Flemish scientist Nico Callewaert (VIB-UGent) in Top 20 Translational Researchers

11 September 2013

​Only 2 Europeans receive this distinction

Gent, September 11, 2013 - Converting scientific discoveries and insights into new applications – the so-called translational research – is a challenge. Nico Callewaert (VIB/UGent) is the only Belgian in the “Top 20 translational researchers”. He was selected partly due to his research into converting cells into medicine factories. The top 20 was selected on the basis of interest from the bio sector in scientific publications on the one hand and on the other hand on patents obtained in Europe and the USA. The list, published by the Bio-entrepreneur information site of the leading journal Nature Biotechnology, is dominated by American scientists. VIB and MRC (Medical Research Council, UK) are the two European research institutes on this list. For VIB, this is recognition of their technology transfer policy, with which the institute creates a social benefit from scientific fundamental research.
Yeasts as manufacturers of biotech medicines
Nico Callewaert and his team study how they can convert cells such as yeast and mammalian cells to manufacture medicines. The benefit of these new techniques is that they allow biomedically active proteins to be equipped with the correct sugar molecules. The presence of these sugar molecules often determines the effectiveness of the protein as a medicine. Approximately 70 % of the new biotech medicines contain such sugars.
In 2012, the group of Nico Callewaert – together with VIB colleagues at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the biotech company Oxyrane – published on the development of a new technology that would allow for a more efficient treatment of metabolic diseases such as Pompe’s disease. Nature Biotechnology cited this publication as one of the reasons for including Nico Callewaert in the top 20.
Nico Callewaert (VIB/UGent): “As a medical biotechnologist it was a pleasant surprise to be picked up in this top 20. It is based on both having recent publications that were highlighted for particular biotechnology relevance, and on a high level of activity in obtaining granted patents in the US and EU. The VIB technology transfer team and my mentors have been instrumental for this over many years, as has been the ability to work with a great group of coworkers at the VIB-UGent biotech campus that has such a long tradition in the biotechnology field. We will continue to work hard to make sure that this research and patents continue to form the basis for useful improvements for patient's lives as well as economic value where appropriate.
Johan Cardoen (Managing Director at VIB, responsible for Tech Transfer): VIB has a very active policy to convert quality, innovative scientific research into the creation of a social benefit. This is evidenced by the creation of new start-up biotech companies and the signing of collaboration agreements with life sciences companies (VIB signed 116 contracts with industry in 2012). Nico Callewaert is the perfect ambassador to reflect these goals of our institute.
Creating a social benefit from scientific research: one of the main goals at VIB
VIB has an active technology transfer policy. This means that the VIB converts scientific discoveries and insights into applications that serve society and result in an improved quality of life.  The innovative basic knowledge of the VIB forms a continuous source of new technologies and discoveries that can form the basis of new social and industrial applications, such as diagnostic tools or medicines.  In order to achieve this, the VIB protects its discoveries with patents. These are actively licensed to companies, both nationally and internationally, who want to convert the discoveries to useful products or applications.
More information about the publication in 2012 in the press release dated 19/11/2012 on http://www.vib.be/en/news/Pages/New-technology-for-a-more-efficient-treatment-of-Pompe-disease-and-other-metabolic-disorders.aspx
More information about the bio-entrepreneur top 20 of translational scientists.
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