The largest human diagnostic centre in Wallonia

October 23rd 2019

Created in 1958, the Institute of Pathology and Genetics (IPG) has a centre for human genetics and two test laboratories. We have met with Jean-François Ghidetti, general manager of the IPG.


Who are the IPG’s clients?

Jean-François Ghidetti: ‘We work with almost every hospital in Wallonia, as well as several in the south of Brussels and many private medical practices. More than a dozen institutions in France, the Netherlands and Germany also regularly send us samples for analysis. Lastly, through our subsidiary, we offer services to industries that are not covered by INAMI (Belgium’s national institute for health insurance), including companies and biotech players active in R&D, pharmaceutical studies and clinical studies.


What types of analysis do you offer?

Each year, we conduct an average of 6,500 genetics consultations and 350,000 analyses of human samples. When a sample reaches us, it goes to one of our three departments: pathological anatomy, genetics(1) or molecular and cellular biology. That being said, our work processes are integrated following a matrix structure, since the lines between all these disciplines tend to be increasingly blurry.’ 


Your business model is somewhat unusual, isn’t it?

‘That’s right! The IPG is a non-profit association that receives no public subsidies, meaning we are fully self-funded. Our prices are determined by the official INAMI scale; this does not prevent us from making reasonable profits, which we reinvest into new equipment, recruiting talented staff and research projects(2). It helps keep up with the latest techniques while meeting the current and future needs of both our clients and partners. And in the end, it all benefits patients and clinical physicians.’


Can you give examples?

’Our department of pathological anatomy is transitioning to digital platforms. Microscope slides can now be scanned and processed using computer tools (zoom, colouring, counting, etc.), with algorithms helping make more accurate diagnoses. Digital storage also facilitates transferring data and getting second opinions.

In genetics, in collaboration with KU Leuven, we have pioneered non-invasive prenatal testing(3) and now perform 29,000 such procedures each year. We also analyse more and more liquid biopsies. Lastly, we have our own Novaseq Illumina sequencer; it lets us carry out full genome sequencing, which should soon be reimbursed by INAMI.


The IPG is at the BioPark since 2006. What are the site’s benefits?

’I can think of at least three. First, we are right in the middle of our main area of influence, Wallonia, and work with dozens of couriers that ensure daily connections with our clients. Second, we are near the Brussels South Charleroi airport, which provides valuable opportunities for international development. Third, we believe that local policymakers are very willing to accelerate the transition towards an economy centred on high-tech industries. With our 350 physicians, scientists and (highly) qualified technicians, we areand wish to remainpart of this evolution that will improve the health of all people.



  1. The IPG’s department of genetics is one of 8 authorised centres for human genetics in Belgium.
  2. IPG funds between 20 and 25 research projects each year.
  3. Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) evaluates the risk of trisomy (13, 18 and 21) by analysing cell-free foetal DNA.


Author: Candice Leblanc