Artemis One Health
My work at Artemis:
I am involved in the ZonMW-funded project EcoAlert, which involves setting up a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points system for early warning of arboviral emergence. This includes identifying the regions, habitats and ecological conditions under which the sampling of vectors, reservoir hosts and end hosts should be targeted, as well as aligning this collection strategy with the critical steps in the infection cycle, which is also partially incorporated in the project COMPARE. At the same time we are also setting up an epitope-blocking ELISA for WNV that can be used for WNV surveillance by screening serum samples of bird populations found in the Netherlands. Furthermore, I am also involved in setting up a protein expression system in the Leishmania tarentolae parasite, which can be used for generating proteins that can be implemented in various immunoassays, such as ELISA, or for vaccine development.
I have recently become involved in a ZonMW-granted project called “TBEV-COMEIN“, which focuses on determining the risk that Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) poses to the Netherlands by determining the presence of the virus in ticks (RNA) and animals (antibodies against the virus) across the Netherlands, as well as identifying high-risk areas for ticks (based on ecological conditions, biodiversity, tick behavior and microclimate). The ultimate goal is to contribute to an “early warning” system for combating this viral disease.
I am primarily interested in the pathogenesis of neurotropic arboviruses, such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Tick-borne encephalitis virus, with in particular the mechanisms employed for neuroinvasion. At the same time I am also interested in studying the interaction of arboviruses (including Dengue and Chikungunya) with their arthropod vector, as well as understanding the emergence and spread of certain arboviruses among vertebrate hosts and within particular ecological niches.
My views on “One Health”
Through my research on West Nile virus (WNV) it became apparent to me that in order to fully understand the emergence and spread of this particular virus it did not suffice to simply look at its virulence in humans (via a mouse model). The fact that WNV is maintained in an enzootic transmission cycle between mosquitoes and birds with humans and horses as dead-end hosts already suggests that eventually it is necessary to look at the entire picture. Therefore, studying the pathogenesis of certain viruses in humans, in combination with a One Health approach where we also study the virus in the context of other relevant vertebrates, invertebrates and the environment will give us valuable information on the emergence and spread of particular viruses, which may eventually guide the implementation of intervention strategies as well.
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