The Institute of Molecular Biology and Medicine - Pushing back the frontiers of the life sciences

With 90% of the human genome now deciphered, every day thousands of researchers are helping write the "genetic dictionary of Man", thereby increasing our capacity to "read", "correct" and "rewrite" the genes of living organisms, whether they be humans, animals or plants. We have thus been able to push back the frontiers of knowledge of diseases...

The human body is made up of thousands of billions of cells which can at any time malfunction due to disease... Viruses, bacteria and parasites are all an intrinsic part of our environment but sometimes our natural defence system - the immune system - is deficient and we fall ill.

Biomedical research is essential when it comes to developing vaccines or antibiotics or understanding the underlying causes of diseases like cancer, diabetes and hypertension. The models applied in biomedical research also play an important role: in the laboratory, mice, rats or yeast are used to unlock the secrets of cellular processes.

It must be said that the manipulation of a living organism by Man is nothing new. From time immemorial, Man has constantly endeavoured to improve the quality of animal and plant varieties through a form of genetic selection. Today, we can have a direct influence on the way species evolve. The new life technologies - or biotechnologies - are spearheading the fight against cancer, the design of new drugs and vaccines and even the creation of totally innovative forms of treatment.

The Institute of Molecular Biology and Medicine (IBMM) is involved in the study of a wide range of exciting research topics, including the human genome, biodiversity, vaccines and antibiotics.

The IBMM is located at "Gosselies' Aéropole" (Charleroi) and specializes in fundamental academic research and education. This centre of excellence, which is part of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), has no fewer than 250 scientists - researchers, professors, PhD graduates, etc. - who are working together to gain deeper insight into the mysteries of the living world. The IBMM comprises a number of research units which are a branch of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine of the ULB, including internationally renowned biologists, chemists, physicists, IT experts, agronomists, veterinary surgeons and doctors.

Their research has a potential impact on the treatment of different diseases: cancer, AIDS, diabetes, sleeping sickness and nagana, to mention but a few. It can also lead to the development of new vaccines, new drugs, new fertility treatment, and so forth.

The work of these researchers has been awarded some highly coveted scientific distinctions on a number of occasions and their articles have been published in European and American scientific reviews. Furthermore, they are called upon to offer their expertise on many distinguished committees.
The ULB has a long tradition of research in the field of molecular biology dating back to the pioneering work of Professors Jeener and Brachet.

In addition to its primary vocation of research andeducation, the IBMM is also helping revitalize the Charleroi region, where a biotech centre is currently being developed thanks to aid from European funds and the Walloon Region (Objective 1, Phasing-Out).

The collective research centre BioVallée was set up at "Gosselies' Aéropole" in 2001.

The Institute for Medical Immunology, IMI is a research institute of the Faculty of Medicine of the ULB, created with the support of the Walloon Region and GSK Biologicals to build a knowledge platform dedicated to medical immunology.

Several spin-offs from this research are running in Gosselies : Henogen, Delphi Genetics, DNAVision, Euroscreen, etc.

The IBMM is an organization that seeks to push back the limits of the unknown, improve our environment and our health and at the same time revitalize a region that is in the throes of change by attracting companies and of course jobs.