-Jacques Degroof takes part in the school’s mentoring program.
The MIT Sloan Student-Alumni Mentoring Program connects students with alumni in a diverse array of industries. Both alumni and students create user profiles by uploading information on careers, areas of study, and other interests. The program suggests matches based on the profile data, thereby expediting students’ search for a compatible mentor.
Students benefit from one-on-one contact with their mentors, who offer advice, answer questions, and share their experiences. Conversely, mentors benefit from contact with students who have access to the innovative educational environment on the MIT campus. In this way, the MIT Sloan Student-Alumni Mentoring Program helps establish mutually beneficial relationships between alumni and the next generation of leaders.