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dr. Debby van Riel

Debby van Riel - Assistant professor Department of Viroscience


After her PhD Debby started her own research line in which she focuses on extra-respiratory tract complication of influenza, with a specific focus on disease of the central nervous system. In recent years she has shown that influenza viruses can enter the CNS via the olfactory nerve in the ferret model, but also in a human case (Schrauwen 2011, van Riel 2014, van Riel 2015, Siegers 2016). Ongoing research is focusing on viral factors that facilitate influenza virus entry and spread throughout the nervous system, as well as host factors (risk groups for severe influenza). Besides influenza, Debby is also interested how other viruses, such as Zika virus (Anfasa 2017) and enterovirus D68, are able to enter and cause disease of the central nervous system.  Debby van Riel

In recent studies, Debby has shown that severe influenza virus infections are able to cause a systemic pro-inflammatory cytokines response (Short 2017, de Wit 2018). This response most likely contributes to severe influenza, and ongoing research focusses on differences in responses between influenza virus strains, as well as the mechanism behind this systemic response.

Debby has received several grants and fellowships that support her research group, including a Veni and Erasmus MC fellowship. In addition, Debby received the Beijerinck premium (2 yearly award for promising early career scientists within virology research in the Netherlands), the ESWI Award (3-yearly international awards for the most promising body of work in influenza virus research from European Scientific Working group on Influenza) and she is a member of the Young Erasmus Academy.


International collaborators

  • Prof. Dr. Gülsah Gabriel, Heinrich-Pette Institute (HPI) Hamburg, Germany Debby is employed as a guest scientist at the HPI. This collaboration is based on the joint interest in the pathogenesis of influenza  and zika virus infections. This collaboration resulted in several joint publications (Anfasa 2017; Betram 2017; van Riel 2016; Otte 2016 and Siegers 2014)
  • Dr. Kirsty Short, Queensland University, Australia The collaboration with Dr. Short is based on our joint interest in extra-respiratory immune responses during influenza virus infections. This collaboration recently resulted in a joint publication in J Infect Dis  (Short 2017).
  • Dr. Emmie de Wit, RML NIH, Montana US The Collaboration with Dr. de Wit is based on on our joint interest in the pathogenesis of 1918 H1N1 Influenza virus (Spanish flu) with a specific focus on extra-respiratory tract complications.


Key publications (total number of publication: 59; H-index: 24)


Fields of Expertise: Comparative pathology and Pathogenesis

More information about the Field of Expertise: Comparative pathology and Pathogenesis
More information: Publications
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debby-van-riel-52350461/
Twitter: Debby van Riel
Researchgate: Debby van Riel