Gilles van Wezelis Professor of Molecular Biotechnology and Director of Microbial Biotechnology & Health at Leiden University and guest professor at the Netherlands Ecology Institute (NIOO-KNAW); he is Director of the Centre for Antimicrobial research (CARES) and board member of the Netherlands Centre for One Health (NCOH) and the Netherlands Antibiotic Development Platform (NADP). Van Wezel received prestigious research fellowships from the Royal Academy (KNAW; 2001-2006) and from the Netherlands Technology Foundation STW (VICI; 2009-2014) and was founder of the biotech company Mycobics BV. van Wezel secured funding from numerous large Public-private partnerships. These include the VICI project on systems biology of antibiotic and enzyme production by streptomycetes, Genexpand (genomics and expression of antimicrobial drugs), Back to the Roots (antibiotics produced during plant-microbe interactions) and Syngenopep (antimicrobial peptides from animal venoms). He currently coordinates a large PPP consortium for antibiotic research called NACTAR, with support from the Dutch Ministry of Health and NWO. His team won the Academic Year prize in 2011 with Antibiotica Gezocht! (wanted: antibiotics!), for translating science to the public. He is President elect of the International Symposium on the Biology of Actinomycetes (ISBA), which organizes the largest meeting in the field. He has published more than 140 papers and is co-inventor of 12 patents.
Leiden University has been an international university since its founding in 1575. Since those early days, it has developed into a university that host over 3000 international and exchange students each year in its Bachelor and Master programmes, almost 1000 international PhD students and more than 800 international academic staff.
Leiden University analyzes global developments and challenges through an international perspective on law, governance, security, health, and more. This expertise is further strengthened by strong links with international partners (NGOs, IGOs, UN organizations) in The Hague, city of international law, peace and justice. Among the research foci, Leiden University investigates „Fundamentals of Science“, „Translational Drug Discovery and Development“, „Bioscience: the science base of health“, and „Health, Prevention, and the Human Life Cycle“.
In the field of bio and life sciences the Leiden Bio Science Park hosts many international companies and start-ups that are closely linked to the university and play an important role in the university’s international profile.
Prof. van Wezel’s team is composed of more than 20 international and multi-disciplinary researchers, whose aim is to provide novel insights into the complex regulatory pathways that control growth, development and antibiotic production of filamentous actinomycetes, and apply this knowledge for improved commercialization of these important industrial microorganisms. There is a strong relationship between public institutions, private partners and the Molecular Biotechnology Lab. This has led to participation in multiple synergetic national and international research projects, SYSTERACT (ERASys APP-funded) among others. A leading thread in the research is the resonance between fundamental and applied research. Our aim is to understand the biological principles, which is then applied in a rational design and evolution approach to obtain novel technologies and leads for industrial applications.
Gilles van Wezel and his team will provide scientific expertise in natural product research and in particular approaches to activate and elucidate novel bioactive natural products, and facilitate their production at larger scale. This includes approaches to create production hosts that are optimized for growth and productivity. Van Wezel will also offer his expertise and national and international networks in drug development, based on his role as director of the Centre for Antibiotic Research (CARES; Leiden) and as director anti-infectives within the theme AMR of the Netherlands Centre for One Health, and in policy-making in the field of AMR.
He will contribute 30 years of experience in the biology of actinomycetes, which produce over 70% of all antibiotics used in the clinic, and numerous other natural products. As President of the ISBA, he will be able to make the necessary connections within the field of microbial drug discovery.