Christine Durinx joins VIB as co-managing director
Her appointment strengthens VIB’s commitment to focus on the burgeoning fields of data science and personalized health.
April 19, 2022
20 April 2022
VIB and Flemish Minister of Economy and Innovation Hilde Crevits announce the appointment of Dr Christine Durinx as VIB’s co-managing director, alongside Dr Jérôme Van Biervliet. Dr Jo Bury, co-founder and co-managing director since VIB’s inception 25 years ago, is passing the torch to Durinx who is the former Executive Director of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Her appointment strengthens VIB’s commitment to focus on the burgeoning fields of data science and personalized health.
International expertise returns to Belgium
In taking up the position of co-managing director at the life sciences research institute VIB, Durinx will bolster its leadership through her passion for high impact science, experience working with both academia and industry, and visionary approach for future innovation. VIB supports top-tier research, founds spin-offs, and provides the ecosystem with access to innovation, technology, and talent. For over 25 years, VIB’s activities have enriched the Flanders life sciences ecosystem, with further benefits for the whole country’s biotech sector.
Durinx returns to her home country after many years abroad. As Joint Executive Director of the SIB Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics Durinx built the institute’s current international prominence. Interestingly, she did so with a co-director colleague as well. Under their joint leadership, SIB was able to develop the vision and strategy to spur its growth, promote the computational biology it develops and supports, and ensure efficiency and financial sustainability for its future. Before her time at SIB, Durinx held a position as director in international medical communications at a global pharmaceutical company, also based in Switzerland.
She joins VIB as the institute embarks on a new five-year governmental funding cycle with an important focus on data science and personalized health, fields in which her expertise will prove invaluable.
Jérôme Van Biervliet, VIB co-managing director: “I am excited to work with Christine. The timing could not be better as VIB is venturing into a new era of AI-powered biology, starting or ending with real-world patient or crop data. She is truly a unique candidate with hands-on experience in running a virtual scientific research institute in a partnership with many universities and groups. Finally, as a person, I am convinced she will motivate everyone who works with her. The stars are aligned.”
Christine Durinx graduated with a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Antwerp in 2001. After her PhD, she was active as a medical advisor in several pharmaceutical companies in Belgium, before relocating to Switzerland. Throughout her career, she has been strongly involved in several science policy activities related to the long-term sustainability of research infrastructures on a local, European, and global level. Before joining VIB she was executive director of SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics.
Christine Durinx, VIB co-managing director: “The move to VIB is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to contribute to my country’s life science ecosystem. The international reputation of VIB is stellar and I am looking forward to taking it to its next phase of the journey with Jérôme, the science directors, all the other colleagues, and the partner universities. The institute’s emphasis on societal impact and the support of the government truly makes me feel that VIB’s role in the life sciences ecosystem has a bright future. Moreover, I am happy to contribute to the ambition that VIB has expressed in AI and computational biology, as more and more breakthrough research shifts to data-based discoveries, for example, in personalized medicine. I am convinced that, by focusing on this, VIB will create significant benefits for Flanders, Belgium, and Europe. On a personal note, it feels good return to my roots.”
Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister for Innovation: “With Christine Durinx we not only bring a top woman from abroad back to Flanders, but we also bring her expertise in the use of data for faster breakthroughs in biotechnological research to VIB. The use of data is becoming increasingly important. It is also an extra focus that we are placing in the new covenant between the Flemish government and VIB. I would also like to thank Jo Bury for the great cooperation over the years, with special thanks for his commitment to research into the coronavirus via the FWO as chair of the scientific council.”
Leadership for a bright future with new challenges
Managing a research institute as diverse as VIB requires, above all, a passion for high impact science. It also involves a set of very particular skills, including an intimate knowledge of the scientific process, the ability to spot, judge and foster scientific talent, the capability to refine the institute’s processes to instill the trust they deserve, a whole backpack of stakeholder and people management skills, and the strategic vision and agility to anticipate future directions.
VIB’s Board of Directors and a panel of external experts initiated an international search to find the right person to take up this challenge. Out of more than 200 candidates, VIB’s Board of Directors selected Christine Durinx. She takes over the torch from Jo Bury as managing director as of April 2022.
Jo Bury, former VIB co-managing director: “VIB has been the journey of my life. I have had the privilege to spark the concept and lived through the very exciting but unsure inception days of a bold and genuinely new institute with my teammate, Rudy Dekeyser. There are too many founding mothers and fathers to name who can collectively claim to have built an institute with an impact that no one could have ever predicted. It was a wild ride, but I am so grateful that I was able to give the best of me to such a purpose. I hope it will continue to inspire generations of young scientists. It is with confidence that I leave VIB in the talented hands of Christine and Jérôme alongside many other excellent colleagues.”