- Users of research expertise:
Jean-Claude Dujardin, full professor at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM). He graduated in Zoology (Facultés Notre Dame de la Paix, Namur, Belgium) in 1983. One year later, he acquired the diploma in Tropical Medical Biology at the ITM. In 1986, he joined the ITM where he introduced molecular biology in the discipline of parasitology. From 1990 to 1992 he was a visiting scientist at the Instituto de Medicina Tropical A. von Humboldt (Lima, Peru) and in 1995 he got the degree of Doctor in Science (Zoology) at the Free University of Brussels (Prof R. Hamers) on the significance of karyotype diversity in Leishmania. He is the head of the Unit of Molecular Parasitology at ITM since 2002 and became the head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences (ITM) in 2011. He has also a 10% affiliation (associate professor) in the department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Antwerp and he is visiting lecturer at UNamur.
He is recognized as a Leishmania specialist worldwide, combining basic and translational expertise on that parasite and the group of diseases it causes. Over his whole career, he published 248 papers, corresponding to an h-index of 51 (WoS, 08/06/2021) with 130 papers over the last 10 years (120 A1, 1 A2, 7 letters and 2 pre-prints; h-index 35), out of which 30 in a leading position and another 35 led by staff of his unit. Since 1992, he has coordinated 7 EU-funded multidisciplinary projects; this allowed him to get a broad international network. His recognition in the field is highlighted by 23 invited presentations (out of 147) during the last 10 years at major international conferences. Very active in communication in newspapers and social media (1260 followers on Twitter on 13/08/21 @DujardinBiomed ), he is used to make research accessible to a broad public.
He explored the diversity of Leishmania and leishmaniases for over 25 years, ‘from genomes to eco-systems’. As such, he has the relevant laboratory experience in (i) parasitology and (ii) molecular biology both in the high-tech context of a modern lab and in the working conditions of a laboratory in a tropical context. During his career, he explored in depth and successfully new fields:
- Since 2001, he developed a unique and holistic expertise on parasite contributors to treatment failure, showing that besides the commonly studied drug resistance, other factors were also playing a role like virulence, infection by Leishmania RNA virus and quiescence. He believes that research on drug resistance and quiescence should be integrated in the R&D for innovative anti-leishmania drugs.
- Since 2008, he pioneered research on Leishmania genomics and integrated it in the research line on treatment failure. His group established the first reference genome of L. donovani and recently upgraded it. He led projects in which the complete genome of 300 Leishmania isolates was sequenced in their clinical and epidemiological context. Under his impulsion, his research group became a worldwide recognized leader in phylogenomics and population genomics of Trypanosomatids. He revolutionized Leishmania genomics by directly sequencing parasite genome in host tissues and studying the genome of single cells: this showed (i) that genome of parasites was very different in the patient and in a culture tube and (ii) that the parasite was exploiting mosaicism as a (pre-)adaptive strategy.
- Since 1998, he has been developing molecular tools for diagnostics and epidemiology of leishmaniases. Beyond publishing new methods, he has extensively invested in standardization of the developed tools, quality assurance and dissemination. As a result, many laboratories in the world have adopted the developed methods for genotyping and molecular epidemiology.
On the education side, he has been teaching Parasitology and Protozoology at ITM, since 1995. He also teaches at the Universities of Antwerp and Namur. He is currently director of the Master in Tropical Medicine -orientation Biomedical Sciences- at ITM. Since 2001, he supervised 13 postdocs, 28 PhD students and 34 Master students; as such he contributed significantly to capacity building in the North and in the South.