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Research group/lab  |  Georges M.G.M. Verjans, MSc PhD


The aim of the Herpesvirus Lab is to elucidate the virus-host interactions involved in the immune control and pathogenesis of herpesvirus infections in humans

About our research group/lab


The HerpeslabNL aims to elucidate the virus and host factors involved in the immune control and pathogenesis of the human neurotropic herpes simplex viruses (HSV) and varicella zoster virus (VZV) in their natural host.

A hallmark of these herpesviruses is their ability to establish a lifelong latent infection after primary infection of neurons in sensory ganglia (HSV) or along the entire neuraxis (VZV). Reactivation of latent virus, which occasionally leads to recrudescent disease, is controlled by innate and adaptive immunity. Virus-specific immune responses are commonly beneficial (control of latent infection in sensory neurons), but can also cause detrimental disease affecting the eye (uveitis and keratitis) or the brain (encephalitis and potentially Alzheimer’s disease). The HerpeslabNL has developed a unique infrastructure to acquire human clinical specimens in combination with state-of-the-art methodologies to characterize the virus status (genome, proteome and transcriptome), the virus’ cell tropism, and the innate and adaptive cell types present at the site of infection including their antigen-specificity and effector functions. This enables the identification of the key host and virus factors that determine the clinical outcome of alpha-herpesvirus infections and disease.

The ultimate goal of our research is to develop novel intervention strategies aimed to prevent virus reactivation and herpesvirus-induced pathogenesis.

Team, alumni, and dissertations

Current team:

Fulya Koc
Amber Schotting
Undergraduate student
Email: a.schotting@erasmusmc.nl
Fulya Koc
Undergraduate student
Email: f.koc@erasmusmc.nl
Mafalda Cabana  Jochem Weekers
Mafalda Guerreiro Cabana 
Undergraduate student
Jochem Weekers
Undergraduate student

 Teun van der Klugt
José Afonso Guerra-Assunção

Teun van der Klugt
Graduate student
Email: t.klugt@erasmusmc.nl

Photo Seyar Rashidi

Ahmad Seyar Rashidi
Graduate student
Email: a.rashidi@erasmusmc.nl
Diana N. Tran
Graduate student
Email d.tran@erasmusmc.nl
Lex Havelaar  Mark Power 
Lex Havelaar 
Graduate student
Email: a.havelaar@erasmusmc.nl
Mark Power 
Graduate student
Email: m.power@erasmusmc.nl
Anaïs Wiech  Sem van 't Geloof 
Anaïs M.T.Y. Wiech
Graduate student
Email: a.wiech@erasmusmc.nl 
Sem M. van ‘t Geloof 
Email: s.vantgeloof@erasmusmc.nl

 Photo Fatiha Zaaraoui Boutahar

 Photo Tamana Mehraban

Fatiha Zaaraoui-Boutahar
Email: f.zaaraoui@erasmusmc.nl
Tamana Khemai-Mehraba
Email: t.mehraban@erasmusmc.nl

 Werner Ouwendijk

Werner J.D. Ouwendijk
Assistant professor
Link to thesis W.J.D. Ouwendijk (2013)

Michiel van Gent
Assistant professor
Email: m.vangent@erasmusmc.nl
Photo Maaike

Photo Georges Verjans

Maaike Moelker-Hang
Project Manager - Grant Advisor
Email: m.moelker@erasmusmc.nl
Georges M.G.M. Verjans
Associate professor (PI)


Post-doctoral fellows
 Current position
Gulce Sari  2022-2023  Post-doc at Dept Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Erasmus MC)
Peter-Paul Unger
2019 – 2021
Scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific (Leiden, Netherlands)
Eveline D. de Geus
2014 – 2015
Post-doc at Hudson Institute of Medical Research (Melbourne, Australia)


Graduate students  Current position
Shirley Braspenning 2017 - 2020 

Post-doc at NYU Langone Health (New York, USA)
Link to thesis S. Braspenning (2022)

Gijs P. van Nierop
2010 – 2018

Post-doc at Erasmus MC (Rotterdam, Netherlands) 
Link to thesis G.P. van Nierop (2018)
Erik Schaftenaar
2012 – 2016 

Microbiologist at St. Antonius hospital (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Link to thesis E. Schaftenaar (2016)
Monique van Velzen
2008 – 2013

Assistant professor at LUMC (Leiden, Netherlands)
Link to thesis M. van Velzen (2013)
Rui Duan
2004 – 2009

Scientist at Kite Pharma (Den Haag, Netherlands)
Link to thesis R. Duan (2009)

Jeroen Maertzdorf
1998 – 2002

Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology (Berlin, Germany)
Link to thesis J. Maertzdorf (2002)
Lies Remeijer
1997 – 2002

Chief ophthalmologist (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Link to thesis L. Remeijer (2002)



Ongoing projects’ & ‘Completed projects


Impact of virus infections on the development of Alzheimer’s disease
Project Aims: To define the association between virus infection and risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Team: Werner Ouwendijk
Funding: Dutch Research Council (NWO: OCENW.XS22.3.025)

Awakening of a sleeping virus: chromatin control of varicella-zoster virus latency and reactivation.
Project Aims: To determine how chromatin modifications affect VZV latency and reactivation.
Team: Team: Anaïs Wiech & Werner Ouwendijk
International collaboration: Tomohiko Sadaoka (Kobe University, Kobe, Japan) & Daniel P. Depledge (Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany)
Funding: Dutch Research Council (NWO: OCENW.M.22.052)

Intrinsic control of neurotropic herpesvirus infection
Project Aims: Characterization of (1) human cell-intrinsic control mechanisms that restrict neurotropic herpesvirus infection as well as (2) viral evasion mechanisms that counteract intrinsic host responses
Team: Michiel van Gent
Collaboration: Not applicable\
Funding: MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship & Dutch Research Council (NWO) Vidi 

Large Scale T Cell Epitope Discovery: Local and Systemic T-cell Response to Herpes Simplex Virus
Project Aims:
To characterize the phenotype, functional characteristics and fine antigen specificity of virus-specific T-cells in HSV-1 infected human corneas and trigeminal ganglia.
Team: Michiel van Gent & Georges M.G.M. Verjans
International collaboration: David M. Koelle (University of Washington, Seattle WA)
Funding: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (75N93019C00063-0-9999-1)

Role of VZV latency transcript (VLT) and ORF63 in latency and reactivation

Project Aims: To determine the role of VLT and ORF63 in latency establishment/ maintenance/ reactivation in human neurons ex vivo, in situ and in vitro.
Team: Lex Havelaar,Shirley E. Braspenning, Werner J.D. Ouwendijk & Georges M.G.M. Verjans
International collaboration: Paul (Kip) R. Kinchington (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA)
Funding: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (R01-AI151290-01A1)

Cell death in the central nervous system: mechanisms and impact on disease pathogenesis.

Project Aims: To identify the types of cell death that occur in diseases in the CNS, identify the molecular mechanisms involved, and decipher the impact on pathology.
Team: Ahmad Seyar Rashidi & Georges M.G.M. Verjans
International collaboration: Søren R. Paludan (Aarhus University Aarhus, Denmark)
Funding: Lundbeckfonden (R276-2018-192)

 Completed projects

Cutaneous Pathogen-Specific Tissue Resident Memory T Cells in Human Aging

Project Aims: To determine the role of HSV-1 reactive T-cells in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease.
Team: Michiel van Gent, Peter-Paul Unger & Georges M.G.M. Verjans
International collaboration: David M. Koelle (University of Washington, Seattle WA)
Funding: National Institute of Aging (R01-AG064800-02S1)
Human organotypic brain slice model: a novel platform to study virus-induced neuropathology

Project Aims: To determine the virus tropism and pathogenesis of neurotropic viruses using the human ex-vivo brain slice culture platform to be developed.
Team: Diana N. Tran & Georges M.G.M. Verjans
International collaboration: not applicable
Funding: Erasmus MC: Human Disease Model Award
Single cell analysis of T-cell receptors and transcriptome in tissue of multiple sclerosis patients

Project Aims: To determine the fine antigen specificity, function and spatial orientation of dominant CD8 T-cells in brain lesions of multiple sclerosis patients.
Team: Peter-Paul Unger & Georges M.G.M. Verjans
International collaboration:Stephen J. Elledge (Harvard Medical School, Boston MA) & Roland Martin (University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland)
Funding: Dutch MS Research Foundation (17-995 MS)



Herpes simplex virus infection induces necroptosis of neurons and astrocytes in human fetal organotypic brain slice cultures.
Rashidi AS, Tran DN, Peelen CRvan Gent M, Ouwendijk WJD, Verjans GMGM. J Neuroinflammation. 2024;21:38. doi: 10.1186/s12974-024-03027-5.

Whole exome sequencing of patients with varicella-zoster virus and herpes simplex virus induced acute retinal necrosis reveals rare disease- associated genetic variants. 
Heinz JL, Swagemakers SMA, von Hofsten J, Helleberg M, Thomsen MM, De Keukeleere K, de Boer JH, Ilginis T, Verjans GMGM, van Hagen PM, van der Spek PJ, Mogensen TH.  
Front Mol Neurosci. 2023;16:1253040. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2023.1253040


Virus-specific TRM cells of both donor and recipient origin reside in human kidney transplants. 
Hullegie-Peelen DM, Tejeda Mora H, Hesselink DA, Bindels EM, van den Bosch TPP, Clahsen-van Groningen MC, Dieterich M, Heidt S, Minnee RC, Verjans GMGM, Hoogduijn MJ, Baan CC.  JCI Insight. 2023 Sep 26:e172681. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.172681.

ER stress induces caspase-2-tBID-GSDME-dependent cell death in neurons lytically infected with herpes simplex virus type 2.
Ren F, Narita R, Rashidi AS, Fruhwürth S, Gao Z, Bak RO, Thomsen MK, Verjans GMGM, Reinert LS, Paludan SR.  EMBO J. 2023 Aug 30:e113118. doi: 10.15252/embj.2022113118.

Current perspectives on the management of herpesvirus infections in solid organ transplant recipients.
Malahe SRK, van Kampen JJA, Manintveld OC, Hoek RAS, den Hoed CM, Baan CC, Kho MML, Verjans GMGM. Viruses. 2023;15:1595. doi: 10.3390/v15071595.

Varicella-zoster virus proteome-wide T-cell screening demonstrates low prevalence of virus-specific CD8 T-cells in latently infected human trigeminal ganglia.
van Gent M, Ouwendijk WJD, Campbell VL, Laing KJ, Koelle DM, Verjans GMGM.  J Neuroinflammation 20, 141 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12974-023-02820-y

Selective retention of virus-specific tissue-resident T cells in healed skin after recovery from herpes zoster. Laing KJ, Ouwendijk WJD, Campbell VL, McClurkan CL, Mortazavi S, Waters ME, Krist MP, Tu R, Nguyen N, Basu K, Miao C, Schmid DS, Johnston C, Verjans GMGM, Koelle DM.  Nature  Communications. 2022 Nov 15. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34698-4

T-cells in human trigeminal ganglia express canonical tissue-resident memory T-cell markers. Unger PPA, Oja AE, Khemai-Mehraban T, Ouwendijk WJ, Hombrink P, Verjans GMGM.  J Neuroinflammation. 2022 Oct 06. doi: 10.1186/s12974-022-02611-x

Microglia activate early anti-viral responses upon HSV-1 entry into the brain to counteract development of encephalitis-like disease in mice.
Katzilieris-Petras G, Lai X, Rashidi ASVerjans GM, Reinert LS & Paludan SR. J Virol. 2022 Jan 19doi: 10.1128/JVI.01311-21.

No evidence of aberrant amyloid β and phosphorylated tau expression in herpes simplex virus-infected neurons of the trigeminal ganglia and brain.
Tran DN, Bakx AT, van Dis V, Aronica E, Verdijk RM & Ouwendijk WJ. Brain Pathol. 2021 Dec 16. doi: 10.1111/bpa.13044.
Mutagenesis of the varicella-zoster virus genome demonstrates that VLT and VLT-ORF63 proteins are dispensable for lytic infection.
Braspenning SE, Lebbink RJ, Depledge DP, Schapendonk CME, Anderson LA, Verjans GM, Sadaoka T** & Ouwendijk WJ**. Viruses. 2021 Nov 16. doi: 10.3390/v13112289.
The architecture of the simian varicella virus transcriptome.
Braspenning SE, Verjans GM, Mehraban T, Messaoudi I, Depledge DP** & Ouwendijk WJ**. PLoS Pathog. 2021 Nov 22. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1010084.
Generation of hiPSC-derived low threshold mechanoreceptors containing axonal termini resembling bulbous sensory nerve endings and expressing Piezo1 and Piezo2.
Zhu S, Stanslowsky N, Fernández-Trillo J, Mamo TM, Yu P, Kalmbach N, Ritter B, Eggenschwiler R, Ouwendijk WJ, Mzinza D, Tan L, Leffler A, Spohn M, Brown RJP, Kropp KA, Kaever V, Ha TC, Narayanan P, Grundhoff A, Förster R, Schambach A, Verjans GM, Schmidt M, Kispert A, Cantz T, Gomis A, Wegner F & Viejo-Borbolla A. Stem Cell Res. 2021 Oct 21. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2021.102535.
Local immune control of latent herpes simplex virus type 1 in ganglia of mice and man.
St Leger AJ, Koelle DM, Kinchington PR & Verjans GM. Front Immunol. 2021 Sep 15. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.723809
Cluster of symptomatic graft-to-host transmission of herpes simplex virus type 1 in an endothelial keratoplasty setting.
Guerra-Assunção JA*, van Kampen JJ*, Roy S, Remeijer L, Breuer J & Verjans GM. Ophthalmol Science. 2021 Aug 11. DOI: 10.1016/j.xops.2021.100051
Comparable infection level and tropism of measles virus and canine distemper virus in organotypic brain slice cultures obtained from natural host species.
Laksono BM*, Tran DN*, Kondova I, van Engelen HGH, Michels S, Nambulli S, de Vries RD, Duprex WP, Verjans GM & de Swart RL. Viruses. 2021 Aug 10. doi: 10.3390/v13081582.
High levels of neutrophil extracellular traps persist in the lower respiratory tract of critically ill patients with coronavirus disease.
Ouwendijk WJ, Raadsen MP, van Kampen JJ, Verdijk RM, von der Thusen JH, Guo L, Hoek RA, van den Akker JP, Endeman H, Langerak T, Molenkamp R, Gommers D, Koopmans MP, van Gorp EC, Verjans GM & Haagmans BL. J Infect Dis. 2021 May 20. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiab050.
Varicella-zoster virus VLT-ORF63 fusion transcript induces broad viral gene expression during reactivation from neuronal latency.
Ouwendijk WJ*, Depledge DP*, Rajbhandari L, Lenac Rovis T, Jonjic S, Breuer J, Venkatesan A, Verjans GM & Sadaoka T. Nat Commun. 2020 Dec 10. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20031-4.

An organoid-derived bronchioalveolar model for SARS-CoV-2 infection of human alveolar type II-like cells.
Lamers MM, van der Vaart J, Knoops K, Riesebosch S, Breugem TI, Mykytyn AZ, Beumer J, Schipper D, Bezstarosti K, Koopman CD, Groen N, Ravelli RBG, Duimel HQ, Demmers JA, Verjans GM, Koopmans MP, Muraro MJ, Peters PJ, Clevers H & Haagmans BL. EMBO J. 2021 Mar 1. doi: 10.15252/embj.2020105912.

Decoding the architecture of the varicella-zoster virus transcriptome.
Braspenning SE, Sadaoka T, Breuer J, Verjans GM, Ouwendijk WJ** & Depledge DP**. mBio. 2020 Oct 6. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01568-20.
Alveolar barrier disruption in varicella pneumonia is associated with neutrophil extracellular trap formation.
Ouwendijk WJ, van den Ham HJ, Delany MW, van Kampen JJ, van Nierop GP, Mehraban T, Zaaraoui-Boutahar F, van IJcken WF, van den Brand JM, de Vries RD, Andeweg AC & Verjans GM. JCI Insight. 2020 Nov 5. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.138900.
Brain immune cells undergo cGAS/STING-dependent apoptosis during herpes simplex virus type 1 infection to limit type I IFN production.
Reinert LS, Rashidi AS*, Tran DN*, Katzilieris-Petras G, Hvidt AK, Gohr M, Fruhwürth S, Bodda C, Thomsen MK, Vendelbo MH, Khan AR, Hansen B, Bergström P, Agholme L, Mogensen TH, Christensen MH, Nyengaard JR, Sen GC, Zetterberg H, Verjans GM & Paludan SR. J Clin Invest. 2021 Jan 4. doi: 10.1172/JCI136824.
No evidence of varicella-zoster virus infection in temporal artery biopsies of anterior ischemic optic neuropathy patients with and without giant cell arteritis.
Verdijk RM, Ouwendijk WJ, Kuijpers RW & Verjans GM. J Infect Dis. 2021 Jan 4. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa566.
Analysis of virus and host proteomes during productive HSV-1 and VZV infection in human epithelial cells.
Ouwendijk WJ, Dekker LJ, van den Ham HJ, Lenac Rovis T, Haefner ES, Jonjic S, Haas J, Luider TM & Verjans GM. Front Microbiol. 2020 May 29. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01179.
Ileocolic intussusception as the presenting symptom of primary enteric varicella-zoster virus infection in a 7-month-old infant.
Windster JD, Ouwendijk WJ, Sloots CEJ, Verjans GM & Verdijk RM. J Infect Dis. 2020 Jun 29. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa148.
Large, stable, contemporary interspecies recombination events in circulating human herpes simplex viruses.
Casto AM, Roychoudhury P, Xie H, Selke S, Perchetti GA, Wofford H, Huang ML, Verjans GM, Gottlieb GS, Wald A, Jerome KR, Koelle DM, Johnston C & Greninger AL. J Infect Dis. 2020 Mar 28. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz199.
Immunobiology of varicella-zoster virus infection.
Laing KJ, Ouwendijk WJ, Koelle DM & Verjans GM. J Infect Dis. 2018 Sep 22. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy403.
Simian varicella virus infects enteric neurons and α4β7 integrin-expressing gut-tropic T-cells in nonhuman primates.
Ouwendijk WJ, van Veen S, Mehraban T, Mahalingam R & Verjans GM. Viruses. 2018 Mar 28. doi: 10.3390/v10040156.
A spliced latency-associated VZV transcript maps antisense to the viral transactivator gene 61.
Depledge DP*, Ouwendijk WJ*, Sadaoka T*, Braspenning SE, Mori Y, Cohrs RJ, Verjans GM** & Breuer J**. Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 21. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03569-2.
Immunopathology of virus-induced anterior uveitis.
De Groot-Mijnes JDF, Chan ASY, Chee SP & Verjans GM. Ocul Immunol Inflamm. 2018 Mar 15. doi: 10.1080/09273948.2018.1439069.
Molecular aspects of varicella-zoster virus latency.
Depledge DP, Sadaoka T & Ouwendijk WJ. Viruses. 2018 Jun 28. doi: 10.3390/v10070349.
Attenuation of simian varicella virus infection by enhanced green fluorescent protein in rhesus macaques.
Mahalingam R, Kaufer BB, Ouwendijk WJ, Verjans GM, Coleman C, Hunter M, Das A, Palmer BE, Clambey E, Nagel MA, Traina-Dorge V. J Virol. 2018 Mar 14. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02253-17
Elevated EBNA-1 IgG in MS is associated with genetic ms risk variants.
Kreft KL, Van Nierop GP, Scherbeijn SMJ, Janssen M, Verjans GM & Hintzen RQ. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2017 Oct 12. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000406.
Antibody-based immunotherapy of aciclovir resistant ocular herpes simplex virus infections.
Bauer D, Keller J, Alt M, Schubert A, Aufderhorst UW, Palapys V, Kasper M, Heilingloh CS, Dittmer U, Laffer B, Eis-Hübinger AM, Verjans GM, Heiligenhaus A, Roggendorf M & Krawczyk A. Virology. 2017 Oct 3. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2017.09.021.
Simian varicella virus inhibits the interferon gamma signalling pathway.
Ouwendijk WJ, van Veen S, Mahalingam R & Verjans GM. J Gen Virol. 2017 Oct 10. doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.000925.
Phenotypic and functional characterization of T cells in white matter lesions of multiple sclerosis patients.
van Nierop GP, van Luijn MM, Michels SS, Melief MJ, Janssen M, Langerak AW, Ouwendijk WJ, Hintzen RQ & Verjans GM. Acta Neuropathol. 2017 Jun 17. doi: 10.1007/s00401-017-1744-4.
Varicella zoster virus glycoprotein C increases chemokine-mediated leukocyte migration.
González-Motos V, Jürgens C, Ritter B, Kropp KA, Durán V, Larsen O, Binz A, Ouwendijk WJ, Lenac Rovis T, Jonjic S, Verjans GM, Sodeik B, Krey T, Bauerfeind R, Schulz TF, Kaufer BB, Kalinke U, Proudfoot AE, Rosenkilde MM & Viejo-Borbolla A. PLoS Pathog. 2017 May 25. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006346.
Satellite glial cells in human trigeminal ganglia have a broad expression of functional Toll-like receptors.
Mitterreiter JG, Ouwendijk WJ, van Velzen M, van Nierop GP, Osterhaus AD & Verjans GM. Eur J Immunol. 2017 Jun 1. doi: 10.1002/eji.201746989.

European consensus-based (S2k) Guideline on the Management of Herpes Zoster - guided by the European Dermatology Forum (EDF) in cooperation with the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), part 1: diagnosis.
Werner RN, Nikkels AF, Marinović B, Schäfer M, Czarnecka-Operacz M, Agius AM, Bata-Csörgő Z, Breuer J, Girolomoni G, Gross GE, Langan S, Lapid-Gortzak R, Lesser TH, Pleyer U, Sellner J, Verjans GM, Wutzler P, Dressler C, Erdmann R, Rosumeck S & Nast A. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Nov 2. doi: 10.1111/jdv.13995.

European consensus-based (S2k) Guideline on the Management of Herpes Zoster - guided by the European Dermatology Forum (EDF) in cooperation with the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), Part 2: Treatment.
Werner RN, Nikkels AF, Marinović B, Schäfer M, Czarnecka-Operacz M, Agius AM, Bata-Csörgő Z, Breuer J, Girolomoni G, Gross GE, Langan S, Lapid-Gortzak R, Lesser TH, Pleyer U, Sellner J, Verjans GM, Wutzler P, Dressler C, Erdmann R, Rosumeck S & Nast A. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Nov 2. doi: 10.1111/jdv.13957.



Collaborations within Erasmus MC

Collaborations outside of Erasmus MC



14 April 2024, NRC

A finger on the sore cold sore
It was an exciting invention, but it turned out to be poorly executed. A study into the herpes virus shows where things can go wrong with data research.

The cold sore virus is good at playing hide and seek. It has been clear for decades where this virus, herpes simplex (HSV), hides in the body, but how exactly this hiding works remains mysterious. When scientists in the United States reported last year, based on a new technique with large amounts of data, that the virus is hiding in more places than had been known all along, herpes researchers worldwide were immediately interested.
Could this be the reason it is so difficult to make vaccines? Should the common approach to making antivirals change?
"It was a very exciting discovery," says Georges Verjans, lead researcher at Herpeslab NL at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. "It just turned out not to be true. The research was poorly conducted." But before Verjans and his colleagues figured this out, there was a tug-of-war over the data and then extensive reanalysis. Afterwards, correcting the incorrect conclusions also turned out to be a major hurdle.

Read the article (PDF in Dutch)

1 March 2024

Tim and Anja had shingles: 'The pain was nauseating'

“I have had a few ailments. But this was really miserable. I never want shingles again,” says Rotterdam resident Tim van der Meer (40). The disease left a deep impression on him. Shingles is common: one in three Dutch people will experience it at some point.

When Tim continues to talk, it becomes clear why he never wants to experience the disease again. Even though it didn't even last a week for him. “I couldn't do anything anymore, it hurt so much. Don't lie down, don't sit down. Nothing." Tim couldn't lie down and therefore couldn't sleep. “I was awake for nights.”

Anja van Loo (66) also lay awake a lot when she had shingles. “It hurts so much, it's terrible,” she says. “You just don't know how to lie.” Anja ended up suffering from it for a month.

Although one in three people will develop shingles at some point in their lives, it is a disease that experts say we don't pay enough attention to. That is why an awareness week is now being organized for the second time to draw attention to the symptoms.
“It is a disease that many people think 'It's okay', but it is really serious. One in ten suffers from a lot of pain and the pain can last for months," says shingles expert and scientific researcher from Erasmus MC Georges Verjans.
Tim had shingles on the right side of his torso, he said. “It looked like a straight piece of cloth from below the chest to the back.” Anja had it on her left side with a few spots on the back.
The worst spot is on the face, Verjans sees. Then you run the risk of infecting the eyes.

Read the whole article on Rijnmond Nieuws (in Dutch)

December 2023

Guest Lecture 'Modeling Covid-19 immunity and therapy

Prof. Joshua T. Schiffer, MD 
Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

Date: 7 December 2023
Location: Room EE-822
Time: 13:00 - 14:00 

November 2023

Guest Lecture 'Early host defense and immune responses to herpesvirus infections

Date: 16 november 2023
Location: Room EE-822
Time: 16:00 - 17:00 

July 2023

Ius promovendi awarded to the HerpeslabNL PI:

The Erasmus MC’s Doctorate Board has granted dr. G.M.G.M. Verjans the Ius promovendi.

June 2023

Michiel van Gent receives prestigious personal grant (VIDI) from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to study intrinsic immunity against viral infections of the human nervous system

Seven scientists from Erasmus MC receive a grant from NWO for their research. This will enable the laureates to develop an innovative line of research over the next five years and to further expand their own research group. Six Vidis have been awarded and a subsidy through the Open Technology Programme. Michiel van Gent is one of them.

Viral infections of the nervous system can have very serious consequences, such as permanent neurological damage in newborns, eye infections that can lead to permanent blindness, and inflammation in the brain with fatal outcome.

This research will determine how nerve cells arm themselves against these infections to ensure that harmful viruses cannot enter. A better understanding of these protective processes will provide starting points for the development of new drugs and therapies to combat these viral infections and thus prevent serious disorders of the nervous system.

May 2023

Werner Ouwendijk received an ENW-M grant from the Dutch NWO Domain Board Science to investigate how herpesviruses establish latency and how they can reactivate.  Link 

Awakening a sleeping virus
Dr. W.J.D. (Werner) Ouwendijk (Erasmus medisch centrum)

Herpesviruses are an important cause of severe diseases in humans and animals. Following infection herpesviruses persist in the host as latent virus (i.e., the virus enters a sleep mode). Later in life, the virus can awaken (reactivation) to cause recurrent disease. I will investigate how herpesviruses establish latency and how they can reactivate. Hereto, I will be using varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the cause of chickenpox and shingles, as a model. More insight into these poorly understood processes will be essential for the development of new therapies that prevent reactivation of VZV and possibly other herpesviruses.


November 2022

Werner Ouwendijk received an ENW XS grant to explore the link between virus infections and Alzheimer’s disease Link (In Dutch)

Impact of virus infections on the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. W.J.D. (Werner) Ouwendijk (Erasmus medisch centrum)

Infectious diseases increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. How pathogens contribute to Alzheimer's is unclear. In this study, I will use a powerful and innovative technique to analyze the history of virus infections during the lifetime of an individual. By comparing Alzheimer's patients with non-demented controls, I can identify specific viruses or combinations of virus infections that are associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease. This knowledge encourages further research into how these viruses contribute to the disease and can prioritize the development of new antiviral therapies or vaccines.

October 2022

On Tuesday October 25 2022 Shirley Braspenning successfully defended her PhD dissertation ‘Molecular Biology of Lytic and Latent Varicellovirus Infections’. Link to thesis.

Defense S. Braspenning

Juli 2022

Minisymposium "Herpesviruses: molecular interactions between virus and host" 

Date: 24 october 2022
Location: Science Tower, Rotterdam and online
Time: 13:00 - 17:15 


Synopsis_Bibliography Speakers

Program Minisymposium Herpesviruses: molecular interactions between virus and host


Photo Graduation Mike EtermanMay 2022:
After performing an 8-month internship in the HerpesLab, Mike Eterman obtained his MSc degree in Biomedical Sciences at the Leiden University Medical Center. Dr. Werner Ouwendijk attended the graduation ceremony and awarded Mike his degree (image; Mike: left, Werner: right).

March 2022:
HerpesLab researcher Dr. Michiel van Gent is awarded a two-year Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (link).



Join us

Interested in joining us?


We are always seeking talented and passionate scientists to join our team, from students to postdocs to staff scientists. If you are interested in joining us, please send an email to HerpeslabNL@erasmusmc.nl and include your CV and contact information for 2-3 references.


None at the moment


  1. Evasion of T cell and NK cell immunity by varicella-zoster virus 
    (n=1 internship; available September 2024)
  2. Deciphering the role of herpes virus simplex reactive T‐cells in human corneas and sensory ganglia (n=1 internship; available September 2024)
  3. Intrinsic immune control of neurotropic virus infections 
    (n=2 internships; available September 2024)
  4. Trans-axonal transport of varicella-zoster virus
    (n=1 internship; available September 2024) 
  5. Chromatin Control of Varicella-Zoster Virus Latency and Reactivation
    (n=1 internship; available September 2024)