Jan Tavernier (VIB-UGent) in Top 20 Translational Researchers

12 December 2019
Moving from scientific insight to innovative applications is not always an easy road to travel. Each year, the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology compiles a list of twenty researchers who excel in navigating this challenging path. Jan Tavernier (VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology) is only the second Belgian ever, and one of the very few Europeans, to make it onto the US-dominated list. The list is an aggregate score of number of patents granted in that year, patent citations and h-index. 

Receptor magic
The lab of Jan Tavernier specializes in unraveling the fundamental functioning of cytokines and their receptors that drive a wide variety of biological mechanisms underlying health and disease. Following the understanding of basic receptor mechanisms, Jan’s team moves on to manipulating receptor signaling, which has numerous potential applications.

In their recent work, for example, the lab has been developing so-called AcTakines. These cytokine fusion proteins bind to a receptor but only induce receptor signaling in selected cell types. This can be used in new treatment approaches for cancer and immune- or inflammation-related disorders.

Tech transfer excellence at VIB
With his inclusion on the list, Jan Tavernier follows Nico Callewaert (VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology) as internationally recognized top translational researcher. They are the only Belgians ever to be included, which is a great recognition of VIB’s technology transfer policy that aims to directly translate groundbreaking science into societal benefits. 

In order to achieve this, VIB safeguards its inventions with patents through the work of the dedicated Innovation & Business team in close collaboration with the researchers. These patents rights are actively licensed to national and international companies or can be retained to support the inception of novel spin-offs. Tavernier’s patent portfolio has been instrumental in VIB’s value creation for its start-up Orionis Biosciences.

Nico Callewaert congratulates his colleague: “This is a well-deserved recognition of Jan’s incredible translational work. Nine patents granted in a single year, it would be hard to believe if I hadn’t seen it first-hand! ”


Jan Tavernier
©VIB-Ine Dehandschutter