Liesbet Lagae began her imec career about 20 years ago. First, she took up the role of team leader in imec’s spintronics group, which focussed on research on spin transfer torque and magnetic biosensors. She then pioneered the research area in which she operates to this day: technologies for life sciences. Moreover, imec’s life science activities were co-founded by Liesbet, and she helped to grow that department into the mature business line it is today. Now, she endeavours bringing innovative chip-based tech projects and strategies to imec and its partners with the goal of creating better life science tools.
Establishing imec’s life sciences department
After having a brief look at Liesbet’s resume, it goes without saying that life sciences are a common thread and passion in her life and work. So, it comes as no surprise that co-founding imec’s LST department is a major highlight for her.
“One of the most important achievements of my career, is starting imec’s life science group. We initially explored a few technologies with PhD students and other collaborators from a very multidisciplinary background, from biology to physics. It was a highlight to slowly figure out what these technologies could mean for health, life science, and patients.”
Meaning something to patients
Liesbet cares about creating chips for life sciences and health. In fact, it’s especially important for her to mean something for the patients she’s doing research for. “I’m passionate about meaning something to cancer patients, and about trying to save lives from this very deadly disease. At imec, we’ve got so many technologies that can mean something for early diagnostics, but also for better treatments.”
An example of those technologies is the cell sorter technology. Liesbet received an ERC grant for that research, which aims to find cancer cells in blood, and simultaneously sorts T cells that may help treat cancer patients.
Connecting with the different departments at imec
Developing such technologies can hardly be done by the LST department itself. Collaboration between teams is key. “As an imec fellow, I hope to reach out to other departments,” Liesbet affirms. “At imec, we’ve got so many research skills that can mean something for health. To reach our full potential and to discover the right application, we need to work together.”
A message to junior researchers
Liesbet is convinced that building confidence is a key characteristic for aspiring researchers. “I would like to say you should believe in yourself. You can make incredible things happen by working just a little bit harder, day by day. Next, and the following goes especially for young female researchers, is that having confidence is very important. Believe in yourself and in your female power.”
Ready to set off on your own imec journey?
Liesbet Lagae is co-founder and program director of imec’s life science technologies (LST). She paves the way towards the next generation of advanced research tools that help to take huge leaps in life science tech. Think of single cell tools, innovative therapeutic devices, DNA sequencers, and more exciting projects. In sum, imec fellow Liesbet directs the research & development activities for imec’s health business line.
- Life sciences and health
- DNA sequencing
- Single cell tools
- Holds an ERC Consolidator grant
- Has (co-)authored more than 165 peer-reviewed papers in international journals
- Holds 25 patents to date
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29 September 2023