Prof Peter de Witte

Position
PharmaSea project coordinator, Head Laboratory for Molecular Bio-Discovery at KU Leuven

Institution/Company
University of Leuven

Address
O&N II, PB 824, Room 08.4221, Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, University of Leuven, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium

Peter de Witte

Peter de Witte obtained his PhD in 1989 at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, KU Leuven. In the period 1989-90 he held post-doc positions at the Laboratory of Cytokines FDA Washington (USA), and GSK Rixensart (Belgium). Since 2003, he is full professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences of the KU Leuven, and is heading the Laboratory for Molecular Bio-Discovery (LMB) where he has been responsible since 1992 for the identification of new (photo)diagnostics and (photo)therapeutics, both of natural and synthetic origin.

Peter has extensive experience in devising, applying for funding, and managing leading-edge research projects. He has published more than 190 papers (> 4400 Citations, h-index = 37) as first, co- or corresponding author in internationally peer-reviewed journals, and is/has acted as promoter/co-promoter/partner of multiple multi-party research projects (university, federal and international level) to date. He is also co-inventor of a number of patents.

Nowadays the lab activities focus on generating tailor-made zebrafish models of human diseases and zebrafish toxicity reporter lines. The primary advantages of zebrafish for drug discovery include their high genetic, physiologic, and pharmacologic similarity with humans, as well as the small size, optical transparency, rapid development, and large numbers of their embryos and larvae. In the lab zebrafish models of human diseases (with an unmet clinical need) are used to discover novel lead compounds from chemical and natural product libraries. Also multi-organ safety/toxicity assessments of compounds, using zebrafish lines expressing fluorescent tags in specific organs, in combination with different metabolism strategies are performed. Over the past years, a large battery of mutant disease-mimicking and transgenic organ-reporter fish lines have been created and acquired. The lab has major efforts underway to find hits with novel chemical structures in the area of epilepsy.

The lab has equipment and zebrafish-related expertise in transgenesis, mRNA/morpholino injections, wholemount in-situ hybridization, qPCR, DNA/protein electrophoresis, Crispr, Western blotting, (fluorescence) microscopy, zebrafish locomotor (photo) respons measurements, local field potential (electrophysiology) measurements, and yolk and pericardial zebrafish injections. A fully operational and automated zebrafish facility is housed in the lab consisting out of 66 zebrafish tanks.