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Exotic viruses

Exotic viruses


Our research is focused on understanding pathogenesis of exotic and emerging virus infections and development of intervention strategies. In order to develop effective vaccines and diverse therapeutics, we need to understand the pathogenesis, which is an intimate interaction between virus and the host. We study the viral and host factors involved in pathogenesis, such as replication kinetics and correlates of virulence.

The objective is to develop and characterize biologically relevant in vitro and in vivo models and methods to study the virus tropism, host responses and routes of transmission during infection with emerging viruses. In addition, our group studies the host response to infection, including cell death pathways, innate and adaptive immune responses. Understanding the innate and adaptive immune responses to natural and experimental infections are important to elucidate correlates of protection and pathogenesis, which will help in the rational design of new vaccines and the identification of therapeutic targets.

The Exotic viruses workgroup focuses primarily on two categories of viruses; encephalitic and hemorrhagic viruses. Current research lines include, the study of the pathogenesis of orthohantaviruses and the pathogenesis, characterization of the immune response and development of therapeutics against arboviruses, particularly Zika virus.

Ongoing research projects:

  • Orthohantavirus tropism and pathogenesis.
  • Arbovirus pathogenesis
  • Role of antibody dependent enhancement in Flavivirus pathogenesis
  • Characterization of Flavivirus antibody responses 

Current funding:

  • ZikAlliance: A global alliance for Zika virus control and prevention
  • ZikaRisk: Risk of Zika virus introduction for the Netherlands
  • DUCAMID: Dutch Caribbean preparedness for mosquito-borne infectious diseases

Research team: 

Barry Rockx, Ph.D. (Workgroup leader)
Byron Martina, Ph.D.
Gijs van Nierop, Ph.D.
Petra van den Doel, B.Sc.
Melanie van Heteren, B.Sc.
Fatih Anfasa, M.D. (Ph.D. student)
Noreen Mumtaz, B.Sc. (Ph.D. student)

Selection of publications: