Thomas Michiels


Meet Thomas Michiels

Professor Thomas Michiels is full professor at UCL, Belgium (teaching general microbiology, molecular biology, and virology) and a group leader at the de Duve Institute of UCL. His group’s research focuses on the interactions between viruses and their host. After revealing the importance of lambda interferon in protecting epithelia against viral infections, his group’s research has recently identified a new virulence mechanism shared by viruses and bacteria.

Thomas Michiels obtained his PhD in Science from the University of Louvain (UCL) in 1988. He then contributed, with Guy Cornélis, to the discovery of the type III secretion system of bacteria (Michiels et al., Inf. Immun. 1990; Michiels et al., J. Bacteriol. 1991). With an EMBO long-term fellowship, he was then introduced to the field of Virology, as a post-doc at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, in the laboratory of Prof. Michel Brahic. There, he started to work on the persistent infection of the central nervous system by Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (Brahic, Bureau and Michiels, Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 2005). In 1993, as a Research Associate of the FNRS, he established his own research group at the de Duve Institute of UCL. The main discoveries made by his team at the de Duve Institute about Theiler’s virus and interferon were:

  • The identification of a cis-acting RNA replication signal in the coding sequence of Cardioviruses, that turned out to be conserved in the picornavirus family (Lobert et al., PNAS, 1999)
  • The observation of a type I IFN response in the mouse, including in neurons (Paul et al., PNAS 2006)
  • The discovery that IFN-lambda primarily acts as an antiviral protection of epithelial tissues (Sommereyns et al. PLoS pathog. 2008)
  • The elucidation of the mode of action of TMEV protein L* as an antagonist of RNase L activity (Sorgeloos et al. PLoS pathog. 2013 + Drappier et al. PLoS pathog. 2018)

Scientific Advisory Committee

SAC chair

Peter Piot

Peter Piot is the Handa Professor of Global Health and former Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medi...
SAC member

Philippe Desmeth

Philippe Desmeth is bioengineer and environmental consultant by training. He is a member of several International Scientif...
SAC member

Isabel Leroux-Roels

Isabel Leroux-Roels is working as a clinical microbiologist and infection control physician at Ghent University Hospital (...
SAC member

Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff

Professor Rübsamen-Schaeff was the founder and the CEO of AiCuris, a German Biopharma company dedicated to the research an...
SAC member

Steven Van Gucht

Steven Van Gucht holds a PhD in Veterinary Sciences (virology). He started his career at Sciensano in December 2005 as a S...
SAC member

Alain Vanderplasschen

Alain Vanderplasschen is Professor of Virology and Vaccinology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the ULiège. He is ...