ICMS2019 - Advisory Board and Speakers - Sophion


Advisory Board

Professor David Beech

David Beech graduated in Pharmacology from the University of Manchester UK in 1985 before PhD study with Thomas Bolton at St George’s Hospital Medical School London and postdoctoral training with Bertil Hille at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. In 1992 he established an independent research group at the University of Leeds UK, funded initially by a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Career Development Fellowship and then a full university professorship since 2000, moving from the Faculty of Biological Sciences to the Faculty of Medicine and Health in 2013. His research is focussed on calcium-permeable non-selective cationic channels of mammalian cells – their mechanisms, roles and potential as new therapeutic targets. He is particularly interested in the idea that the channels importantly sense physical and chemical factors to regulate cardiovascular and metabolic health. He has trained 74 postgraduate and postdoctoral research scientists, published 150 peer-reviewed articles (including 2 in Nature and 4 in Nature sister journals) and delivered 157 invited lectures worldwide. He was elected to Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2013 and became a Wellcome Trust Investigator in 2016 and British Heart Foundation Programme Grant Holder in 2018. Since 2016 he has been Director of the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, a research and teaching organisation of over 200 staff in the School of Medicine at Leeds. He founded and continues to direct the British Heart Foundation 4-Year PhD Programme in Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes and the Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre, a pan-university / teaching hospital structure for all cardiovascular research in the Leeds region.


Professor Annette C. Dolphin

Annette Dolphin received her BA in Natural Sciences (Biochemistry) from the University of Oxford and her PhD from University of London, Institute of Psychiatry. She then held postdoctoral fellowships at the College de France in Paris, and at Yale University, before returning to the UK to the National Institute for Medical Research, London; followed by a lectureship in the Pharmacology Department of St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London University. She was appointed Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London University in 1990, and moved to University College London in 1997. She is a Professor of Pharmacology in the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology at UCL. She was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999, and the Royal Society in 2015. She is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator and held a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship (2016-17).


Professor Stephen Tucker

Stephen Tucker is a Professor of Biophysics in the Clarendon Laboratory at the University of Oxford, and also Director of the Wellcome Trust PhD programme in Ion Channels and Disease. After studying Biochemistry at Oxford he did his PhD at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the John Radcliffe Hospital studying the CFTR chloride channel. After this, he went to the Vollum Institute, Oregon USA for two years as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Travelling scientist, and in 1996 he returned to Oxford as a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow where he worked closely with Prof Dame Frances Ashcroft, FRS on the ATP-sensitive K+ channel and other inwardly-rectifying K+ channels. In 2000 he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Physiology, and in 2008 he was appointed to a University Lecturership in the Department of Physics. In 2015 he was made a Professor of Biophysics in the Department of Physics and is currently a fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford. The Tucker lab employs a wide range of structural, functional and computational approaches to study ion channels, and current work is focussed on the Two-Pore domain (K2P) family of potassium channels.


Professor David Wyllie

My long-standing research interest is in ligand-gated ion channels (LGICs) – specialized pore-forming membrane proteins that are activated by neurotransmitters during ‘fast’ chemical synaptic transmission. In particular, my lab studies LGICs activated by L-glutamate – the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain. Although glutamate activates several different classes of LGIC one, in particular, the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) has been a major focus for our research. Through electrophysiological studies, my lab has contributed significantly to our understanding of the structure-function properties and physiological roles of the various subtypes of NMDARs. NMDARs play pivotal roles in both normal and abnormal brain function. In early life or instance, they ensure that the correct wiring pattern is laid down in the developing brain. Furthermore, activation of NMDARs is required to learn certain tasks and store memories. However, both over- and under-activation of NMDARs can be deleterious for normal brain function. For example, during a stroke excessive activation of NMDARs contributes significantly to neuronal loss, while NMDAR dysfunction is thought to contribute to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia. More recently it is now recognised that de novo mutations in the protein sequence of NMDARs can lead to intellectual disability. Directly related to our structure-function studies of NMDARs we use pre-clinical models of single gene causes of neurodevelopmental disorders (such as fragile X syndrome) to study the properties of the altered synaptic function and to assess the extent to which pharmacological intervention can ameliorate the changes that are observed in such models. A more recent focus of our research is the electrophysiological and functional characterization of defined neuronal and glial populations derived from human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells and specifically those from individuals suffering from neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Our work seeks to assess the electrophysiological profile of such neurons in order to further our understanding of these debilitating diseases. Our overall aim is to develop an integrated approach to research that begins with the study of single protein molecules and synaptic function and extends, through collaboration with colleagues, to whole animal studies with an ultimate goal of the clinical study and treatment of disease.




Professor Slav Bagriantsev – Yale University

Slav Bagriantsev is an Associate Professor of Physiology at Yale University. Our laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to study the molecular basis of sensory physiology, with a focus on mechano- and temperature-sensitivity. We apply electrophysiology, molecular biology and biochemistry to understand the molecular basis of the sense of touch and temperature.


Professor Thomas Baukrowitz – Christian-Albrechts Universität zu Kiel

Thomas Baukrowitz is Professor of Physiology at Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel (Germany). The main research
interest of my group is to understand the structural mechanisms underlying the complex regulation of K+ channels (such as K2P channel, Kir channel and Kv channels) by membrane voltage, mechanical force, temperature, various lipids and pharmacological compounds.


Sylvie Ducki – Institut de Chimie de Clermont-Ferrand, France

Graduated with a PhD in Organic Chemistry in 1997 from the University of Manchester UK, Sylvie Ducki continued with a postdoc (1998-2000) in Chemistry of Natural Products at the Cancer Research Institute in Arizona State University (USA). Back in Europe in 2000, she worked as a researcher in Medicinal Chemistry at the pharmaceutical company Pharmacia in Nerviano (ITALY). In 2001, she obtained her first academic position as Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Salford UK, where she was promoted as Senior Lecturer in 2005. In 2007, she joined the National Graduate School of Chemistry of Clermont-Ferrand (ENSCCF which became SIGMA Clermont in 2016) as a university professor in CNU 32, organic chemistry. In Clermont, Prof Ducki is group leader the CESMA team (Design Extraction Synthesis of Analgesic Molecules) within the Institute of Chemistry of Clermont-Ferrand (UMR6296) and Vice-President of the Analgesia Institute. During her career, Professor Sylvie Ducki published over 60 articles in international journals and filed 5 patents. These articles have been cited more than 2700 times (h-index 26).


Professor Fredrik Elinder- Linköping University

PhD in Neurophysiology from Karolinska Institutet. Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at Linköping University since 2004. Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Linköping University since 2012. My scientific work has focused on the understanding of the mechanisms to open and close voltage-gated ion channels and how to modulate these mechanisms.


Professor Mark Farrant – University College London

Mark Farrant is Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology at UCL (University College London). He was awarded a BSc in Zoology from the University of Nottingham and a PhD from the University of London (UCL). He carried out postdoctoral work in New York (SUNY) and London (UCL). He is a former Reviewing Editor for The Journal of Neuroscience and former director of the Ion Channel Course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. His laboratory has studied the function of ionotropic GABA-A and glutamate receptors in relation to neuronal and glial signalling for more than twenty-five years. In recent years, the lab’s work has focussed on the regulation of AMPA-type glutamate receptors by ‘auxiliary subunits’, notably the transmembrane AMPAR regulatory proteins (TARPs).


Professor Stefan Feske – New York University

Dr Feske is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at NYU School of Medicine and the Director of the new Ion Channel and Immunity Program at NYU. He graduated summa cum laude with a research thesis and M.D. followed by a residency in rheumatology at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He conducted his postdoctoral studies at the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology and Harvard Medical School where he has made essential contributions to the discovery of the CRAC channel protein ORAI1. Dr Feske identified the first patients with CRAC channelopathy due to mutations ORAI1 and STIM1 genes. Research in his lab at NYU is focused on the functional characterization of ORAI1 and its activator STIM1 and on understanding how CRAC channels regulate immunity to infection, cancer and in autoimmunity. A newer focus of the Feske lab is to systematically investigate which ion channels control immune responses in health and disease with the ultimate goal of identifying new drug targets for immunotherapy.


Professor Marc Freichel – Heidelberg University

Marc Freichel (Director at the Dept. of Pharmacology, Heidelberg University) is an MD by training and a board-certified consultant in Pharmacology. During his MD thesis (1990/91, Dept. of Medical Biochemistry, Saarland University) he identified regulatory CaVβ subunits of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. During 1995-1997 (Dept. of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, Heidelberg University) he started his work on the functional role of TRP channels in Veit Flockerzi’s lab. In 1998 he moved to the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology (Saarland University) and identified TRPC4 as an essential constituent of cation channels in endothelial cells. From 2004 to 2011 he was appointed as Associate Professor in Experimental Pharmacology and Preclinical Disease Models and the Head of the Transgenic Mouse Facility at the Medical Faculty. By generating numerous transgenic mouse models with deletions or introduction of defined mutations into genes encoding Cav and TRP channels he identified the role for CaVβ2 subunits for cardiac development and contraction in the embryonic mouse heart, for TRPM4 as a molecular break for Ca2+ entry and activation of mast cells, as well as for catecholamine secretion and blood pressure regulation. With his team, he also discovered TRPV6-mediated Ca2+ absorption in the epididymal epithelium as a critical process for the determination of male fertility. He served as a Vice Chairman of the DFG Graduate School 1326 “Calcium signalling and cellular nanodomains”. In 2011 he was appointed as Full Professor and Director at the Department of Pharmacology at Heidelberg University. He is a faculty member of the HBIGS Graduate School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, a member of the ethical review committee of the Medical Faculty evaluating clinical drug trials. Since 2012 he is a Principal Investigator in the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). Recently, he identified defined heteromeric TRPC channel complexes for hippocampal synaptic transmission and associated memory processes and pathological cardiac remodelling. By applying classical gene targeting and genome editing approaches as well as Adeno-associated viral vectors he aims to identify cation channels and their regulators as drug targets in preclinical models as well as to validate small molecule approaches designed for these targets.


Dr David Hackos – Genentech

David Hackos is a Senior Scientist in the Neuroscience Department at Genentech in South San Francisco. Previously David worked for Roche in Palo Alto and Renovis in South San Francisco and in total has over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. His research has focused on targeting ion channels involved in pain sensation with the hopes of developing novel non-opioid pain drugs. David earned a B.A. in physics at Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in biophysics at UC San Francisco and did postdoctoral research at the NIH in Bethesda MD.


Dr Sarosh Irani – Oxford Autoimmune Neurology Group

I am a consultant neurologist and clinician-scientist with clinical and laboratory experiences in the field of autoantibody-mediated diseases of the nervous system, in particular, the central nervous system. I care for patients with these disorders and run a research group combining clinicians, clinician-scientists and basic scientists to learn more about the origins and treatments of these diseases. The autoantibodies target molecules such as the NMDAR, LGI1, CASPR2 and AMPA/GABARs. My group works to make pathophysiological sense of the phenotypes and the autoantibodies by studying by understanding the mechanisms by which the antibodies are generated and their effects on neuronal models. In particular, we are interested in obtaining immune cells which make autoantibodies from patients and assessing conditions which promote and inhibit antibody production. We anticipate this will provide insights into the mechanisms by which autoantibody production can be inhibited.


Thomas Jentsch – Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine

Thomas Jentsch studied human medicine from 1972 to 1978 at the Free University of Berlin (FU Berlin) and from 1974 to 1980 physics at the FU Berlin. In 1979, he received his medical degree and earned his diploma in physics. Thomas Jentsch graduated in 1982 with a PhD rer. nat. in physics at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society and the FU Berlin and 1984 Dr med. med. at the FU Berlin. Afterwards, he was a research assistant at the Institute of Clinical Physiology at the Charité Berlin on the Campus Benjamin Franklin. Between 1986 and 1988, he was a postdoc in the department of Harvey F. Lodish at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1988 to 1993 Jentsch was Research Group Leader at the Centre for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH), University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf. From 1993 to 2006 he was Professor and Director of the Institute of Molecular Neuropathobiology at the ZMNH, from 1995 to 1998 and again from 2001 to 2003 also Director of the ZMNH. Since 2006, Jentsch is a full professor at the Charité Berlin. He is head of the research group Physiology and Pathology of Ion Transport at the Leibniz Institute of Molecular Pharmacology and the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine. Since 2008 Jentsch is the first researcher of NeuroCure. In 2015, The Journal of Physiology honoured him and his associates with a special issue for the discovery of chloride channels and chloride transporters 25 years ago. On May 2, 2017, the medical faculty of the University of Hamburg awarded him an honorary doctorate.


Dr Fusao Kato – Jikei University School of Medicine

Graduated from The University of Tokyo in 1982 and received a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1989 and 2nd PhD in Medical Sciences in 1997. Research associate in Department of Pharmacology, Jikei University School of Medicine in 1984, foreign researcher in l’Institut Alfred Fessard, CNRS, France (1993-1995), Professeur Associé in l’Institut de Chimie Biologique et de la Physiologie, l’Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France (1995-1996; 1998), and invited researcher in The Institute of Molecular Physiology of University of Sheffield, UK (2001). Full Professor of Jikei University of School of Medicine since 2005. Research interests include synaptic plasticity and glia-neuron interaction at the synapses in the in pain/emotion network including the amygdala and in the central autonomic network.


Yoshihiro Kubo – National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Japan

Yoshihiro Kubo is Professor and Chief Chairperson of National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Japan. He graduated from University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine in 1985, and completed a PhD course in Medical Sciences, the University of Tokyo in 1989. He served as Chief Research Scientist in Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience from 1989 to 2000. During this period, he joined Prof Lily Jan’s lab in the University of California, San Francisco from 1991 to 1993 as a Post-doc, where he succeeded in the cDNA cloning of IRK1(Kir2.1) and GIRK1(Kir3.1) channels. He was recruited as a Professor of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Graduate School of Medicine in 2000, and moved to NIPS as a Professor in 2003. He served for The Journal of Physiology for 14 years, as an Editor (2004-2018), Senior Editor (2010-2018) and Deputy Editor in Chief (2011-2016). His research interest is the functioning mechanisms of ion channels and receptors, and focuses on their structure-function relationships and dynamic structural rearrangements, using electrophysiological and opto- physiological approaches. His lab worked so far on the inward rectifier K+ channels (IRK1, GIRK1), voltage-gated K+ channel
(KCNQ1/ KCNE1 complex, hERG, Kv4.2/ KChIP4/ DPP10 complex), Two Pore Na+ channel (TPC3), ATP receptor channel (P2X2), and G-protein coupled receptors (mGluR1, GABABR, muscarinic receptors).


Dimitri Kullmann – UCL Institute of Neurology, UK

Dimitri Kullmann is a professor of neurology at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, London. He trained in medicine and physiological sciences in Oxford and London and holds a DPhil from Oxford. After a post-doctoral fellowship at UCSF with Roger Nicoll, he completed neurology training in London. His laboratory has contributed to the discovery of ’silent synapses’, extrasynaptic actions of glutamate and GABA in the brain, long-term potentiation in different subtypes of interneurons, and mechanisms of neurological channelopathies. His current interests include mechanisms and computational roles of gamma oscillations and gene therapy for epilepsy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Academy of Medical Sciences and is the Editor of Brain.


Jack Mellor – University of Bristol, UK

Jack Mellor graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1995 with a degree in Neurophysiology and stayed in Cambridge to study for his PhD on the biophysics and pharmacology of inhibitory synaptic transmission at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology with Andrew Randall. After completing his graduate work in 1998, Jack worked briefly on science policy at the UK government before joining Roger Nicoll’s laboratory at the University of California San Francisco working on the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. In early 2002 Jack returned to the UK and joined the laboratory of John Isaac at the University of Bristol before setting up his own laboratory in 2004 with an MRC funded Career Development Fellowship. He now leads a team that focusses on how hippocampal network function is modified by synaptic plasticity and neuromodulators.


Paul Miller – Cambridge University, UK

Paul Miller has recently joined the University of Cambridge as a new lecturer in the Pharmacology Department. Previously he
spent 8 years as a postdoc in the Division of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford where he used structural biology techniques to solve structures of GABA-A receptors. Before this he studied and did a postdoc at University College London, using electrophysiology and pharmacological approaches to link structure and function for, principally, Glycine receptors. Currently, Paul combines structural and functional approaches to better understand how GABAA receptors are modulated by ligands. This includes using structural data to guide the design of novel small molecule ligands. Most recently, Paul has contributed to the study of over 100 unique nanobodies (Nb; miniature antibodies), some of which are positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of mouse/rat/human GABAA receptors. These are being studied as useful tools to dissect neuronal functions performed by distinct subtypes, and investigated for therapeutic potential. A main theme in the lab is to study, engineer and produce membrane proteins for use directly as pharmacological tools, and to guide the design of ligands against them, both of which will help to better understand neurological systems and inform on therapeutic development.


Isabel Pérez-Otaño – University of Alicante, Spain

Dr Pérez-Otaño received her PhD from the University of Navarra, Spain where she developed an interest in neuroscience and brain disease. She took postdoctoral training with Professor Steve Heinemann at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego and later worked with Drs. Michael Ehlers and Don Lo at the Neurobiology Department of Duke University on the cell biology of glutamatergic neurotransmission. In 2004, she joined the Neuroscience Department of the Center for Applied Medical Research of the University of Navarra Medical School, which she directed from 2014 until accepting her current post. Her lab aims to identify key cell biological pathways that guide the development and refinement of synaptic circuits and explores links of these pathways to mood, cognition and brain disease. Over the last decade, her work has focused on the properties and roles of a new class of glutamate-type NMDA receptors containing GluN3A subunits (GluN3ANMDARs) in neural circuit development and animal behaviour. She is a recipient of Young and Independent Investigator Awards from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression and has been awarded Research Grants from the Hereditary Disease Foundation (USA), Marie Curie Program and Spanish Government funding agencies. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University (2010) and participates as an independent expert advising the European Commission and UK Welcome Trust on science funding. Recent discoveries from her group described aberrant reactivation of synaptic pruning as an early cause of Huntington´s disease, and her team is undertaking a translational effort to translate this knowledge into therapies.


Guillaume Sandoz – University of Côte d’Azur, France

Guillaume Sandoz (Research Director, CNRS) is a molecular and cellular neuroscientist with a strong background in ion channel physiology and pathophysiology. During his PhD (2000-2004), he studied the regulation of pre-synaptic voltage-dependent
calcium channels. After his doctoral studies, he joined the Lazdunsky and Lesage labs where he developed a proteomic approach to identify proteins which interact with two-P-domain potassium (K2P) channels. In 2009, he joined the Isacoff lab at UC Berkeley as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar. With this group, he discovered a new family of ion channels (AvGluR) and developed a new method (photo-conditional subunit) to endow light sensitivity to endogenous channels. Using this tool, he found that K2P2.1, typically considered to be a leak channel, contributes significantly to the hippocampal GABAB which is involved in sIPSP. In 2012, Guillaume obtained the French ATIP-AVENIR grant, allowing him to start the “Biology of Ion Channels” lab at the iBV, in Nice, France. His group works on elucidating the physiological and pathological implications of K2P channels using optogenetic and single molecule techniques. Previous work from his group has elucidated a link between alcohol-induced neuronal excitability and K2P channel inhibition. More recently, his team has discovered a novel mechanism which causes migraines, opening a new path for the development of medication for treating migraines.


Mala Shah – UCL School of Pharmacy, UK

Mala Shah completed her PhD in the Department of Pharmacology, University College London (UCL) during which she worked on understanding the pharmacology of the slow afterhyperpolarization current, resulting in the identification of a novel inhibitor, UCL 2077, of the current. She subsequently obtained a Wellcome International Prize Travel Fellowship to work with Prof. D. Johnston at Baylor College of Medicine (USA). During this time, she discovered that the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels were persistently reduced following seizures, leading to cortical neuronal hyperexcitability. In 2004, she returned to UCL as a senior fellow and showed that the subthreshold-active K+, KV7, channels, contributed to maintaining the action potential threshold in axons. She obtained her lectureship at the School of Pharmacy in 2007. Her lab’s interests include understanding the function and modulation of cortical and hippocampal neuronal ion channels under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.


Insuk So – Seoul National University, Korea

Insuk So graduated at the College of Medicine, Seoul National University in South Korea and then received his PhD in Physiology at the same college. He finished postdoctoral training with Peter Stanfield at Leicester University. In 1994, he established an independent smooth muscle research group at the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, SeoulNational University right after his employment as a full university professorship. He studied the role of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor-activated nonselective cation channels in smooth muscle cells and showed that Transient Receptor Potential Canonical (TRPC) 4 is the molecular candidate. Since then, for nearly 25 years, his research has been mainly focused on molecular physiology of TRP cation channels (TRPM, TRPC and TRPV subfamilies mediated different pathways of calcium-dependent signal transduction). Recently, he is very interested in studying TRP channels, particularly TRPC channels, in the context of protein-protein interaction by resolving the complex relationship between TRPC channels and G proteins. He considers direct interaction between TRPC channel proteins and G proteins as the most important clue for understanding this issue.


Alexander I. Sobolevsky – Columbia University

Alexander Sobolevsky (Columbia University) earned his PhD in biophysics in 1999 from the Moscow Institute of Physics
and Technology, working under the guidance of Prof. Boris Khodorov. He held his first postdoctoral position in 2000, studying physiology and neuroscience with Dr Lonnie Wollmuth at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He continued his training in biochemistry and biophysics with Dr Eric Gouaux, first at Columbia University and then at the Oregon Health and Science University. He joined Columbia University’s faculty in 2010 as an Assistant Professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, focusing on structure and function of ion channels. In 2017, he was promoted to an Associate Professor.


Sung-Young Kim – Daewoong Pharmaceutical co., Ltd.

Sung-Young Kim is a Head of ion channel research team at Daewoong Pharmaceutical co., Ltd at South Korea. Our team focuses on ion channels to develop intractable neurological disease drugs. He did his PhD at the physiology department at the Seoul National University studying the TRP channel (Advisor: Insuk So). After this, he joined Daewoong Pharma and is conducting research related ion channel drug development.


Thomas Voets – University of Leuven

Thomas Voets graduated as a chemical engineer in 1993, obtained a postgraduate degree in cellular biology in 1994, and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences in 1998 under the guidance of Prof. Bernd Nilius, all at the University of Leuven. From 1998 to 2001, he performed postdoctoral research at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen (Germany), in the laboratory of Professor Erwin Neher. In 2002, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Leuven, Faculty of Medicine, where he teaches Cell Biology, Cell Physiology and Biophysics to (bio)medical students. Since 2010, he is full Professor and chairman of the Laboratory of Ion Channel Research within the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Leuven. Since 2017, he combines this professorship with a group leader position within the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain and Disease Research.

Thomas Voets published more than 200 papers in international biomedical research journals. His recent research focuses on Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels, molecular gateways for ions in the membranes that surround the cells in our body. The opening and closing of these TRP channels initiate calcium signals and electrical impulses that underlie key processes in various cells and tissues, including the central and peripheral nervous system, the heart, the musculoskeletal system and kidneys. Dysregulation of TRP channel function is the cause of various severe inherited and acquired human diseases. The central aim of the research team of Thomas Voets is to provide better insight into the aetiology of TRP-related diseases and to use this knowledge to develop novel therapeutic strategies for patients. In particular, recent research by his team revealed the fundamental roles of TRP channels in acute and chronic pain and form the basis of translational research aimed at developing novel TRP channel-based analgesic drugs.