dr. Rein Verbeke (PhD)

CRIG member
Rein Verbeke

Postdoctoral researcher - Lab for General Biochemistry & Physical Pharmacy, Dept. Of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UGent)
Principal investigator: prof. Stefaan De Smedt (PhD)


Research focus

In the last three decades, an improved understanding of the mRNA pharmacology, together with novel insights in immunology have positioned mRNA-based technologies as next-generation vaccines. My postdoctoral research focuses on the validation of a novel mRNA nanovaccine (GALSOMES).
In this approach, we hypothesized that it could be of benefit to uncouple the translation and type I IFN activities of mRNA vaccines, and to replace the type I IFN response by another, but “smarter” adjuvant. As such, we proposed a novel nanovaccine for the co-delivery of “immunosilent” mRNA and the natural killer T cell activator α-GalCer. 
We were able to demonstrate that this GALSOME approach holds advantages over state-of-the-art mRNA vaccines, by providing a controllable, multifaceted, and effective antitumor immunity, especially when combined with checkpoint therapy.


Rein Verbeke obtained his Master’s Degree in Drug Development from Ghent University in 2013. In 2019, he obtained his PhD in pharmaceutical and medical sciences at Ghent University under the supervision of prof. Stefaan De Smedt and dr. Heleen Dewitte. His PhD focused on mRNA-based vaccination for the treatment of cancer, with an emphasis on the design of mRNA lipid nanoparticles and the adjuvancy of mRNA vaccines His research was awarded with the BiR&D (Belgian industrial Research and Development) multidisciplinary PhD thesis award and the prize of the Royal Belgian Academy for Medicine for research in pharmaceutical sciences, together with dr. Dewitte. 

Rein is also active in science communication, and organizes the science festival “Pint of Science” (Bruges).

Key publications

  • Three decades of messenger RNA vaccine development. Nano Today, 2019 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nantod.2019.100766)
  • Broadening the Message: a nanovaccine Co-loaded with Messenger RNA and α-GalCer Induce Antitumor Immunity through Conventional and Natural Killer T Cells. ACS Nano, 2019 (PMID: 30742405)
  • Co-delivery of nucleoside-modified mRNA and TLR agonists for cancer immunotherapy: Restoring the immunogenicity of immunosilent mRNA. Journal of Controlled Release, 2017 (PMID: 28987878)
  • Nanoparticle design to induce tumor immunity and oppose the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Nano Today, 2014  (doi 10.1016/j.nantod.2014.10.001)

Contact & links