Dr Rik Gijsbers, Associate Professor, Laboratory of Viral Vector Technology and Gene Therapy, Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, KU Leuven

Professor Rik Gijsbers obtained his degree in bioscience-engineering at the KU Leuven in 1997, and his PhD degree in Medical Sciences (Biochemistry) at the same university in 2003. As a post-doctoral researcher, he moved to the Debyser lab in Leuven, where he studied retroviruses and their cellular cofactors, with a particular focus on the development of safer retrovirus-derived viral vectors and their use in gene therapeutic approaches. In 2014 he was appointed assistant professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences (Faculty of Medicine – KU Leuven) and in 2019 associate professor.

He is the Principal Investigator of the Laboratory for Viral Vector Technology and Gene Therapy at the KU Leuven and is responsible for the day-to-day management and scientific innovation of the Leuven Viral Vector Core (LVVC, established in 2010). His research focusses on (i) the engineering of safer viral vectors for gene therapy employing synthetic vectorology and redesigning cellular cofactors and (ii) development of gene therapeutic approaches using viral vector technology for rare genetic disorders.

Currently, his team addresses STAT1 gain-of-function combining CRISPR and gene addition (collaboration with Prof. R. Schrijvers, UZ Leuven) and cystinosis (with Prof. E. Levtchenko, UZ Leuven). In addition, via the LVVC a platform for molecular imaging, target identification and validation, and to develop both cell and small animal models using different viral vector-based technology platforms (RV, LV and rAAV).

As promotor or co-promotor, he supervised 9 PhDs, defended at KU Leuven. Currently, he supervises 4 PhD students (2 as promotor, and 2 as co-promotor), and 3 technicians. He published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers (3043 WoS citations, h-index: 33).

Dr Gijsbers is inventor on two patent applications in the field of viral vectors and gene therapy. His academic teaching duties include >10 courses in the training program of Biomedical Sciences, Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences (KU Leuven and KULAK), among which the following: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1st bachelor), Medical Biotechnology: genetic manipulation and gene therapy (2nd bachelor), Advanced Biotherapeutics, Pharmacogenomics and Precision Medicine (1st master).