VIB top scientist receives major research grant & VIB presents 2004 results


Ghent, Belgium - VIB (the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology) is presenting its annual results for 2004 today, and Bart De Strooper - one of VIB's leading scientists - is receiving a 'Bristol-Myers Squibb Freedom to Discover Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grant in Neuroscience'. VIB strives for successful combinations of world-class research and economic relevance, and the BMS Foundation grant - a research grant of USD 500,000 - recognizes the research excellence of the institution. The grant is being presented in Ghent by Robert Zaczek, chairman of the Bristol-Myers Squibb grant selection committee. VIB's annual report shows that innovative research is the key to economically relevant results in other research areas as well.

'Innovative research as basis for economic growth' rewarded

In 2004, VIB scientists achieved 188 major breakthroughs in a variety of domains including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, inflammatory diseases, human genetics, and plant growth. This output positions Flemish biotechnological research in the top echelon internationally. Two examples:

Alzheimer's disease

Promising results were achieved in research on Alzheimer's in 2004. Bart De Strooper, active in one of VIB's departments in Leuven, is playing a prominent role in the investigation into the processes that underlie this degenerative disease, which strikes between 50% and 70% of all persons suffering from dementia.

For his team's innovative research on Alzheimer's disease, Bart De Strooper is receiving today a 'BMS Freedom to Discover Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grant in Neuroscience' for a sum of USD 500,000 (386,000 ). The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation awards such research grants to support innovative basic research by researchers in internationally renowned research institutions.

Bart De Strooper is delighted with the award: 'This kind of financing is every scientist's dream! You receive 500,000 dollars to use as you see fit - without having to apply for grants. I'm going to use this money to start up a couple of risk-taking research projects.'

'Dr. De Strooper's work over a decade has given us extraordinary and critical insights into the understanding of enzymes called secretases that have been implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease. Such insights have been crucial to ongoing efforts to discover new therapies that may eventually help treat this debilitating disorder', said Robert Zaczek, group director of 'Neuroscience Biology' at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute.

Crohn's disease

In 2004, VIB research also yielded concrete results for a new kind of treatment for chronic intestinal diseases, including Crohn's disease. Using genetically modified bacteria, the scientists introduced therapeutically active proteins into patients' intestines, where they could operate in a targeted manner. This promising research is now being clinically tested. In addition to its relevance to health care, the research also has significant economic potential.

Fundamental research with economic and social relevance

It is becoming increasingly clear that VIB's innovative knowledge is a continuous source of new technologies and findings, which can form the basis for new social and industrial applications, including diagnostics and medicines. In order to achieve these goals, VIB protects its discoveries via patents. In 2004, VIB submitted 23 patent applications and entered into over 50 collaborative agreements with business and industry.

Also in 2004, VIB's basic research was the foundation for the creation of a new start-up: Peakadilly. This company uses a new technology as the basis for developing and commercializing innovative bio-markers, which are applied in a variety of sectors such as diagnostics, drug development, and nutrition.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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