Joris Messens is since 2012 group leader of the Redox Signaling research group within the VIB Center for Structural Biology and professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. After several years in Biotech-industry as an Industrial Engineer in Biochemistry, he became an expert in protein purification. He obtained his PhD from the John Moores University of Liverpool (UK, 2003) with structural and functional work on arsenate reductase from Staphyloccocus aureus. In 2006, he created together with Jean-Francois Collet (de Duve Institute, UCL) the Brussels Center for Redox Biology (http://redox.vub.ac.be/) as a platform to stimulate redox and oxidative protein folding research. He is author or co-author of more than 90 peer-reviewed publications (h-index = 29), most of which focus on thiol-disulfide exchange and oxidative stress defense mechanisms.
The mission of the Messens lab is to decipher redox-regulated protein-protein interactions in macromolecular complexes, with the ultimate goal to improve oxidative stress resistance in plants and to identify novel therapeutic targets in redox diseases.
How proteins sense oxidation and transduce hydrogen peroxide stimuli into downstream biological effects is one of the major challenges in redox biology. Knowledge of the mechanisms by which these redox sensors and transducers function is invaluable in understanding how these pathways can be engineered, thus opening up new possibilities for the discovery of new targets or treatments. We aim to pinpoint crucial protein switches and to understand the mechanistic on-and-off-processes in communication.