Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences

Research priorities - Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences

Research priorities

In 2010 the University of Antwerp defined nine research priorities, drawing together the areas of both fundamental and applied research in which the University of Antwerp has built up long-standing expertise and an international reputation for excellence.  These priorities help determine research funding needs and identify partnerships in industry. In addition to the nine research priorities there are also three growth points, which may be future priorities.
 
The Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences conducts research in five of these nine priority fields and in two of the three growth points:

Priority: Drug Research

Drug research consists of a sequence of innovative processes. In the preclinical phase it investigates targets and active substances, and this is followed by preclinical drug development. Drug research ends with a clinical study among patients.  Research in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences focuses on the preclinical phase of drug development.
 
A large portion of the research carried out in these fields is covered by the Antwerp Drug Discovery Network (ADDN), which the World Health Organization (WHO) recognises as a Reference Centre.
 
Faculty research groups involved
Bio-Imaging Lab
Physiopharmacology
Galenic and Industrial Pharmacy and Biopharmacy
Laboratory for Microbiology, Parasitology and Hygiene (LMPH)
Laboratory for Pharmacognosy, Functional Food and Pharmaceutical Analysis
Medicinal Chemistry
Medical Biochemistry
Pathophysiology 

Priority: Neurosciences

The University of Antwerp has a long-standing tradition of carrying out neuroscientific research. In 1933, the Born-Bunge Institute was founded at the university by Professor Ludo van Bogaert, a pioneer in the field of clinical neurosciences. Together with the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, the Born-Bunge Institute has been the Centre of Excellence in Molecular and Clinical Neurosciences (NEURO) since 2006, led by pioneer in Alzheimer's research Christine van Broeckhoven. NEURO conducts research into the pathophysiological processes which underpin neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, frontotemporal dementia, multiple sclerosis and other related diseases.
 
However, the research carried out in this priority area extends even further than the research done at NEURO. Several well-equipped laboratories are conducting both fundamental and applied research into complementary or related research areas, such as neuroplasticity and cognitive and behavioural neurosciences.
 
The University of Antwerp's extensive expertise in neurosciences is also reflected in its educational programmes: The Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences offers students the chance to specialise in Neurosciences as part of the Biomedical Sciences programme.
 
Involved research clusters from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences
Bio-Imaging Lab
Cell Biology and Histology
Medical Genetics cluster
VIB - Department of Molecular Genetics cluster
Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, Physiology and Pharmacology
Laboratory for Theoretical Neurobiology and Neuroengineering
Neurochemistry and Behaviour
 
Core Facilities involved
Antwerp Biobank
Genetic Service Facility
Biomedical Microscopic Imaging
Bio-Imaging Lab

Priority: Imaging

The Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences also has a long-standing tradition of performing research into various forms of biomedical imaging. The big advantage of biomedical imaging is that it allows us to examine the structure and function of cells, tissues and organisms in a non-invasive manner.
 
Expertise in this field is grouped under the ‘Expert Group Antwerp Molecular Imaging’ (EGAMI). Also involved in this interfaculty group are the Cell Biology and Histology group's Biomedical Microscopic Imaging core facility as well as the Bio-Imaging Lab, Molecular Imaging Center Antwerp (MICA) and the Vision Lab. 
 
Strong links have also been established with research conducted at Antwerp University Hospital (UZA) on radiology and nuclear medicine.  The highlight of this collaboration was the opening of the Molecular Imaging Center Antwerp (MICA) in the spring of 2011, a partnership between the University of Antwerp, UZA and Janssen Pharmaceutica.
 
Faculty research groups involved
Bio-Imaging Lab
Cell Biology and Histology (CH)
 
Core Facilities involved
Biomedical Microscopic Imaging
Bio-Imaging Lab

Priority: Infectious Diseases

This priority incorporates the multidisciplinary research being carried out into infectious diseases and vaccines, with an emphasis on microbiology and immunology. It involves contributions from research areas such as epidemiology, statistics, sociology and economics and includes fundamental research as well as both preclinical and clinical research. This multidisciplinary approach has also been described as "from patient to bedside and back". In addition, the research is conducted in a highly competitive international environment in collaboration with hospitals, industry and the Institute of Tropical Medicine.
 
Faculty research groups involved
Laboratory for Microbiology, Parasitology, and Hygiene (LMPH)

Priority: Ecology and Sustainable Development

Ecology investigates the relationship and interaction between organisms and their environments.
One of the research topics addressed in this field is environmental toxicology. Our faculty's years of research in this area have led to a better understanding of the impact that toxic substances have on the biological organisation and complexity of the environment. We make use of a wide range of testing methods in order to measure and characterise environmental impact, from the molecule right up to the ecosystem as a whole.
 
Faculty research group involved
Toxicology

Growth point: Genomics and Proteomics

Today, life sciences research is characterised by the integration and systematic study of large quantities of data, often the result of analyses that produce large data throughput. The suffix '-omics' in English refers to the holistic approach that we use when examining these data sets: we pay more attention to the whole than to the individual elements of the research topic. Areas for research include (human) genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics. The large quantities of data obtained when researching these '-omics' require specialised data analysis methods. Fortunately, rapid technological developments in this field have produced a wide range of techniques which allow us to record the genome or transcriptome in a reliable and cost-effective way and these techniques are used by various research groups at the University of Antwerp. The growth point aims to go further in this area and to bring the research groups closer together, with an emphasis on the link between genomics and proteomics.
                                   
Faculty research groups involved
Medical Genetics
Protein chemistry, proteome analysis and epigenetic signalling (PPES)
Medical Biochemistry

Growth point: Oncology

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