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Peter Tompa new director VIB Structural Biology Department at Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The VIB Structural Biology Department at Vrije Universiteit Brussel has a new director, Peter Tompa, who is taking over from Lode Wyns. Peter Tompa, who originates from Hungary, is a top international scientist. His work on the entropy of proteins challenges a central dogma in biology.

Battle for scientific talent
Universities and scientific institutes across the world are vying continuously for scientific talent – a situation similar to transfers in the field of sport. The reasons for this are obvious. The financing of scientific research (basic finance, bursaries, prizes) is increasingly being linked to scientific performance (publications, patents, cooperation).

Who is Peter Tompa?
Peter Tompa has built up an impressive international career. He worked for, amongst others, the Institute of Enzymology (Hungary), The Weissman Institute (Israel), ECUST University (China), Tokyo University (Japan), St. Jude Children’s Hospital (US) and Universidad Autonoma (Spain). With his work on intrinsically disordered proteins Tompa has destroyed a biological dogma. Until about five years ago it was generally accepted that the function of a protein was defined by its structure. However, this appears to be only partly correct. In a good third of all proteins it is the absence of a structure that is crucial for its operation. These intrinsically disordered proteins appear to be highly flexible and act in the cell as a kind of hinge, folding key, gripper arm…