Sarah Goddaer








Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy
Ghent University
Ottergemsesteenweg 460
9000 Gent
Tel: 0032 9 264 80 47 (secretary)
Tel: 0032 9 264 80 49 (direct)
Fax: 0032 9 2648189


Sarah Goddaer started a Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences at Ghent University in 2016. In 2021, she obtained her Master Degree in Systems Biology with great distinction. She performed her master thesis under supervision of Prof. Dr. Sarah Gerlo from the Department of Biomolecular Medicine of Ghent University in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Sven Eyckerman from the VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology. There, she studied the possibilities of CRISPR/Cas9 combined with the BioID tool to label and identify the enhanceosome of the IL-6 promoter. In September 2021, she joined the Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy (Ghent University) to start her PhD project, investigating co-encapsulation efficiency of different kinds of RNA in lipid nanoparticles and their delivery efficiency targeting retinal cells. She is guided by her promoter Prof. Dr. Katrien Remaut in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Jo Vandesompele (Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Ghent University).

Research interests

Ophthalmology, nanotechnology, retinal drug delivery, RNA co-encapsulation, light microscopy, qPCR

Summary of Research Project(s)

Several therapies require simultaneous delivery of therapeutic ribonucleic acids, such as co-delivery of mRNA encoding the Cas9 nuclease and small guide RNA for gene editing, multiple mRNA molecules in vaccination strategies, or siRNA together with mRNA for more efficient treatments against certain cancer types. As all nucleic acids must reach the cytosol of the same individual cell, strategies for efficient co-delivery are of high importance. This project investigates the influence of the ribonucleic acid type (mRNA, self-amplifying mRNA and siRNA) on the ability to co-encapsulate into non-viral nanoparticles and whether or not this results in efficient co-delivery to retinal cells. Furthermore, the specific contribution of cellular uptake, endosomal escape, intracellular innate immunity and cytosolic degradation to the eventual co-delivery efficiency is evaluated using barcoded non-viral particles and single-cell cargo sequencing. Finally, co-delivery efficiency will be evaluated in bovine or human retinal explants to determine penetration depth and cellular uptake in these densely packed, 3D cellular structures. Overall, the project will generate fundamental insights on formulation and delivery strategies to successfully translate RNA into effective and safe drugs.