Department

Viroscience

Our mission is to limit the clinical and public outcomes of high-impact virus infections through an integrated field-to-bench-to-bedside research program.

About our department

Our research

About the department of Viroscience

The Department of Viroscience of the Erasmus MC is an international centre of excellence for multidisciplinary, basic, translational and clinical research of viruses and virus infections at the molecular, patient and population level. The unique aspect of the Department of Viroscience is its translational approach, with expertise ranging from basic virology to clinical virology, connecting medical and veterinary health, public health and ecology. By combining these complementary areas of expertise The Department of Viroscience is able to meet today's and tomorrow's societal challenges in diseases caused by common and newly emerging viruses.

Global impact of the department of Viroscience

  • Discovery of the human metapneumovirus MERS CoV, and othersThe identification of camels as the reservoir for MERS CoV
  • Basic insights into how avian in uenza viruses and other zoonoses cause diseases in humans
  • Unravelling how avian influenza viruses can become transmissible for humans
  • Discovery of mechanism of norovirus evolution and its impact on population health
  • Support to WHO as collaborating centre for emerging viral infections
  • And many more

About new emerging viral infections

Viral infections like Ebola, MERS and SARS continue to be among the leading causes of illness and death across the world. They threaten the health of the global population if they are not rapidly detected and contained.They threaten the health of the global population if they are not rapidly detected and contained. Besides known viruses, new viruses continue to emerge due to rapid demographic changes over the past decades, as well as globalization of travel and trade? Zika virus is a recent example. Vaccines may have been developed for known viruses, however ageing of the population, and treatment strategies of persons with complex comorbidities, such as an impaired immune system, have also led to novel challenges in prevention and treatment. Common viral infections may have a severe impact on these patients in terms of morbidity, quality of life and on a community level in health care cost.

The Department of Viroscience is Reference Centre  for:

  1. WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO-CC) – Emerging Viral Infections
  2. WHO National Reference Laboratory Centre - Measles & Rubella
  3. National Reference Centre for Influenza and Emerging Infections in The Netherlands

Reference Centers

The Department of Virology of the Erasmus MC is:

  1. WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO-CC) – Emerging Viral Infections
  2. WHO National Reference Laboratory Centre - Measles & Rubella
  3. National Reference Centre for Influenza and Emerging Infections in The Netherlands 

1. WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO-CC)

Main activity of the Department of Virology (Viroscience) of the Erasmus MC as WHO Collaborating Centre is to support outbreak response operations during outbreaks of Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens coordinated by WHO. Examples of this are the contributions of the department in identifying the cause of SARS and MERS coronavirus, the studies unraveling the role of camels as sources MERS COV, support in investigations of Zika virus in Surinam and Brazil, and the operation of mobile laboratories during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Department of Virology (Viroscience) uses classical and newly developed state-of-the-art technology to identify known or new viral pathogens. This is possible because the Department of Virology has a wide-array of serological and molecular tests to identify known pathogens. Random priming sequencing technology is also available for unknown agents.

During response operations to outbreaks of Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens coordinated by WHO, the Department of Virology will be contacted by WHO to provide onsite laboratory diagnostic support with staff and equipment when possible. The field deployment of lab equipment or staff will be coordinated with WHO and partners involved in control operations. Depending on incriminated pathogen, the Department of Virology will provide lab diagnostic technology to rapidly, safely and accurately diagnose patient and support Surveillance, Case management and research projects.

The Department of Virology also provides technical support to National laboratories by providing (in limited quantities) reagents and diagnostic methods to national reference laboratories.
The Department of Virology (Viroscience) is WHO Collaborating Centre regarding Viral infections on the following terms of reference:

  • To cooperate with WHO in its function of alert and response to outbreaks of Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens of international importance, including outbreaks of Arboviruses, Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers and novel and emerging infectious diseases.
  • Support WHO in the early diagnosis, rapid identification and characterization of high-risk pathogens specimens submitted through WHO, keeping the results confidential, if so required.
  • During response operations to outbreaks of Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens coordinated by WHO, to assist with epidemiological surveys carried out under the responsibility of WHO by providing personnel and/or equipment when possible.
  • During response operations to outbreaks of Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens coordinated by WHO, to provide onsite laboratory diagnostic support with staff and equipment when possible.
  • Provide technical support to the national laboratories involved in epidemiological and laboratory investigations during Emerging Infectious Diseases outbreak responses.
  • To inform WHO of any epidemiological or laboratory finding that would be in conjunction with a risk of transmission of a severe disease of international concern: Arboviruses, Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers and novel and emerging infectious diseases.

2. WHO National Reference Laboratory Centre - Measles & Rubella

The Department of Virology (Viroscience) of the Erasmus MC is accredited as National Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella, as part of the WHO European Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network. This responsibility is shared with the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Center for Infectious Disease research, Diagnostics and Screening. The objective of the laboratory network is to document and verify elimination of measles and rubella from the WHO European Region, based on procedures developed for certification of the global eradication of smallpox and poliomyelitis.

Measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome are preventable through immunization. The diseases are important causes of global morbidity and mortality. All countries in the WHO European Region include highly effective and safe measles and rubella vaccines in their vaccination program. However, due to persistent gaps in immunization coverage outbreaks of measles and rubella continue to occur.

The WHO National Reference Laboratories have two main responsibilities:

  • Case-based laboratory diagnosis of suspected measles and rubella cases, and reporting of confirmed cases to the surveillance system;
  • Genotyping of measles and rubella viruses, and reporting viral sequences to the surveillance systems MeaNS and RubeNS.

All WHO regions have elimination goals for measles and rubella. The criteria for the verification of measles elimination are documentation of the interruption of endemic measles and rubella for a period of more than 36 months in the presence of an adequate surveillance system that can detect import-related cases. This must be supplemented with genotyping data that support the interruption of endemic transmission.

These efforts should eventually lead to the ultimate goal of global eradication of measles and rubella.

3. National Reference Centre for Influenza and Emerging Infections in The Netherlands


The Department of Virology (Viroscience) is National Reference Centre for Influenza and Emerging Infections in the Netherlands.

Research Lines

Research organization

Our research program has two main pillars:

  1. One health (research lines 1, 2, 3)

    As a result of world-wide changes in climate, land use, and animal management, there is an increased risk of zoonotic viruses crossing the species barrier, adapting to the human host, and gaining human-to-human transmissibility, resulting in novel epidemics or pandemics. The main goal of this research pillar is to provide the basic, translational and clinical research needed to develop evidence-based detection, prevention, treatment and intervention strategies against zoonotic viruses with potential to cause epidemics and pandemics.
  2. Personalised health (research lines 4, 5, 6, 7)

    Due to major demographic changes in our population, the group of high-risk patients (elderly, immuno-compromised, patients with complex co-morbidities, prematurely born children) is increasing, resulting in an increased burden of disease due to acute and chronic infections with a range of viruses. The main goal of this pillar is to improve detection, prevention and intervention strategies against such virus infections at the patient level.

Research line 1

Emerging Infectious disease research preparedness and response in a One Health context.

Research line 2:

Emerging disease (immune)pathogenesis, and medical countermeasures.

Research line 3:

Influenza virus ecology, evolution, pathogenesis, and public health impact

Research line 4:

Immunopathogenesis of paramyxoviruses and pneumoviruses

Research line 5:

NeuroImmune Biology of Virus Infections (NIMBUS)

Research line 6:

HIV and HCV

Research line 7: 

Clinical Virology

Viroscience: Clinical Virology

The overall aim of this research line is to improve diagnosis, triaging, monitoring and treatment for an increasing patient population at risk of complications due to a range of co-morbidities

Viroscience: Emerging disease (immune)pathogenesis, and medical countermeasures

The overall objective of this research line is to unravel key pathogenic pathways for selected EID as a basis for future interventions and medical countermeasures.

Viroscience: Emerging Infectious disease research preparedness and response in a One Health context

Overall objective is to reduce impact of emerging infectious diseases through development of risk based-prediction and early warning tools, state-of-the-art reference diagnostics, and rapid research response during outbreaks.

Viroscience: HIV and HCV

The pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of chronic viral infections.

Viroscience: Immunopathogenesis of paramyxoviruses and pneumoviruses

The overall aim of this research line is to understand the interaction of paramyxo- and pneumoviruses and the host in order to identify correlates of disease or protection, understand viral mechanisms of immune evasion, and use these insights to develop intervention strategies.

Viroscience: Influenza virus ecology, evolution, pathogenesis and public health impact

The overall objective of this research line is to reduce the impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza through research on viruses in reservoir hosts, transient hosts, and humans, and to develop mitigation strategies based on surveillance, vaccines and antivirals..

Viroscience: NeuroImmune Biology of Virus Infections (NIMBUS)

The overall aim of this research line is to decrease the impact of virus-induced neurological diseases through detailed knowledge of the complex tripartite interaction between viruses, the human nervous system and the immune system.

Principal Investigators

Projects

  • BARDA 
  • Brains4Viruses
  • CEPI
  • COMPARE
  • CORSURV
  • CRIP
  • DELTA-FLU
  • DUCAMID (NWO Caribbean)
  • ECRAID-plan
  • EFSA NGS Noro
  • EFSA Wild
  • EHVA
  • Epitope Mapping
  • EVAg
  • EVDLabNet
  • FLUCOP
  • INITIATE ETN Marie Curie
  • METASTAVA
  • Mrace, Innovative HIV prevention strategies based on transmission networks in Rotterdam
  • Mrace, Treatment for chronic norovirus infections
  • Nophame, Marie Curie IF
  • NWA-ORC Preparing for vector-borne virus outbreaks in a changing world: a One Health Approach
  • PREPARE
  • RECODID
  • RIVM - ECDC Surveillance
  • RIVM emerging infections
  • RIVM Flu Research
  • SHARP 
  • Simon Stevin
  • Single cell T-cell
  • STW Environmental safety
  • Support Casper
  • VetBioNet
  • Vidi Respiratory Viruses
  • Vidi, Identifying determinants of respiratory virus transmission between mammals
  • ZAPI (IMI )
  • ZIKAlliance
  • ZikaRisk
  • Zoonoses in the night

Notable results

Societal relevance results

  • Discovery of the human metapneumovirus, MERS CoV, and others.
  • The identification of camels as the reservoir for MERS CoV.
  • Basic insights into how avian influenza viruses and other zoonoses cause diseases in humans.
  • Unravelling how avian influenza viruses can become transmissible for humans.
  • Discovery of mechanism of norovirus evolution and its impact on population health.
  • Support to WHO as collaborating centre for emerging viral infections.

Collaboration

ECO Health Alliance - The Department of Virology is closely involved in the Eco Health Alliance. 

NCOH - The Department of Viroscience is one of the founding partners of NCOH, in addition to Utrecht University, Wageningen University & Research Centre, University Medical Center Utrecht and Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam.

NORONET - The Department of Virology of the Erasmus MC is partner of NoroNet., an informal network of scientists working in public health institutes or universities sharing virological, epidemiological and molecular data on the norovirus. 

OVIT Consortium - De OVIT consortium is a Dutch consortium focused on delivering effective solutions in pancreatic cancer; a multidisciplinary team that includes virologists, paediatric oncologists and neurosurgeons from Erasmus MC, LUMC and UMC Utrecht.

RODIN - Regional Rotterdam Infectious Diseases Network

News, events and awards

Our news

 
surveillance and prediction of EIDs.
News | January 17, 2020

15 million for development early detection system for infectious diseases outbreaks

“Our ambition is to revolutionize our ability to detect and analyze outbreaks of emerging disease at a much earlier stage than currently is possible, thus allowing time to respond rapidly to seriously curtail their impact,” says prof Marion Koopmans, head of department of Viroscience at Erasmus MC Rotterdam, and coordinator of the VEO project. The project started January 1st 2020, and will receive funding for 5 years.

diagram a new twenty-first century science
News | November 8, 2019

A new twenty-first century science for effective epidemic response

With rapidly changing ecology, urbanization, climate change, increased travel and fragile public health systems, epidemics will become more frequent, more complex and harder to prevent and contain.

Ruigedwergmuis foto erik korsten
News | February 6, 2020

Dutch bats infected with 2019-nCoV?

Are bats in the Netherlands also infected with 2019-nCoV? Based on genetic research, the # 2019-nCoV is most similar to #coronaviruses found in specimens of a type of horseshoe nose (Rhinolophus affinis) sampled in Yunnan province, #China. This bat species is widely distributed in South and Southeast Asia, but not in Europe.

Coronavirus
News | January 30, 2020

Erasmus MC conducts research on Coronavirus

Virologists from the Virology Department work closely with the WHO. Prof. Marion Koopmans and Dr. Bart Haagmans participate in the WHO virologists group – in which virologists from all over the world are affiliated. The virology department has – if necessary – tests available to determine whether someone has the coronavirus.

camel nieuws marion
News | October 17, 2019

Mini symposium “Zoonotic disease emergence: lessons learned and future directions

Tuesday November 26, 2019 Time: 09:00 - 12.00 Mini symposium "Zoonotic disease emergence: lessons learned and future directions"

In the media

Awards and grants

Recent awards and grants within our department:

  • Prof. Marion Koopmans: NWA-ORC Preparing for vector-borne virus outbreaks in a changing world: a One Health Approach. June 2019. Read all about it.
  • Prof. Marion Koopmans: Marion Koopmans elected as KNAW member. April 2019. Read all about it.
  • Dr. Rory de Vries: Beijerink Virology Prize awarded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. January 2019. Read all about it.
  • Dr. Sander Herfst: The Heine-Medin Award 2018 granted by the European Society of Clinical Virology. October 2018. Read all about it.
  • Prof. Marion Koopmans: NWO Stevin Prize, the highest distinction in Dutch science. September 2018. Read all about it.
  • Prof. Marion Koopmans: honorary doctorate from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). September 2018. Read all about it.
  • Debby van Riel: Vidi-grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Awarded June 2018. Read the NWO press release.
  • Debby van Riel named member of the Young Erasmus Academy by the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. March 2018. Read all about it. (Dutch)
  • My Phan: Marie Curie Individual Fellowship. March 2018. Read all about it.
  • Prof. Guus Rimmelzwaan: Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, the most extensive German grant awarded to scientific research. May 2017. Read our press release. (Dutch)
  • Prof. Ron Fouchier: Huibregtsen Prize for top innovative science with societal impact. October 2013. Read all about it.
  • Prof. Ron Fouchier: named one of the world's 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine. 2012. Read all about it.

Career opportunities

Vacancies

Any questions?

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