Bio-Photonic Research Group

The Biophotonics Research Group (Group Leader Prof. K. Braeckmans; full professor; physicist) was established in 2008 as part of the Lab. of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy. Research of this team is as aimed at the development of biophotonics-based technologies to (i) study the biophysical behavior of nanomedicines in cells and tissues and (ii) enable more efficient drug delivery. With regard to the former, the Biophotonics Research Team has specialized in the development of advanced light microscopy methods and their application to study the interaction of nanomedicines with biological barriers. At present our biophotonics team is recognized as one of the leading groups in this area, as is for instance evidenced by top-tier publications (including Nature Methods, Nature Communications and Nano Letters) and the establishment in 2018 of the Center for Advanced Light Microscopy, one of the Centers of Expertise of Ghent University. Prof. Braeckmans is main promotor of a recently approved Hercules Grant to acquire the very first super-resolution microscope at UGent which will make this Nobel-prize winning technology available to UGent researchers through the Center of Advanced Light Microscopy. In recent years, to a large extend thanks to an ERC Consolidator Grant that was awarded to prof. Braeckmans in 2015, light-triggered drug delivery became a second major research line. In particular this led to deep research on photoporation. The Biophotonics Research Team has established itself as one of the world’s leading groups in this area with many publications on photoporation in the past 5 years, including in top-tier journals such as Nature Communications, ACS Nano, Nano Letters, Light: Science and Applications and more. Apart from many collaborations within our university and other Flemish institutions, several international collaborations are ongoing as well, for instance with Université de Lille, University of Genoa, Utrecht University, Chalmers University in Göteborg, Technical University of Delft and University of Porto.

(A) Our Centre for Advanced Light Microscopy hosts a variety of advanced optical setups and microscopes of which two examples are shown. (B) Photoporation combines laser irradiation with light-absorbing nanoparticles to transfect cells with high efficiency, high throughput and low cytotoxicity. (C) Illustration of spatial selective delivery by photoporation, showing cells cultured in a petridish which are transfected according to the drawing of Albert Einstein by appropriate scanning of the photoporation laser beam.


Research at the BPRG is structured according to the following 4 themes:

1.    Light-triggered drug delivery
2.    Development of Advanced Light Microscopy methods for functional imaging
3.    Unravelling biological barriers to nanomedicines
4.    Biomedical diagnostics