Geert Houben

Geert Houben

Principal Scientist at TNO and Professor at Utrecht University on Food-borne Risk Factors for Allergic and Inflammatory Diseases
Geert Houben

UMC Utrecht and TNO collaborate in research on food-borne risk factors for allergic and inflammatory diseases. We develop and apply methods to identify and characterize food-borne risk factors that influence the inflammatory state of our body.

Professorship chair

Food-borne Risk Factors for Allergic and Inflammatory Diseases (Utrecht University).

Research area

A good inflammatory balance is crucial for our health. On the one hand we need inflammatory processes, on the other hand they have to be controlled and suppressed. The inflammatory balances are determined by an interplay between intrinsic properties (such as our genome) and extrinsic factors.

The most abundant exposure to extrinsic factors is through our food, but we actually know very little about which and how food-borne factors affect our immune system. The role of the intestinal microbiome and particularly its metabolites are of course very important, but on its turn, the intestinal microbial metabolome is also strongly influenced by what we eat. And also in this respect, we know very little about which factors do this in which way and how that influences immune functions.

Our research aims to elucidate how we can use diet as an intervention or to support interventions in immune health, to develop better diagnosis, patient stratification, and population and personalized management, therapy and prevention of inflammatory diseases.

Top publications

  • Taylor et al. Establishment of Reference Doses for residues of allergenic foods: Report of the VITAL Expert Panel. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2014; 63: 9–17
  • Blom et al. Accidental food allergy reactions: Products and undeclared ingredients. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2018; 142(3): 865–875
  • Houben et al. Full range of population Eliciting Dose values for 14 priority allergenic foods and recommendations for use in risk characterization. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2020; 146: 111831
  • Holleman et al. Poor understanding of allergen labelling by allergic and non-allergic consumers. Clin Exp Allergy. 2021; 51: 1374–1382
  • Turner et al. Peanut Can Be Used as a Reference Allergen for Hazard Characterization in Food Allergen Risk Management: A Rapid Evidence Assessment and Meta-Analysis. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2022; 10: 59-70


Princetonlaan 6
NL-3584 CB Utrecht

Postal address

P.O. Box 80015
NL-3508 TA Utrecht