Unraveling molecular machines

Jan Steyaert of the VIB-VUB Center for Structural Biology, testified to his team’s passion for the relationship between the structure and functions of the building blocks of life. “Our bodies are full of molecular machines, and it is our job to unravel the structure of the ‘moving parts.’ This research begins with the nuts and bolts, as it were, and slowly develops until the entire machine has been mapped out, right down to its molecular fibers. Eventually, this will teach us a lot about the operation and functioning of that machine, also when something goes wrong with it in patients.”

Steyaert also advocated a healthy dose of entrepreneurial spirit at VIB’s research centers: “Within VIB, we may well be the most fundamentally oriented center, but we still have an excellent track record in terms of spin-offs. Just think of the discovery of Nanobodies®, which gave rise to Ablynx and other companies. You can instigate or sponsor research valorization, but you also need people who recognize the opportunities. We have achieved this with a healthy internal mix of science and entrepreneurship, complemented and supported by the strengths of VIB’s valorization team.” 

Jan Steyaert, Science Director of the VIB-VUB Center for Structural Biology