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VIB researchers involved in Brian Kobilka's Nobel-prizewinning research

VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Prof. Brian Kobilka and Prof. Robert Lefkowitz for the discovery of G-protein-coupled receptors. Jan Steyaert and his colleagues were involved in the groundbreaking work in which Brian Kobilka's research team discovered the structure of these receptors. Jan and his colleagues work at VIB Department of Structural Biology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Plants and animals are made up of billions of cells. For the optimal functioning of organisms, cells must receive information from their surroundings and from neighbouring cells. In the same way that we see with our eyes and smell with our noses, cells have similar mechanisms to detect hormones and small molecules. The receptors on the surface of the cells that take care of this are known as G-protein-coupled receptors.

These receptors were indentified during the course of the 20th century and, in recognition of the importance of this discovery, Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Jan Steyaert and his colleagues from the VIB Departement of Structural Biology Department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel were involved in the pioneering work in which Brian Kobilka's research group discovered the structure of the receptor. Their results led to two joint publications in the authoritative journal, Nature. This illustrates that VIB is a research institute that is recognized at a global level.


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VIB is a non-profit research institute in the life sciences in Flanders, Belgium, with 1200 scientists conducting strategic basic research on the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the functioning of the human body, plants, and micro-organisms. Through a partnership with four Flemish universities - Ghent University, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the University of Antwerp, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel − and a solid funding program, VIB unites the forces of 72 research groups in a single institute. Through its technology transfer activities, VIB strives to convert the research results into products for the benefit of consumers and patients. VIB develops and disseminates a wide range of scientifically substantiated information about all aspects of biotechnology. For more information, please visit

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is a flourishing university in the heart of Belgium and Europe. In 1969-1970, VUB separated from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), which was founded in 1934. The university combines excellent education with outstanding research. Several of the 150 research groups are counted among the best in the world. For the VUB, the principle of 'free research' is central to their values. Equally important is the quality of the bachelor and master's programs which are offered in an environment where students are not numbers and where there is plenty of room for individual tutoring and self-development. The Vrije Universiteit Brussel currently has more than 10,000 students and 2,700 members of staff, divided across eight faculties and two campuses in Brussels: one in Etterbeek/Elsene and one in Jette. The medical campus in Jette is adjacent to the University Hospital of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, with its 3,000 staff members. More at

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