I attended the KULAK University where I obtained the degree of bachelor in chemistry. Subsequently I obtained a master degree in biochemistry at the K.U.Leuven where I graduated magna cum laude in 2004. In 2005, I started my doctoral research after successfully defending my research project in front of a jury and was awarded an IWT-grant. My research mainly focused on the computer-aided drug design of a novel class of anti-retroviral agents, targeting a protein-protein interaction. This study was carried out in close collaboration with a virology laboratory, and culminated with a (shared) first author publication in Nature Chemical Biology, as well as 4 patents, which were exclusively licensed to Pfizer in 2010.
Apart from my main project and teaching assignments, I was lucky to be able to work on a series of different research projects in collaboration with several laboratories during my PhD. These additional research topics resulted in several publications, and also broadened my experience, especially in modeling. I was awarded a 1 year postdoctoral fellowship by the K.U.Leuven research council, during which I completed several of these projects.
In October 2011, I joined the structural bio-informatics Team at RIKEN, Japan. After my arrival, I was able to secure a JSPS postdoctoral fellowship and a grant-in-aid to continue my work on the inhibition of protein-protein interactions using computer-aided drug design. For this project I started a collaboration with the chemical genomics laboratory to design novel inhibitors for their PPI targets, resulting in two publications. Furthermore, in collaboration with one of my colleagues at the structural bio-informatics team, I have developed a computational electrostatic toolkit (EleKit) that helps design PPI inhibitors. This development later resulted in two spin-off projects under my supervision and a total of three papers. During this time I also competed in the SAMPL4 virtual screening challenge, where I achieved the best prediction, surpassing established computational drug design laboratories and leading to an additional paper. Later, I secured a 3-year FPR postdoctoral fellowship, which started in February 2014, for computational protein design. For this project I collaborate with a protein crystallography laboratory at the Yokohama City University where I perform all the cloning, protein purification, biophysical characterization and crystallization myself.
After leaving Belgium in 2011, I became a guest-lecturer at the K.U.Leuven, teaching molecular recognition and computer-aided drug design, and I return to Leuven every year for one week to teach both theory and practical courses at Masters level.
From 2005 to 2011, I worked as a voluntary travel guide (www.kriskras.be), organizing journeys for people aged 18 to 30 years, during my personal holidays. This experience has not only strengthened my communication and social skills, but also improved my organization and management skills. Furthermore unexpected events have contributed to my flexible attitude.