Prof. Félix Sauvage

Félix Sauvage is an associate professor at the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences in Ghent University where he is team leader (Cornea/Vitreous) within the Ocular Delivery Group led by Prof. Katrien Remaut.

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Félix Sauvage was born in Dieppe (France) on the 16th of April 1987. He received his pharmacy degree (Pharm.D) in 2013 at University of Rouen Normandie, France. The same year, he obtained his Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmaceutics at University Paris-Saclay and a fellowship from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. He joined the Institut-Galien Paris-Saclay (University Paris-Saclay, France) for a PhD where he worked on the formulation of liposomes for enhancing the delivery of heat shock protein inhibitors to tumours. In 2017, Félix Sauvage joined the Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy headed by Prof. Stefaan De Smedt at Ghent University as a postdoctoral research scientist with a major focus on nanotechnology and photonics in ophthalmology. Since 2017, the use of pulsed-lasers in combination with light absorbing nanoparticles for the treatment of corneal and vitreous diseases has been his major focus. In 2022, Félix was appointed assistant professor in pharmaceutical technology at Lille University, France. Later the same year, he obtained an ERC starting grant (‘DYE-LIGHT’) to investigate the use of light in combination with dyes for drug delivery and laser-based surgery in the eye at Ghent University in the Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy.

Since 2023, Félix Sauvage is associate professor at the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences in Ghent University where he is team leader (Cornea/Vitreous) within the Ocular Delivery Group led by Prof. Katrien Remaut. He is author of several peer-reviewed scientific publications (in Advanced Materials, Nature Nanotechnology, ACS nano and the Journal of Controlled release) and inventor of several patents. His early-career achievements have been recognized by several organizations. In 2019, he received a young investigator award from the European Association for Vision and Eye Research (EVER). In 2020, Félix received the AMIFAC award of the French Academy of Pharmacy for his work on the use of pulsed-lasers and nanoparticles for the destruction of vitreous opacities.

Ocular Delivery Group

Félix is the leader of Cornea/Vitreous team in the Ocular Delivery Group led by Prof. Katrien Remaut 

Research Topics

The research of the Cornea/Vitreous team focuses on enhancing drug delivery to the ocular surface (i.e. cornea, conjunctiva, limbus) and throughout the vitreous using specific nanocarriers and external stimuli (e.g. light or ultrasounds). Various formulations and particles are investigated and designed for this purpose (LNPs, carbon dots, nanogels…) either for passive or light-assisted drug delivery (e.g. through photoporation; Figure 1).


Figure 1. Concept of photoporation. After irradiation of photosensitizers (e.g.: plasmonic or light-absorbing nanoparticles), they will heat up inducing evaporation of the surrounding water causing the formation of vapor nanobubbles (VNB). Upon implosion of VNBs, small pores are formed in cell membranes allowing direct cytosolic delivery of therapeutic compounds (nucleic acids, proteins…). Our team investigate this concept in cells of the ocular surface (e.g. cornea). Ep= epithelium, S= stroma. Scale bar=20µm.

In parallel, the team also works on light-based techniques to improve laser assisted surgery in the posterior segment. The team is exploring the destruction of vitreous opacities (‘eye floaters’) harnessing the mechanical forces released upon implosion of vapor nanobubbles which are generated upon irradiation of plasmonic (e.g. gold nanoparticles) or light-absorbing nanoparticles and dyes (e.g. indocyanine green; Figure 2). Besides collaboration within Ghent University, the team cooperates with various partners around the world among which the Kellogg Eye Center (Prof. Yannis Paulus; Michigan University, USA), the VMR institute (Dr. J. Sebag; USA) and the University of Lille (Prof. M. Baudoin; France).


Figure 2. Concept of photoablation of vitreous opacities. Vitreous opacities are collagen aggregates which form in the vitreous of the eye. Irradiation of nanoparticles or dyes which bind to vitreous opacities with a pulsed laser causes the formation of vapor nanobubbles (VNB) which mechanically destroy opacities when they implode.

Selected key publications:

  • De Hoon I., Barras A., Swebocki T., Vanmeerhaeghe B., Bogaert B., Muntean C., Abderrahmani A., Boukherroub R., De Smedt S.C., Sauvage F.*, Szunerits S.*, Influence of the Size and Charge of Carbon Quantum Dots on Their Corneal Penetration and Permeation Enhancing Properties, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2023.
  • Sauvage F., Nguyen VP., Li Y., Harizaj A., Sebag J., Roels D., Van Havere V., Peynshaert K., Xiong R., Fraire J.C., Tassignon M-J., Remaut K., Paulus Y., Braeckmans K, De Smedt S.C.*, Laser-induced nanobubbles safely ablate vitreous opacities in vivo, Nature Nanotechnology, 2022.
  • Hua D., Harizaj A., Wels M., Brans T., Stremersch S., De Keersmaecker H., Bolea-Fernandez E., Vanhaecke F., Roels D., Braeckmans K., Xiong R., Huang C., De Smedt S.C., Sauvage F*. Bubble forming films for spatial selective cell killing, Advanced Materials, 2021.
  • Sauvage F., Fraire J. C., Remaut K., Sebag J., Peynshaert K., Harrington M., Van de velde F. J., Xiong R., Tassignon M.-J., Brans T., Braeckmans K., De Smedt S.C., Photoablation of Human Vitreous Opacities by Light-Induced Vapor Nanobubbles, ACS Nano, 2019