The VUB Francqui-Collen Chair 2023 “Treating and preventing viral infections” has been appointed to Professor Johan Neyts.

We are happy to invite you to the inaugural lecture and lessons by Prof. Neyts @ VUB campus Jette.

Johan Neyts is full professor of Virology at the University of Leuven. He teaches virology at the medical school and at the school of dentistry. His lab has a long-standing expertise in the development of antivirals strategies and drugs against emerging and neglected viral infections such as dengue and other flaviviruses, Chikungunya and other alphaviruses, enteroviruses, noroviruses, HEV and rabies and is intensively involved in the development of antiviral strategies against SARS-CoV2. A second focus of the lab is the development of a novel vaccine technology platform technology based on the yellow fever virus vaccine as a vector; this includes among other, vaccines against rabies and SARS-CoV2. Together with Prof. Kai Dallmeier, the team developed the PLLAV (Plasmid Launched Live Attenuated Virus) technology, which allows to rapidly engineer highly thermostable vaccines against multiple viral pathogens. Johan is past-president of the International Society for Antiviral Research ( Four classes of antivirals discovered in his laboratory have been licensed to major pharmaceutical companies (two on HCV, one on dengue and one on rhino/enteroviruses). He is the co-founder of KU Leuven spin-offs Okapi Sciences and AstriVax. He published ~620 papers in peer reviewed journals, has been the promotor of >30 PhD theses, has given ~300 invited lectures and provides content to a larger audience via lay-press.
Twitter : @neyts_johan
ORCID 0000-0002-0033-7514
Researcher ID : U-8267-2017

The Francqui-Collen Chair is hosted by Prof Joeri Aerts. After having obtained a PhD from the University of Leuven (2002), prof. Aerts worked as a postdoc at the Surgery Branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA under the guidance of Dr. Suzanne Topalian (2002-2004), where he was trained in tumor immunology. He then worked at the Barts Cancer Institute at the Queen Mary University of London (2004) headed by prof. Iain McNeish, where he was involved in the development of novel oncolytic viral vectors. In 2004, he returned to Belgium and started working at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he runs his own lab since 2015. The focus of his current research in tumor immunology is aimed at the development of oncolytic viruses as novel immunotherapy tools. Building on his longstanding experience with cancer immunotherapy, prof. Aerts has also acquired significant expertise in immunotherapy against HIV during the last decade. This is evidenced by several publications in this field, as well as his involvement in a number of investigator-driven clinical trials. A large number of national and international collaborations have resulted from this research. He has also been evaluating mRNA as a flexible tool for immunization against HIV, long before they have become the basis for the most successful COVID-19 vaccines. Recently, his research is focusing on the development of novel formulations for the delivery of mRNA. Prof. Aerts is also involved in teaching (several courses in immunology, course in cell-, gene and tissue engineering), is the promoter of several Master and PhD theses and is a member of several national and international commissions.

Professor Neyts will give five lectures as VUB Francqui-Collen Chair Holder. The venue is Brussels Health Campus, Laarbeeklaan 103, Brussels.

Please register here.

  • 20/4/2023 – 16h30: Inaugural lesson followed by a reception: The battle against viruses: a lot has been achieved, yet still a long way to go
  • 3/5/2023 – 16h30: Lesson 1: The search for potent antivirals against SARS-CoV2 and other coronaviruses
  • 17/5/2023 – 16h30: Lesson 2: The story of the discovery and development of an ultrapotent pan-serotype dengue inhibitor with a unique mechanism of action
  • 25/5/2023 – 16h30:Lesson 3: Mapping the anti-virome (or the Achilles’ heel) of viral families by using small molecule antivirals identified through phenotypic HTS as a tool
  • 8/6/2023 - 16h30: Lesson 4: The yellow fever vaccine as a unique vector for the development of highly potent vaccines against SARS-CoV2, rabies, Ebola, Zika and others