Niels Vander Elst

Niels Vander Elst

Postdoctoral Studies
Visiting address: Solnavägen 9, Biomedicum, kvarter D7, 17165 Solna
Postal address: C4 Neurovetenskap, C4 Forskning Iovino, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • As a seasoned professional in the field of endolysin technology, my primary focus the last years has been on engineering so-called third-generation endolysin variants with the aim of clinical applications in (veterinary) medicine and beyond. My journey in this specialized field has taken me to leading groups in Europe and the USA, where I've had the privilege of contributing to cutting-edge research and innovation. Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Karolinska Institute, where I apply this promising technology for the treatment of pneumococcal meningoencephalitis.

    My work has made its mark in the academic world, with manuscripts consistently published in Q1 journals within the fields of Biotechnology, Pharmacology and Veterinary Medicine. Furthermore, I'm proud to have been recognized for my contributions with multiple personal scholarships and fellowships, including those from the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF), the Research Foundation of Flanders (FWO), the Kronprinsessan Lovisas Förening för Barnasjukvård, and more.

    Endolysins, derived from bacteriophages, thus remain at the heart of my passion and expertise. With a dual PhD in Biotechnology and Veterinary Medicine, I've delved deep into this field, leading to the development of two patents - one provisional and one full patent - further showcasing my commitment to advancing this groundbreaking technology. I'm excited about the possibilities that endolysins hold and look forward to continue to drive innovation in this space.


  • Endolysins, crucial enzymes synthesized by bacteriophages during their lytic cycle, play a pivotal role in hydrolyzing the peptidoglycan layer of bacterial cell walls. In the context of Gram-positive bacteria, these enzymes retain their efficacy when recombinantly produced in the laboratory and applied externally to target pathogens. Given the elevated internal osmotic pressure of Gram-positive bacteria, the hydrolysis of their cell walls induces an osmotic lysis process comparable to a balloon bursting upon needle puncture. This distinctive mode of action renders endolysins highly effective against antimicrobial-resistant strains. Additionally, endolysins exhibit the capability to dismantle biofilms, thereby targeting persister cells.

    While endolysin research commenced approximately two to three decades ago, the primary focus on their engineering has predominantly transpired within the last 15 years. Endolysins, being modular proteins, permit "domain swapping, " leading to the creation of novel variants with an expanded bacteriolytic spectrum. In my PhD, I concentrated on the high-throughput engineering of third-generation endolysin variants, surpassing their conventional functionality. Specifically, my research aimed to engineer endolysin variants capable of intracellular killing against streptococci of veterinary importance.

    My postdoctoral research at the Karolinska Institute revolves around characterizing well-studied pneumococcal endolysins in pertinent cell culture and in vivo models. Additionally, I am engaged in engineering these variants into third-generation forms with a specific focus on enhancing the treatment of pneumococcal meningoencephalitis.



  • Novel fusion proteins with bacteriocidic, anti-neurotoxic and antibiotic synergistic properties to improve pneumococcal meningitis treatment
    Kronprinsessan Lovisas Förening För Barnasjukvård / Stiftelsen Axel Tielmans Minnesfond
    1 November 2023
  • Engineering of chimeric bacteriophage-derived endolysins and selection of staphylolytic and streptolytic candidates for the treatment of Gram-positive mammary gland infections in cows
    Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek
    1 January 2020 - 31 October 2023
  • Bacteriophage-endolysin candidate mastitis therapy
    Belgian American Educational Foundation
    1 January 2019 - 31 December 2019


  • Postdoctoral Studies, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 2023-2025
  • Doctoral Studies, Veterinary and Biosciences, Ghent University, 2020-2023
  • Doctoral Studies, Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), University of Maryland, College Park, 2019-2019

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