BELSACT Executive Committee Elections | Announcement of 2024 Candidates


I am a 15+ years experienced project manager with strong expertise in gene and cell biology currently leading the development of advanced preclinical services for biotech and medtech companies in the fields of immunology and infectiology (CER Groupe).
My scientific career first focused on the understanding of the mechanisms that underlie stability and plasticity of genetic information using innovative molecular and cellular bioassays (UCLouvain, Oxford University, ULB, UNamur). These works contributed to understand the way DNA and RNA processing machineries are organized at the cellular level with potential applications for global society concerns such as cancer. This expertise has contributed to my accomplishment as a project manager in biotechnology for the development of diagnostic tools for infectious diseases (Fast track Diagnostics-Siemens healthineers) and the application of advanced therapies to treat neurological disorders (NeuVasQ Biotechnologies). All these work experiences have sharpened my mind to become a recognized scientist with strong transversal technical and leadership skills.


The field of bioproduction with animal cells has a crucial role in modern medicine for the synthesis of advanced therapy medicinal products such as CAR-T, recombinant AAVs, or lipid-based nanoparticles.
The CER Groupe is a key actor in this chain as we provide complete solutions for bioproduction, analytical characterization and/or preclinical analysis of these new biologics. We also develop state of the art cellular methodologies to address the innocuity and the efficacy of these biologics with alternative methods to in vivo assays. Our major expertise in these fields is recognized by the number of valued biotech and medtech companies that trust our tailored services.
With my transversal expertise in the field of modern drug production and characterization using both molecular and cellular assays, my knowledge of both academic and private research sectors, I believe that my profile might be of interest to be part of the scientific committee of BELSACT. As the CER Groupe collaborates with central actors of Animal Cell Technology, our implication would also contribute to the networking and scientific progress spirit promoted by the BELSACT.

DRUGMAND Jean-Christophe

After obtaining my engineering degree in Biochemistry, I pursued a Ph.D. thesis focusing on the cultivation and modeling of insect cells while serving as a Teaching and Research Assistant at the University of Louvain (Belgium). Upon completing my thesis, I transitioned to Artelis in 2006, where I assumed the role of Scientist, tasked with conceptualizing disposable bioreactors. Following Artelis’s acquisition by ATMI LifeSciences in 2010, I was appointed Manager of the Cell Culture Development Lab. During my tenure, I successfully managed high-value projects in the vaccine field and cell and gene therapies, collectively valued at several million euros. Later, with the acquisition of ATMI LifeSciences by Pall Life Sciences, I continued to lead the upstream and downstream lab’s CDO activities in vaccine, cell, and gene therapy.

Subsequently, I joined Novadip (Belgium), a Cell Therapy company specializing in bone treatment (ATMP products), as Director of Manufacturing Operations and Industrialization. Transitioning to Univercells, I served as a Senior Bioprocess Architect before assuming responsibility for the Upstream division and vaccine development. Following the restructuring of Univercells into different subsidiaries, I joined Univercells Technologies as an Innovation Leader, tasked with conceptualizing and designing solutions to redefine animal cell-based bioprocessing, earning a promotion to a senior level.

With the recent acquisition of Univercells Technologies by Donaldson, I continue to lead the Univercells Technology Innovation team and collaborate with Donaldson’s Bioprocess divisions. In addition to my professional responsibilities, I remain active in academia, delivering lectures for many years at the Meurice Institute (Belgian Engineering High School), the professional forming center (non-profit organization Culture in-vivo Belgium), and the University of Louvain.


I believe that every scientist has a responsibility to share their knowledge, regardless of whether they work in academia or the private sector. The values of BELSACT, which aim to promote scientific communication in the field of animal cell culture, foster interactions between the academic and industrial worlds, and encourage collaborations among partners, align perfectly with my mindset.

For the past three years, I have been actively involved in BELSACT activities, consistently participating in ESACT and BELSACT congresses, and recently had the honor of serving as chairman of the 4th BELSACT congress. My primary motivation for joining the Executive Committee is to facilitate direct interactions between individuals from academia and private companies across Flanders and Wallonia.

Therefore, if given the opportunity, I would like to join the Executive Committee. Having worked extensively in cell culture and actively shared my knowledge as an invited lecturer at the Meurice Institute and as a guest speaker at various seminars, I believe I can strengthen the scientific committee with my expertise, enthusiasm, and professional network.


Bassem is currently a senior group leader at UCB pharma in the Biologic Process Sciences group based in Braine l’Alleud (Belgium), dedicated to developing enabling cell culture bioprocess platforms, technologies and solutions for all NBEs (from candidate selection to patient, market launch and throughout commercial lifecycle). Passionate about biology and modelling biological systems, Bassem holds a PhD degree (2017) in Biochemistry & Biochemical Engineering from University of Saarlandes in Germany focused on predictive macroscopic modeling of Chinese hamster ovary cells in fed-batch processes. During his PhD, he successfully developed simple and robust modeling methodologies to predict cell culture performances which is currently used at UCB to accelerate early stage process development. Bassem participated to his first BELACT (previous name of BELSACT) meeting in 2015 and was part of the group of people that dynamized the BELACT association.


It is with great enthusiasm that I am applying to the BELSACT Committee. I’m passionate about biology, modeling and animal cell culture technology since the start of my young career at UCB Pharma. I contributed to the animal cell technology community through presentations in different scientific conferences (oral and poster presentations) and through various scientific publications. I was part of the team that decided in 2019 to dynamize the BELACT, because it was no longer active since 2016 and there was still a need for young and senior scientists from Belgium and countries of close borders to be part of a community to support and encourage creativity, dialogue, innovative science and trust. After 4 years of great collaboration and discussion with BELSACT members and after 4 successful scientific events organized (one during “COVID period”), the need to have this community active is still here. During that period, I was actively supporting the BELSACT committee by creating, updating and maintaining the website. On top of that I actively participated to most of the event and meetings in order to build and strengthen this community. I’m still motivated in being actively part of this committee, supporting the different events and proposing new ideas in order to develop the BELSACT community and hope to count on your votes.


Dr. Florence Chainiaux is a cell biologist and graduate of the University of Namur (UNamur). She worked as an FNRS Research Associate at UNamur for 15 years and led the SAGE (Stress and Ageing) team, whose research focused on the impact of stress on cellular senescence. She was particularly interested in studying the impact of oxidative stress and/or DNA-damaging agents on the premature appearance of the senescent phenotype in human skin cells. Signal transduction pathways involved in the development of the senescent phenotype following stress exposures were also investigated by larger studies of the transcriptome or proteome. She will shortly be starting a new career at GSK, as Associate Director in Molecular Biology, where she will be involved in clinical data analysis.


Being involved in Belact since 2016 as treasurer, I took an active part in the creation of the Belsact ASBL in 2020 and was appointed as administrator and treasurer. I was involved in the practical organization of Belact/Belsact meetings. As I will soon be working for GSK, I would like to continue my involvement with Belsact and offer to continue my role as treasurer for a 2-year mandate. I’ll be happy to act as a link between Belsact and my academic and soon industrial network.


Valentine Chevallier, following her MSc graduation in 2013, joined the upstream sciences group (UPS) at UCB SA as an Associate Scientist specializing in media development. In 2017, she embarked on a PhD journey at UCB Nordic in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Since 2020, Valentine leads the UCB cell culture media development center of expertise and manages a team. Simultaneously, she actively contributes to the BELSACT ASBL, serving on the executive committee from 2020 to 2024 as secretary and participating in the organization of Namur and Leuven events. Additionally, she is a member of ESACT Frontiers since 2022, working to supportthe growth and foster connections among early career scientists in the ACT field.


Since the inception of my career in Belgium back in 2013, I have actively sought engagement within the ACT community. Initially, I participated in ESACT meetings, and now I am an active member of both ESACT Frontiers and BELSACT ASBL. My conviction regarding the value of a local community in Belgium has only grown stronger over time, given the presence of excellent biotech sciences and related industries in this country and its proximity. BELSACT plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between industry and academia, fostering collaboration, creativity, and ultimately contributing to the development of a robust ACT community. The initial years of BELSACT ASBL have already demonstrated the validity of this assumption, and I am committed to continuing my contribution to its growth.

KNOTT Isabelle

Isabelle Knott is Biosafety Director at GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines in Belgium. She has more than 26 years of management experience and effective leadership in pharmaceutical industry. She led large technical groups in R&D and GMP environment (Quality Control organization) developing strong expertise in cell culture technologies and virology. She demonstrated technical and analytical experience in product development and commercial vaccines lifecycle by contributing to several viral vaccines now on the market. She is lecturer in ESACT Vaccine Technology course.
Isabelle has a PhD degree from the University of Namur, Belgium.


Belgium is a Pharma Valley and BELSACT as scientific association is a contributor to this network. BELSACT is a place to meet academic and industry in Belgium. Connections between the 2 “worlds” are important to support innovation and attract talents. I am with BELSACT and former BELACT since 1999. I have also connections with ESACT. By leading several teams in different fields during my career, I can easily build bridges and support networks.

SILVA Luís Bernardo

Following his MSc in Clinical Nutrition, Luís Bernardo Silva moved to Belgium for a traineeship in fermentation. In 2019, he joined UCB Pharma, where he began working with animal cells, initially as an Associate Scientist before advancing to the role of Scientist. At UCB Pharma, Luís has specialized in process scale-up, Raman technology, and cell banking, among other areas, while serving as the upstream process development lead for a CMC project. Additionally, he contributed to the scientific community as the secretary of the fiscal council for the Portuguese Society for Food and Nutrition Science from 2016 to 2020.


Since completing my studies, I have actively pursued engagement with associations like BELSACT, which are dedicated to promoting and disseminating scientific knowledge while fostering collaboration between academia and industry. Over the past three years, I have been deeply involved in organizing the scientific meetings, contributing as an active member. This experience has solidified my interest in BELSACT’s mission and prepared me to take on greater responsibilities. I am eager to further contribute by joining the executive committee, where I can use my organizational skills and dedication to help our animal cell technology community grow.

COLETTE Sébastien

Current position: Associate Director, Clinical Trial Material Project Lead at GSK Vaccines.
Previous positions: Associate Scientist / Scientist / Expert Scientist / Product&Process Expert in
Technical R&D at GSK Vaccines (10 years)
Education: Master and Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences obtained at UCL, Brussels, Belgium in 2011.
Expertise in cell culture obtained through my Ph.D. (mainly primary cell cultures of endometrial cells in flasks) as well as my 10 years spent in Cell&Viral Drug Substance Department (CHO, HEK-293, MRC-5, and VERO cells grown in flasks as well as in different types of bioreactors in batch, fed-batch and perfusion modes, for production of recombinant proteins as well as viral vectors).

Expertise in process development, project management (from early development phases to
commercial transfers), as well as in project life-cycle management.


For the last 4 years, I was involved in BELSACT activities. I was part of several organizing/scientific committees related to BELSACT conferences held once a year. My biggest interest in becoming a permanent member of this organization is the opportunity to trigger direct interactions between people coming from academic (students to professors) and private companies. Indeed, we have the chance to have a brilliant/recognized scientific environment in Belgium. I think that it’s important to maintain this Belgian scientific network up-to-date, and to give access to young scientists to that network.
Since BELSACT is currently mostly composed of people coming from the South of Belgium and North of France, it would be great to engage more people from the North of Belgium. That begun with the recent involvment of people from K.UL. That’s something we need to pursue in the coming years.

SART Sébastien

I have been graduated with an engineering degree of Ecole de Biologie Industrielle (France) in 2005. Then, I obtained a PhD in bioengineering from the Catholic University of Louvain in 2011, by working on the expansion and differentiation of stem cells into bioreactors. Afterwards, I did a first post doc at Florida State University (USA) on the design of novel biomaterials for the culture of pluripotent stem cells. From 2013 to 2020, I held a second postdoctoral position at École Polytechnique and at Institut Pasteur (France) for the development of a droplet microfluidic platform for 3D cell culture and analysis. Since 2020, I am a permanent research scientist at the Institut Pasteur of Paris. Currently, my major research field of interest is the culture and differentiation of stem cells, as well as the derivation of organoids using microfluidics. I am also serving as editor-in-chief of Cytotechnology since 2018.


My scientific interests lie at the intersection of fundamental biological sciences and the development of novel technologies. Since the beginning of my career, the “animal cell technologists” community has been the most aligned with my interests. As such, I became a member of ESACT in 2007 and I attended most of the meetings since then. By the same time, I attended the BELACT meetings since the XIIth in 2008, and I then co-organized XVth meeting in 2016. I then took part in refoundation of BELACT into BELSACT, while I served as a member of the scientific committees for several past meetings. To further my involvement in the animal cell technology (ACT) community, I wish to continue my participation in the Executive Committee (XC) of BELSACT. I believe BELSACT has the potential to become a pivotal force in biotechnology within Belgium and its neighboring regions. By facilitating friendly scientific interactions between academia and industry, I would like to actively pursue my contribution to advancing the missions of BELSACT and contributing actively to its goals at long term.

SCHNEIDER Yves Jacques

Yves-Jacques SCHNEIDER obtained, first, a master’s degree in biochemistry, then a Ph.D. in cell biochemistry and, finally, an agrégation de l’enseignement supérieur (with a thesis in cell pharmacology),both at the de Duve Institute (UCLouvain). From 1987 to 2017, he managed the laboratory of cell, nutritional and toxicological Biochemistry at Louvain-la-Neuve with numerous research national and international projects, became full professor and, from 2013 to 2017, head of the Louvain Institute of Biomolecular Science & Technology; he was (co-)supervisor of ± 200 master’s and 36 Ph.D. thesis. Retired from the University in 2017, he is CSO of it4ip (specialized in nanotechnology products), member of the board of small companies and expert at the food safety section of the Belgian Superior Health Council.


Animal cells cultivation had always be at the center of my professional activities: (i) to investigate transport mechanisms at both cellular and molecular levels in cell biology, pharmacology, and toxicology; (ii) to develop cell culture systems, i.a. as model of the intestinal mucosa (I was involved in the development of microporous substrates, produced by it4ip and worldwide distributed for 35 years); (iii) to teach biotechnology to master students. I was, member of the executive committee of Belact for 25 years, co-founder of Belsact and chairman of the 2013 ESACT meeting in Lille. Accordingly, I would be glad and honored to be elected by this GA at the Executive Committee, but for a last 2 years mandate..