PostDoc / staff scientist to develop clinically viable brain delivery technologies for biologicals

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

29 Apr 2019


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

Bart De Strooper Lab



About the lab

The Laboratory for the Research of Neurodegenerative Diseases, headed by prof. Bart De Strooper, invites applications for a full-time ambitious scientist to strengthen the team.

The major hurdle to bring medication to the brain is the blood-brain barrier. We obtained major funding for a major effort to generate technologies to deliver therapeutic drug candidates over the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The strategy is based on receptor-mediated transcytosis (RMT), a method proven to be able to shuttle therapeutic relevant concentrations of biological drugs to the brain. This method targets affinity binders (e.g. antibodies, antibody-fragments, peptides, …) towards nutrient transporters (e.g. transferrin receptor, insulin receptor, glucose transporter, …) present at the BBB. Once bound, the antibody fragments will shuttle along with those transporters (and their nutrient cargos) from the blood to the brain. Currently about 5 receptors are capable to shuttle antibodies into the brain, but all of them have a limited capacity, combined with a low brain specificity and/or a suboptimal safety profile.

The aim of this project is to identify, through a highly innovative and challenging in vivo screening platform, novel RMT receptors with higher capacity and/or safety and/or specificity profile. Additionally, due to the smart design of the platform, this study will also identify VHHs (Nanobodies®, single-chain antibody fragments originating from camelids) able to cross the BBB through these receptors. The major goals of this highly translational project are:

  1. to generate a therapeutic drug candidate for cancer brain metastasis in the next three years /li>
  2. getting proof-of-concept for our in vivo screening platform
  3. found a spin-off company around the technology and generated drug candidates

The current BBB-team in Prof. De Strooper's lab comprises 4 researchers and is supported by two major local grants (SBO (FWO) & Grand Challenges (VIB)), and some other funding resources (FWO scholarship & Cure AD fund). The team has ongoing intense collaborations with multiple national and international academic partners and companies. The collaboration (and funding) is coordinated from within the De Strooper lab.

Your job

To strengthen this team, we are looking for a dynamic and ambitious scientist preferentially with experience in blood-brain barrier studies and/or antibody/VHH drug development and interested to bring invention to practice. The selected candidate will be responsible to implement and extend VIB's biologic-to-brain delivery platform. The candidate is expected to participate in the practical lab work and to guide and supervise colleagues. This project is situated at the cross over between academic research and industry and is co-supervised and supported by VIB Discovery Sciences, VIB's team of industry-trained scientists.



  • Interested in delivering drugs to the brain
  • Experience with standard cell biology (mammalian cell culture, FACS, immunofluorescence, …) and molecular biology techniques (cloning, protein expression & purification,  
  • Experience with assay development (ELISA, AlphaScreen, cell-based screens, reporter assays, …)
  • Able to collaborate effectively with the academic partners, CRO's, external co-development partners and VIB's Innovation and Business team, able to guide lab members/technical assistants.
  • Innovative and creative personality
  • Hands-on attitude
  • A keen interest in translational research
  • Ability to independently generate precise, reliable data and interpret them
  • PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Neurosciences or a related field
  • Fluency in English (verbally and in writing) is mandatory

Desirable but not required

  • Expertise in Blood brain barrier biology
  • Expertise in antibody and nanobody technology
  • Experience with project management
  • Experience with industrial collaborations
  • Experience in a non-academic environment
  • Experience with in vivo models
  • Experience in antibody candidate generation, hit selection methods, cross-reactivity testing, cellular functional testing, affinity and potency testing, etc.
  • Experience in protein engineering and/or affinity maturation methods
  • Experience with phage display
  • Good publication record

We offer

  • An exceptional strong scientific environment
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and possibility to invest in new infrastructure as needed
  • A stimulating, diverse international research environment in a world-class academic laboratory
  • Given the substantial translational track in this project: coaching and support from our industry experts at VIB Discovery Sciences
  • Animal models, patient material, expertise in neurodegenerative disorders
  • Start date: as soon as possible - the position is immediately available

How to apply?

Please complete the online application procedure and include a detailed CV, a short motivation letter describing previous research experience and the names and contact information of 3 references. Interested candidates are invited to apply as soon as possible. Applications will be welcome until the position is filled.

For more information: please contact Bart De Strooper

For extra information: