Karen Peynshaert

Karen Peynshaert


Karen Peynshaert
Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy
Ghent University
Ottergemsesteenweg 460
9000 Gent
Tel: 0032 9 264 8047 (secretary)
Tel: 0032 9 264 8049 (direct)

E-mail: karen.peynshaert@UGent.be


After obtaining her Master’s degree in Drug Development at Ghent University in 2012, Karen started her PhD at the Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy. The first 2 years of her PhD were dedicated to deciphering the intracellular processing of Quantum Dot nanoparticles with an emphasis on the autophagy pathway, while the following 3 years her focus switched to investigating the drug delivery barriers at the back of the eye. Having obtained her PhD in 2018, she now continues her ocular research as postdoctoral researcher in the same research group.


2020  Award for Science Communication from the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts (KVAB)

2018   APGI Young Investigator Award 2018 (Best Belgian PhD thesis in Drug Delivery)

2017   Prize for best oral presentation at DOPS meeting in Nijmegen, Netherlands

2016   Award of 5000 € from Funds for Research in Ophthalmology for the research project: Exploring strategies to overcome the inner limiting membrane as a barrier for non-viral retinal gene therapy after intravitreal injection

2015    Award of 17.500 euro (2nd best prize) from Funds for Research in Ophthalmology for the research project: An in vitro and ex vivo study into the role of Müller cells in nanoparticle-based gene therapy after intravitreal injection

Science communication

2020     Guest teacher at TAJO vzw (TAlentenonderwijs voor JOngeren)
2019      Organizer of an ocular experimentation booth at FWO-sponsored “Sound of Science” Festival
              Presenter at UGhent-organized event on “Communication for Researchers”
2018      Competed in ‘Battle of the Scientists’, a contest that challenges researchers to communicate their research to primary school children.
2018      Participated in ‘Utopia’, an art-and science fair for children of all ages.
2017       Attended ‘Let’s Talk Science’ summer school
2014-2017  Coach of workshops in ‘Effective Scientific Communication’ (doctoral schools course)

Research interests

My PhD project, sponsored by an IWT grant, focused on the application of advanced ex vivo models to investigate the drug delivery barriers at the back of the eye. More specifically, the barriers encountered after intravitreal injection, i.e. an injection in the vitreous gel of the eye.

Karen figuur









We developed a novel model, a “vitreoretinal explant”, designed to examine the barrier role of the inner limiting membrane (ILM) toward nanoparticles. Thanks to this model, we confirmed that the ILM is the most prominent barrier preventing drug delivery to the retina and deciphered the impact of nanoparticle size on their penetration through the ILM. My postdoctoral project therefore focusses on innovative approaches to overcome the ILM as a barrier along with the formulation and evaluation of novel nanoparticle formulations.