Camels and Camelids

Curriculum Vitae - Muyldermans Serge (Member)

Muyldermans Serge
  • Graduated as Chemist at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium in September 1977
  • PhD at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium in June 1982 with greatest distinction.
  • The structural organization of chromatosomes (nucleosomes), the subunit of chromatin, (i.e. DNA and histone proteins as occurring in the nucleus of eukaryotes) was investigated for the Ph D dissertation.  This topic remained the main research focus afterwards as well and led to several publications in Nucleic Acids Research, J. Mol. Biol, Biochemistry, J.Biol. Chem and a publication in Nature (1998).

  • As a postdoc with skills in cloning, DNA sequencing and genetic engineering Dr Serge Muyldermans switched the focus of his research towards camel heavy chain antibodies as a result of their serendipitous discovery in the laboratory at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He developed a technology to generate and identify the unique single domain antigen binding fragments (referred to as Nanobodies) of these heavy chain-only antibodies.  This technology became the core of Ablynx spin-off of which he was co-founder (2002).
  • PhD defended in 1982
  • Military service in 1983
  • Since 1984 postdoc on research grants
  • Since 1986 assistant (professor)
  • 1995: postdoc researcher at VIB
  • 1998: 15% Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel & 85% groupleader at VIB
  • Groupleader within Structural Biology department at VIB until December 2014.


3. Details of current employment

  • Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel since 2003 (retirement on October 1, 2019)

Responsible for courses on ‘Immunochemistry’, ‘Recombinant antibody technology’, ‘Applied Immunology’, ‘Analytical Biochemistry’, ‘Nucleic acid chemistry and genetic engineering’, ‘Combinatorial biochemistry and high throughput techniques’, ‘Biotechnology’ (~300 hours/year).

  • Guest Professor (10%) at Dalian Technical University (China) since November 2019.
  • Founder and scientific adviser (till 2010) of spin-off ‘Ablynx’ a company to identify camel single domain antibodies (Nanobodies) for human therapy and diagnostic. Founded in January 2002, located in Ghent, employing 600+ people and having 7 Nanobodies atvarious stage of clinical phase. Acquisition by Sanofi in June 2018 for 3.9 B €.
  • Founder of NSF (Nanobody Service Facility) a facility to generate Nanobodies for VIB research groups and academic research groups.
  • Currently advisor of/consultancy’s for Kiso-Ji (Montreal, Canada, generating camel-mouse), Kangyuan (Dalian, China, Nanobodies in Apheresis), Pregene (Shenzhen, China, Nanobodies in CAR-T cells).
  • Supervisor of visitors that learned the Nanobody identification technology in our group: S. Tillib (Moscow Acad Sci, Russia); A. Olichon (now prof @ University of Toulouse); Y. Wan (now Director of Joint Center for Nanobody Research and Development between SEU and Egens, China); M. Abbady (AEC, Damas, Syria); R. Ben Abderrazek, Hassiki R.& I Hmila (Pasteur Institute Tunis, & University of Tunis); Behdani M, Evasalipour M &Hababi-Anbouh M (Tehran, Iran), M. Adel Zakri (King Saud University, Saudi); L. Kent (Cambridge University, UK); SigalGelkop (Beer Sheva, Israel)& 40 more
  • Supervision or (co-)promotor of ~ 90 master students from 1990 onwards on camel antibodies and ~20 Ph.D. works on camel antibodies. External jury member at other universities of about 40 PhD theses.
  • Member of the selection committee for the ‘King Faisal Prize-Medicine’ (January 2009).
  • Expert to evaluate (national) PhD scholarships and research projects and external expert in major research projects in Flanders (2006-2013), Belgium, France (ANR), Netherlands, Germany, US (NIH grants), Kazakhstan, Canada, Chili and for EU (FP6 and e-RARE).
  • Peer-reviewerof manuscripts submitted to some 30 journals, including Nature Biotechn., Nature Meth., Nature Immunol Rev, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports, Science, Science Advance, Blood, Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.US, Nucl.Acids Res., J.Biol.Chem., J.Mol.Biol., Anal.Chem., Mol. Immunol., Proteomics, Biochemistry, FEBS Lett., Vet.Immunol.Immunopath. J.Immunol.Meth., Prot.Enging& Design & Select, Biol.Chem., Developm.Comp.Immunol., Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry.
  • Editor tasks for Journal of Camel Practice and Research, Biomolecules, Current opinion in Biotechnology, Antibodies and PLoSOne. Editor of book on ‘Single domain antibodies Methods in Molecular Biology series.
  • Annually (before Covid-19), invited 10-15 times to give lectures at international conferences, or seminars at universities & industry on camel antibodies and Nanobody applications. 


5. Grants held over the last years

  • EU-FP7; Affinomics protein binders for characterization of human proteome function; M. Taussig and 14 others; 2011-2015;  € 520 k
  • VIB; Nanobodies; Muyldermans; 2011-2015; € 400 k
  • US Airforce; Identification of Yersinia pestis specific Nanobodies for diagnosis and therapy; Muyldermans; 2009-2011; $ 50 k
  • EU FP7; A European Infrastructure of Ligand binding; Taussig & 20 others; Muyldermans; 2008-2010; € 30 k €
  • Chromotek licensing fee; Nanobodies against GFP as research biological; Muyldermans; 2009-2012; 285 k € total
  • VUB R&D: Strategic Research Program; Muyldermans; 2013-2017; € 450 k
  • FWO (science council); Toxocara diagnosis with Nanobodies and proximity ligation; Muyldermans; 2014-2017; €240 k
  • SBO: NanoCoMIT: Nanobodies for non-invasive in vivo imaging; 2015-2018; € 500 k
  • FWO: science council; Site-specific labeling of Nbs for in vivo imaging; 2015-2018; € 340 k
  • ERANET: 180 k€: Neuroniche: Nanobodies for spinal cord regeneration.


  • Co-author of about 230 articles on camel antibodies in peer-reviewed international journals (about 20 articles in journals with IF>10; over ~30,000 citations, h-index: 85 – Since 2016: 15100 citations, h-index 61; source Google Scholar - October 2021)
  • 15 articles in books have been published.
  • Editor of book “Single domain Antibodies” (Methods in Molecular Biology) Springer.
  • About 20 patent applications on camel antibodies.
  • 100+ abstracts in proceedings, and poster presentations.


7. Five most relevant publications of career

1.    Hamers-Casterman C., Atarhouch T., Muyldermans S., Hamers C., Robinson G., BaiyanaSonga E., Bendahman N., &Hamers R.

Naturally occurring antibodies devoid of light chains

Nature363, 446-448, 1993. (3008 citations Google scholar, October 2021)

2.     Muyldermans S.

Nanobodies – Natural single domain antibodies.

Ann Rev Biochem82, 775-797, 2013 (IF 34.3) (1368 citations Google scholar, October 2021)


3.    Ghahroudi A M., Desmyter A., Wyns L., Hamers R., Muyldermans S.

Selection and identification of single domain antibody fragments from camel heavy-chain antibodies.

FEBS Letters414, 521-526, 1997.(921 citations Google scholar, October 2021)


4.    Muyldermans S., Atarhouch T., Saldanha J., Barbosa JARG,  Hamers R..

Sequence and structure of VH domain from naturally occurring camel heavy chain immunoglobulins lacking light chains.

Protein Engineering7, 1129-1135, 1994. (618 citations Google Scholar, October 2021)


5.     Jovcevska I, Muyldermans S.

The therapeutic potential of Nanobodies.

BioDrugs34 (1): 11-26, 2020January 28. (182 citations, Google scholar October 2021