Could you please introduce yourself and say something about your research focus?
My name is Victor Klimyuk, I was born in Ukraine and graduated from the University of Kiev with a diploma in Biochemistry. I pursued my professional career abroad for many years, including working at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. For the last nineteen years I am working here in Halle (Saale) at Icon Genetics GmbH as company Director. The company was founded in 1999 and is focusing on developing biopharmaceuticals using a proprietary plant-based manufacturing platform.
What is the significance of your research work in a national and international context?
Since August 2015 Icon Genetics is subsidiary of the Japanese corporation Denka Ltd and our major focus now is to use our plant-based manufacturing platform for the development and production of diagnostic reagents and vaccines. Icon Genetics is currently focusing on the development of a norovirus vaccine, which is a very important product candidate, as such a vaccine is not yet available on the market. Every year we have 700 million cases of norovirus worldwide, 200 million cases are children and there are no preventive vaccines available so far.
Do you focus on the development of an Ebola vaccine as well?
No, not for Ebola. Our colleagues from the USA have used our technology to produce therapeutic antibodies for treating patients infected by the Ebola virus, it is not a vaccine though. Our technology was used for fast production of monoclonal antibody cocktails to treat already infected people.
What are the advantages of working at the Weinberg Campus today?
I think, first of all, the availability of good infrastructure and an excellent professional surrounding, for example to recruit people, is a big advantage. Also, the availability of research institutions in close proximity offers access to research experts and equipment to support internal company projects, if required.
What do you want from a research and personal perspective for the Weinberg Campus?
We are already working with the Weinberg Campus management to explore the possibilities for Icon’s infrastructure expansion here. The final decision will be made by our corporate top management in Tokyo, of course, but we already are looking forward to acquiring a construction site here for our company’s new manufacturing facility. We do have great support not only from the TGZ management but also from the city Halle (Saale) government and Sachsen-Anhalt government. There is nothing to complain about.
Can you think of a funny story that connects you to the Weinberg Campus?
I will not tell you any funny stories, we are serious professionals, but it is great fun to work here.