Human influenza is a contagious disease caused by influenza A or B viruses. Influenza is characterized by high morbidity and considerable mortality especially among the elderly and certain risk groups. Influenza A viruses circulate in several animal species and create problems, in terms of animal welfare, but also as a reservoir of new genes for humans influenza A viruses. Influenza is a vaccine-preventable disease and a few small molecule antiviral drugs are available.

Xavier Saelens

Group Leader
Group Leader at the VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology, VIB, Ghent, Belgium, 2015-Present
Full Professor Molecular Virology (100%) at the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent University, 2020-2032
Full Professor Molecular Virology (50%) at the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent University, 2018-2020
Full Professor Molecular Virology (10%) at the Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Ghent University, 2008-2017
Expert Scientist, Inflammation Research Center, VIB, Belgium, 2009 – 2015
Project Leader, Inflammation Research Center, VIB, Belgium, 2005-2009
Postdoctoral Assistant, Faculty of Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium, 2004-2009
Postdoctoral Researcher, Cell Death Signaling unit (Peter Vandenabeele unit, UGent and VIB), 1998-2003
Postdoctoral Researcher, Lab. of Molecular Biology (Walter Fiers lab; influenza group, UGent and VIB), 1991-1997
Phone: 0468265746

Research areas

Human diseases Immunology & inflammation Medical biotechnology Microbiology

Research Focus

One important aim of our research is to develop novel vaccines and antivirals against influenza. For this we focus on the influenza A virus M2 protein and on the viral neuraminidase. We are particularly interested in the protective mechanisms of action of such novel influenza vaccines. We study how interferon induced Mx1 counteracts influenza viruses. We are also pursuing a new approach to develop a cross-protective vaccine against influenza B virus and are developing novel antibody-based therapeutics against influenza viruses.

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We are always on the lookout for highly motivated colleagues to join our team. If you are interested, please contact us.


The Xavier Saelens Lab can only thrive thanks to the dedication and commitment of its people, no matter what their function or seniority.


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