Boris Turk

    • 1996                PhD in Medical and Physiological Chemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
    • 1993                PhD in Chemistry, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 1991                MSc in Biochemistry, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 1988                BSc in Chemistry University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 2011 – Present Prof. of Biochemistry at Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (part time)
    • 2007 – Present Head of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular and Structural Biology at Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia and Scientific Councilor (from 2008);
PREVIOUS POSITIONS (see also below under Fellowships)
    • 2011 – 2017     Principal Investigator at Center of Excellence for Integrated Approaches in Chemistry and Biology of Proteins, Ljubljana, Slovenia (part time)
    • 2011 –             Prof. of Biochemistry at Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (part time)
    • 2001 – 2008    Senior scientist at Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana
    • 1998 – 2006    Head of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 1997 – 2001     Research associate at Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 1994 – 1996    Postdoc at The Biomedical Center, Uppsala, Sweden (2.5 years)
    • 1988 – 1996     Research assistant at Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
FELLOWSHIPS AND AWARDS (only more important awards are listed)
    • 2014 Lapajne award for outstanding achievements in the field of biochemistry of proteases  (Slovene Biochemical Society)
    • 2013 elected Member of Academia Europea (London)
    • 2011 Zois award for outstanding achievements in science in the field of signal transduction by proteases (Republic of Slovenia)
    • 2007elected EMBO member
    • 2006 Human Frontier Science Program grant award
    • 2001 Zois amendment for important scientific achievements in the field of biochemistry of lysosomal proteases (Republic of Slovenia)
    • 2000 Visiting scientist at ICGEB, Trieste, Italy (3 months; EMBO short-term Fellowship)
    • 1998 Visiting Prof. at The Burnham Institute, La Jolla, USA, (2-month Ingelheim Boehringer Fellowship)
    • 1997 Boehringer Ingelheim ProNatura Young Investigator Award
    • 1996 Fellowship of the Wenner-Gren Foundation (Uppsala, Sweden; 6 months)
    • 1994 – 1995 Post-doctoral long-term FEBS Fellowship, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden (2 years); also awarded long-term EMBO Fellowship, but declined
    • 1992 – 1993 INSERM Fellowship, Universite Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg (3 months)
    • 1999 – 2018 17 Postdocs / 15 PhD (completed) and 4 in progress / > 20 MSc students
    • 2011 –             Prof. of Biochemistry at Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 2006 – 2011     Associate Prof. at Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 2006 –             Assoc. Prof. and Prof. at International Postgraduate School Jozef Stefan, Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • 2014 –             Molecular and Cellular Oncology (Associate Editor since 2014)
    • 2013 –             Cell Death & Disease (Editorial Board Member)
    • 2011 –             Frontiers in Molecular and Cellular Oncology (Editorial board member)
    • 2007 –             The Open Medicinal Chemistry Journal. (Editorial board member).
    • 2007                Current Pharmaceutical Design (guest executive editor one issue on proteases)
    • 2003 –             Biological Chemistry (Editorial board member 2003-2008; Executive Editor since 2008)
    • 2021                Member of EMBO Fellowship Committee
    • 2020                Member of Evaluation panel of “Severo Ochoa/María de Maeztu” call for centers of Excellence, Spain
    • 2019 –             Member of the Council for Science and Technology, Republic of Slovenia
    • 2017 –             EMBC Vice President (International Organization)
    • 2017 –             Member of FEBS Publication Committee (International Organization)
    • 2015 –             Member of Strategic working party at EMBC (International Organization)
    • 2014                Member of Evaluation panel of “Severo Ochoa/María de Maeztu” call for centers of Excellence, Spain
    • 2011 –             Member of Scientific Research Council for the field of Natural Sciences at Slovene Research Agency (Slovenia
    • 2010 –                         Representative of Republic of Slovenia at EMBC
    • 2006 – 2015    Member of IUBMB Symposia Committee
    • 2011 – 2013     President of International Proteolysis Society
    • 2009 – 2011    Councilor of International Proteolysis Society and Secretary
    • 2008                Secretary General of ECDO
    • 2005                member of ECDO (European Cell Death Organization) Board of Directors
    • 2001 – 2005    Councilor of International Proteolysis Society

I am also a member of Slovene Biochemical Society (member of Awards Committee, in past also of Honorary Court of Arbitration and Board of Control), EMBO Fellows Network, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Involved in more than 50 meeting organization since 2000 either as main organizer or member of scientific and/or organizing committee, including FEBS Workshop on Proteases, Inhibitors and Physiological Control in 2018 (Main organizer), FEBS 2021 meeting in Ljubljana (member of the Programme committee), several EMBO Workshops (Main organizer of e.g. EMBO Workshop on Mitochondria, Apoptosis, Cancer 2017 in Bled, Slovenia), ECDO Conferences (Main organizer of the 2007 ECDO Conference in Portorož, Slovenia), several symposia on Protease Inhibitors and their Biological Control (2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008), Winter schools on Proteases (annually since 2005), B-debate meeting, Slovene Biochemical Society meetings, …


Invited speaker at more than 100 events, including several FEBS meetings, FEBS Advanced Lecture Courses, EMBO Workshops, Gordon Research Conferences, International Proteolysis Society meetings, ECDO conferences, and many others

Ten years track-record

I am one of the world leaders in protease research, especially in the cysteine cathepsins area where I have over 30 years of experience. In the last 10 years, I have pioneered protease-based targeted drug delivery, thereby changing the paradigm that proteases are only useful as drug targets. In addition, I have pioneered several different approaches in protease cancer imaging by small molecule-based NIRF as well as DARPins, which was the first ever by an AB-like molecule. I was also the first to demonstrate that it is possible to use even endogenous cathepsin inhibitors for imaging cathepsins in cancer. I was coordinator of one of the first EU FP projects dedicated to protease imaging in disease (FP6 Livimode, 2009-2013), which established several novel principles in NIRF imaging of proteases. The first was the reverse-design principle based on turning a med-chem optimized protease inhibitor into an imaging agent, whereas the second was applying the principle of small molecule protease NIRF substrate conjugation to a lipid or a polymer to improve body retention for improved imaging. In total, I have published around 200 original or review articles and book chapters, which have been cited over 19500-times in Web of Science (over 24000-times in Google Scholar). My H-index is 60 in Web of Science (65 in Google Scholar). Among these, were invitations for numerous review papers in prestigious journals (e.g. Nat Rev Drug Disc (in 2006), Ageing Res Rev, Trends Pharmacol Sci, Trends Biochem Sci, EMBO J, Matrix Biol., etc.).

Ten selected publications from 2010 – 2021 (from around 200; total citations >19500 WoS, H-index 60)

Mikhaylov, G. Mikac, U., Magaeva, A.A., Itin, V.I., Naiden, E.P., Psakhye, I., Babes, L., Reinheckel, T., Peters, C., Zeiser, R., Bogyo, M., Turk, V., Psakhye, S.G., Turk, B.*, Vasiljeva, O.* (2011) Nanosized ferri-liposomes: a novel MRI-visible drug delivery system for targeting tumours and their microenvironment, Nature Nanotech. 6, 594-602. (*shared last authorship). IF 2011: 27.27; (cited 280)

Hu HY**, Vats D**, Vizovisek M**, Kramer L, Germanier C, Wendt KU, Rudin M, Turk B, * Plettenburg O,* Schultz C* (2014) In vivo imaging of mouse tumors by a lipidated cathepsin S substrate. Angew. Chem. Intl. Ed. 53, 7669-7673 (shared last* and first** authors) IF 2014: 11.261; (cited 39)

Mikhaylov G, Klimpel D, Schaschke N, Mikac U, Vizovisek M, Fonovic M, Turk V, Turk B*, Vasiljeva O* (2014) Selective targeting of tumor and stromal cells by lipidated cathepsin B inhibitor-based drug delivery system. Angew. Chem. Intl. Ed. 53, 10077-10081 (*shared last authors) IF 2014: 11.261; (cited 40)

Repnik U, Starr AE, Overall CM, Turk B. (2015) Cysteine cathepsins activate ELR chemokines and inactivate non-ELR chemokines. J. Biol. Chem. 290, 13800-13811. IF 2015: 4.258; (cited 36)

Sobotic B, Vizovisek M, Vidmar R, Van Damme P, Gocheva V, Joyce JA, Gevaert K, Turk V, Turk B*, Fonovic M*. (2015) Proteomic identification of cysteine cathepsin substrates shed from the surface of cancer cells. Mol Cell Proteomics. 14, 2213-2228. (*shared last authors) IF 2015: 5.912 (cited 44)

Vidmar R, Vizovisek M, Turk D, Turk B*, Fonovic M* (2017) Protease cleavage site fingerprinting by label-free in-gel degradomics reveals pH-dependent specificity switch of legumain. EMBO J. 36: 2455-2465. (*shared last authors) IF 2017: 10.557; (cited 22)

Kramer L, Renko M, Završnik J, Turk D, Seeger MA, Vasiljeva O, Grütter GG, Turk V, Turk B (2017) Non-invasive in vivo imaging of tumour-associated cathepsin B by a highly selective inhibitory DARPin. Theranostics, 7: 2806-2821. IF 2017: 8.537; Commentary in Theranostics (cited 22)

Kramer L, Turk D, Turk B (2017) The future of cysteine cathepsins in disease management. Trends Pharmacol Sci, 38:873-898.

Vizovisek M, Vidmar R, Drag M, Fonovic M, Salvesen M, Turk B (2018) Protease specificity: towards in vivo imaging applications and biomarker discovery., Trends Biochem Sci. 43, 829-844. IF 2017: 15.678; (cited 12)

Vizovisek M, Fonovic M, Turk B (2019) Cysteine cathepsins in extracellular matrix remodeling: Extracellular matrix degradation and beyond. Matrix Biol. 75-76:141-159.

Granted international patents

Vasiljeva O, Mikhaylov G, Turk B, Schaschke N Cathepsin-binding compounds bound to a carrier and their diagnostic use. US9827337 (B2), 28/11/2017 (European patent was also granted for essentially the same application on 18/03/2018; EP 2723387)

Psakhie SG, Lerner MI, Glazkova EA, Bakina OV, Vasiljeva O, Mikhaylov GA, Turk B. Low-dimensional structures of organic and/or inorganic substances and use thereof. US 10105318.  23/10/ 2018

Psakhie, SG, Itin, VI, Magajeva DA, Terehova OG, Najden EP, Vasiljeva O, Mikhaylov GA, Mikac U, Turk B. Kontrastnoe sredstvo dlja T1 i/ili T2 magnitno-rezonansnogo skanirovanija i sposoʼ ego polučenija: RU2471502 (C1), 2013-01-10: Rospatent 2011132913/15.

Research support (selected):
Domestic projects:


    • 1.1.2014-31.12.2021 P1-0140 Proteolysis and its regulation (B. Turk PI)
    • 1.7.2019―30.6.2022 J1-1710 Role of cysteine cathepsins in complement activation in cancer (B. Turk PI)
    • 1.10.2019―30.9.2022 N1-0127 Cathepsin-based non-invasive diagnostics of cancer (B. Turk PI)
    • 1.10.2019―30.9.2022 N1-0126 How Gram-positive pathogens impair E-cadherin functions (B. Turk PI, Slovene-Austrian bilateral project, FWF leading Agency, S. Wessler, PI).


    • 1.1.2009-31.12.2014 P1-0140 Proteolysis and its regulation (4.2 mio EUR)
    • 1.7.2014―30.6.2017 J1-6739 Role of cysteine cathepsins in inflammation-associated diseases(B Turk PI
    • 1.1. 2014 – 31.12. 2017 N1―0022 Proteases in inflammation and cell death (Slovene-FWO, Belgium project; B. Turk, P. Vandenabeele, K. Gevaert, PIs)
    • 1.5.2010-30.4. 2013 J1-3602 The role of lysosomes and lysosomal proteases in cellular signaling (300.000 EUR)
    • 1.2.2008-31.1.2011 J1-0711 Role of cysteine cathepsins in the regulation of cell proliferation and cell death (150 000 EUR)
    • 1.1.2007-31.12.2009 J1-9359 The effect of citrullination of extracellular matrix proteins to degradation by cysteine and metalloproteases in arthritic joints
    • 1.1.2006-31.12.2007 Z1-7015 Role of cysteine cathepsins as immunomodulators in rheumatoid arthritis
    • 1.2.2004 – 30.1.2007: J1-6488 Role of cysteine proteases in inflammation
International projects:


    • 1.4. 2012 – 31.3. 2015 FP7 project ALEXANDER (B. Turk co-PI,)
    • 1.11. 2009 – 30.4. 2013  FP7 project LIVIMODE (B. Turk coordinator, IJS share cca 750 000 EUR, total budget 4.95 mio EUR)
    • 1.4. 2008 – 31.3. 2012  FP7 project MICROENVIMET (B. Turk, co-PI; IJS share ~243 000 EUR; total budget ~ 3 mio EUR)
    • 1.10.2006 – 30.3. 2010 HFSP (Human Frontiers Science Program) “Intracellular protease signaling induced by homopolymeric amino acid (HPAA) tracts” (B. Turk co-PI, IJS share 337 500 USD; total budget 1.35 mio USD) RGP0024/2006-C
    • 1.1.2006 – 30.6. 2009 FP6 STREP Chemical Genomics by Activity Measurements of Proteases (CAMP), LSHG-CT-2006-018830, (B. Turk, co-PI; IJS share 396 000 EUR, total budget ~2.7 mio EUR))
    • FP6 NANOSAFE 2, Safe Production and Use of Nanomaterials, NMP2-CT-2005-515843 (B. Turk, partner)
    • 1.1. 2004 -31.12. 2005  BI-ES/04-05-013 Bilateral project with the Kingdom of Spain:  Identification of the protease interaction network by proteomics. Partner: prof. dr. Francesc Xavier Aviles, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
    • 1.1. 2003-31.12. 2005 ICGEB CRP/SLO02-01 Role of PDZ domain proteins from MAGUK family in cell-cell detachment during apoptosis (45 000 USD)
    • 1.3.1999-28.2.2001: SLO-US 0023: Project of Scientific and Technological Collaboration with USA: “Role of proteases and their inhibitors in apoptosis.” Partner: Guy S. Salvesen, The Burnham Institute (20 000 EUR).
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