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prof. dr. Thijs Kuiken DVM PhD DACVP

Fields of Expertise: Comparative pathology and Pathogenesis

Thijs Kuiken

Over the last five years the research of Prof. Kuiken was centred on the pathology and pathogenesis of emerging virus infections in humans, compared to that in their animal reservoirs. In humans, it focused on the pathogenesis of influenza-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as extra-respiratory complications of influenza, such as encephalitis and multiple organ distress syndrome. In animal reservoirs, it focused on clinical, pathological, epidemiological and immunological aspects of influenza in wild waterbirds, mainly ducks and gulls. Besides recently emerged influenza viruses like pandemic H1N1 and avian H5N1, H7N9, and H5N8 viruses, Kuiken also studied various other zoonotic viruses, including MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, NDV, RSV, Ebola virus, and rabies virus.

Kuiken also helped to develop a conceptual framework for pathogen emergence at the interspecies barrier. The proposed framework helps in understanding the common mechanisms behind disease emergence by linking pathogen emergence in humans to distinct and well-defined proximate and ultimate drivers. In this context, Kuiken contributed to a Dutch and Europe-wide network for wildlife disease surveillance that can form a robust counterpart for existing disease surveillance networks in domestic animals and in people, and so create an integrated system for the early detection of emerging infectious diseases in Europe.


Figure 1. Framework for the classification of drivers of human exposure to animal pathogens (interspecies barrier). See text for more details: doi:10.1371.ppat.1004129.9001

Theses supervised by prof.dr. Thijs Kuiken as 'Promotor': 
Joost Philippa, 2007
Jolianne Rijks, 2008
Debby van Riel, 2010
Leslie Reperant, 2010
Judith van den Brand, 2013
Josanne Verhagen, 2016
Edwin Veldhuis-Kroeze 
Jurre Siegers
Marjolein Poen 2019
Lineke Begeman 

Prof. Kuiken taught students in medicine, veterinary medicine, and other relevant disciplines (mainly medical biology) at Ba, MSc, Research Master, and PhD levels. The subjects Prof. Kuiken taught related to emerging viral diseases, and focused on underlying factors for emergence, barriers for emerging pathogens to cross from one host species to another, and comparative pathology and pathogenesis of these diseases in humans and in their animal reservoirs. In particular, prof. Kuiken emphasized the potential for students to make use of pathology-based read-outs in their research, even though they did not have in-depth pathology training, and encouraged a "One Health" perspective, where students from different disciplines, including human medicine and vetererinary medicine, exchanged views and took account of the differences between their respective customs, viewpoints and values.

Patient care: Diagnostic pathology of viral cases
The team of Prof. Kuiken focusing on Comparative Pathology provided back-up service in the Erasmus MC and other medical centres in the Netherlands and abroad on an ad hoc basis for patients suspected of viral infection, as well as providing advice on appropriate sample collection for histopathology and in situ virus detection. In the past five years, the team was also involved in diagnostic evaluation of fatal cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in the U.K., and cases of pulmonary and CNS influenza, Newcastle disease, rabies,and human metapneumovirus infections in the Netherlands.

Part of the Comparative Pathology team meetings included pathology rounds, where the pathology of patient biopsies or autopsy specimens are discussed and compared with similar cases from experimental or natural disease in animals.

Fields of Expertise: Comparative pathology and Pathogenesis
Prof.dr. Thijs Kuiken leads the Field of Expertise Comparative pathology and Pathogenesis at the Department of Viroscience, Erasmus MC.
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