As a PhD-student, Sander has studied vaccination approaches to combat the newly discovered human metapneumovirus that causes severe respiratory disease in children and the elderly (thesis defense in 2008). As a postdoc he has provided important insights on the pathogenicity and transmissibility of the pH1N1 (‘Mexican flu’) virus during the 2009 pandemic and has uncovered important virulence and new antiviral drug resistance markers of this pH1N1 virus. He worked extensively on the genetic and phenotypic traits that render avian H5N1, H7N9 and H10N8 influenza viruses transmissible via the air between mammals and has led studies on the anatomical site of the respiratory tract from which influenza viruses are transmitted via the air.
Response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Sander participated in studies on the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 in macaques and on an intranasal prophylactic treatment to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2. He has led studies on the transmissibility of MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 after they emerged in humans. His group was the first to show that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted via the air over a distance of more than 1 meter. When the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic resulted in a high demand and short supply of face masks he supervised a collaborative effort to test locally produced facemasks for their filtration efficiency for coronavirus in custom-made experimental set-ups.
Field(s) of expertise
Education and career
- 2016 - present: Assistant Professor, Department of Viroscience, ErasmusMC, The Netherlands
- 2002-2008: PhD, Department of Virology, Erasmus MC, The Netherlands
- 2000-2002: MSc, Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- 1996-2000: BSc, Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Laboratory Science and Chemical Engineering, Hogeschool van Utrecht, The Netherlands
According to Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge (accessed on 01 May 2021), my H-index is 34, with 81 publications with an average of >85 citations per publication.
Full list of publications: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=herfst+s&sort=date
20 selected publications:
- 2021. Nat Commun 12(1):1653. Kutter JS, de Meulder D, Bestebroer TM, Lexmond P, Mulders A, Fouchier RAM, Herfst S. SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 are transmitted through the air between ferrets over more than one meter distance.
- 2021. Nat Commun 12(1):5449. Broszeit F, van Beek RJ, Unione L, Bestebroer TM, Chapla D, Yang J, Moremen KW, Herfst S, Fouchier RAM, de Vries RP, Boons GJ. Glycan remodeled erythrocytes facilitate antigenic characterization of recent A/H3N2 influenza viruses.
- 2021. Science 371(6536):1379-1382. de Vries RD, Schmitz KS, Bovier FT, Predella C, Khao J, Noack D, Haagmans BL, Stearns KN, Drew-Bear J, Biswas S, Herfst S, Rockx B, McGill G, Dorrello NV, Gellman SH, Alabi CA, de Swart RL, Moscona A, Porotto M. Intranasal fusion inhibitory lipopeptide prevents direct contact SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets.
- 2021. PLoS Pathog Feb 8;17(2):e1009282. Bouwman KM, Tomris I, Turner HL, van der Woude R, Shamorkina TM, Bosman GP, Rockx B, Herfst S, Snijder J, Haagmans BL, Ward AB, Boons GJ, de Vries RP. Multimerization- and glycosylation-dependent receptor binding of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins.
- 2020. Cell Host Microbe 28:602-613 e607. Herfst S, Zhang J, Richard M, McBride R, Lexmond P, Bestebroer TM, Spronken MIJ, de Meulder D, van den Brand JM, Rosu ME, Martin SR, Gamblin SJ, Xiong X, Peng W, Bodewes R, van der Vries E, Osterhaus A, Paulson JC, Skehel JJ, Fouchier RAM. Hemagglutinin Traits Determine Transmission of Avian A/H10N7 Influenza Virus between Mammals.
- 2020. Nature 586(7830):509-515. Muñoz-Fontela C, Dowling WE, Funnell SGP, Gsell PS, Riveros-Balta AX, Albrecht RA, Andersen H, Baric RS, Carroll MW, Cavaleri M, Qin C, Crozier I, Dallmeier K, de Waal L, de Wit E, Delang L, Dohm E, Duprex WP, Falzarano D, Finch CL, Frieman MB, Graham BS, Gralinski LE, Guilfoyle K, Haagmans BL, Hamilton GA, Hartman AL, Herfst S, Kaptein SJF, Klimstra WB, Knezevic I, Krause PR, Kuhn JH, Le Grand R, Lewis MG, Liu WC, Maisonnasse P, McElroy AK, Munster V, Oreshkova N, Rasmussen AL, Rocha-Pereira J, Rockx B, Rodríguez E, Rogers TF, Salguero FJ, Schotsaert M, Stittelaar KJ, Thibaut HJ, Tseng CT, Vergara-Alert J, Beer M, Brasel T, Chan JFW, García-Sastre A, Neyts J, Perlman S, Reed DS, Richt JA, Roy CJ, Segalés J, Vasan SS, Henao-Restrepo AM, Barouch DH. Animal models for COVID-19.
- 2020. Nat Commun 11:3496.Richard M, Kok A, de Meulder D, Bestebroer TM, Lamers MM, Okba NMA, Fentener van Vlissingen M, Rockx B, Haagmans BL, Koopmans MPG, Fouchier RAM, Herfst S. SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted via contact and via the air between ferrets.
- 2020. Science 368:1012-1015.Rockx B, Kuiken T, Herfst S, Bestebroer T, Lamers MM, Oude Munnink BB, de Meulder D, van Amerongen G, van den Brand J, Okba NMA, Schipper D, van Run P, Leijten L, Sikkema R, Verschoor E, Verstrepen B, Bogers W, Langermans J, Drosten C, Fentener van Vlissingen M, Fouchier R, de Swart R, Koopmans M, Haagmans BL. Comparative pathogenesis of COVID-19, MERS, and SARS in a nonhuman primate model.
- 2020. Nat Commun 11:766. Richard M, van den Brand JMA, Bestebroer TM, Lexmond P, de Meulder D, Fouchier RAM, Lowen AC, Herfst S. Influenza A viruses are transmitted via the air from the nasal respiratory epithelium of ferrets.
- 2019. Viruses 24;11(4) pii: E381. W. Widagdo, N.M.A. Okba, M. Richard, D. de Meulder, T.M. Bestebroer, P. Lexmond, E.A.B.A. Farag, M. Al-Hajri, K.J. Stittelaar, L. de Waal, G. van Amerongen, J.M.A. van den Brand, B.L. Haagmans and S. Herfst. Lack of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Transmission in Rabbits.
- 2018. Curr Opin Virol 28:142-151 J.S. Kutter, M.I. Spronken, P.L. Fraaij, R.A. Fouchier and S Herfst. Transmission routes of respiratory viruses among humans.
- 2015. One Health 1: 1-13 K. R. Short, M. Richard, J. H. Verhagen, D. van Riel, E. J. Schrauwen, J. M. van den Brand, B. Manz, R. Bodewes and S. Herfst. One health, multiple challenges: The inter-species transmission of influenza A virus.
- 2015. Science 347(6222): 616-617 J. H. Verhagen, S. Herfst and R. A. Fouchier. Infectious disease. How a virus travels the world.
- 2014. Cell 157(2): 329-339 M. Linster, S. van Boheemen, M. de Graaf, E. J. Schrauwen, P. Lexmond, B. Manz, T. M. Bestebroer, J. Baumann, D. van Riel, G. F. Rimmelzwaan, A. D. Osterhaus, M. Matrosovich, R. A. Fouchier and S. Herfst. Identification, characterization, and natural selection of mutations driving airborne transmission of A/H5N1 virus.
- 2013. Nature 500(7461): 150-151 R. A. Fouchier, Y. Kawaoka, C. Cardona, R. W. Compans, R. A. Fouchier, A. Garcia-Sastre, E. A. Govorkova, Y. Guan, S. Herfst, Y. Kawaoka, W. A. Orenstein, J. S. Peiris, D. R. Perez, J. A. Richt, C. Russell, S. L. Schultz-Cherry, D. J. Smith, J. Steel, S. M. Tompkins, D. J. Topham, J. J. Treanor, R. A. Tripp, R. J. Webby and R. G. Webster. Avian flu: Gain-of-function experiments on H7N9.
- 2013. Nature 501(7468): 560-563 M. Richard, E. J. Schrauwen, M. de Graaf, T. M. Bestebroer, M. I. Spronken, S. van Boheemen, D. de Meulder, P. Lexmond, M. Linster, S. Herfst, D. J. Smith, J. M. van den Brand, D. F. Burke, T. Kuiken, G. F. Rimmelzwaan, A. D. Osterhaus and R. A. Fouchier. Limited airborne transmission of H7N9 influenza A virus between ferrets.
- 2012. Science 335(6069): 662-663 R. A. Fouchier, S. Herfst and A. D. Osterhaus. Public health and biosecurity. Restricted data on influenza H5N1 virus transmission.
- 2012. Science 336(6088): 1534-1541 S. Herfst, E. J. Schrauwen, M. Linster, S. Chutinimitkul, E. de Wit, V. J. Munster, E. M. Sorrell, T. M. Bestebroer, D. F. Burke, D. J. Smith, G. F. Rimmelzwaan, A. D. Osterhaus and R. A. Fouchier. Airborne transmission of influenza A/H5N1 virus between ferrets.
- 2012. Science 336(6088): 1541-1547 C. A. Russell, J. M. Fonville, A. E. Brown, D. F. Burke, D. L. Smith, S. L. James, S. Herfst, S. van Boheemen, M. Linster, E. J. Schrauwen, L. Katzelnick, A. Mosterin, T. Kuiken, E. Maher, G. Neumann, A. D. Osterhaus, Y. Kawaoka, R. A. Fouchier and D. J. Smith. The potential for respiratory droplet-transmissible A/H5N1 influenza virus to evolve in a mammalian host.
- 2009. Science 325(5939): 481-483 V. J. Munster, E. de Wit, J. M. van den Brand, S. Herfst, E. J. Schrauwen, T. M. Bestebroer, D. van de Vijver, C. A. Boucher, M. Koopmans, G. F. Rimmelzwaan, T. Kuiken, A. D. Osterhaus and R. A. Fouchier.The potential for respiratory droplet-transmissible A/H5N1 influenza virus to evolve in a mammalian host - PubMed (nih.gov)
Sander has previously trained and (co-)supervised three post-docs and three PhD students and was/is co-promotor of Martin Linster (2020), Jasmin Kutter (2021) and Miruna Rosu (2022).
He has lectured and developed course materials in different international and national courses of the Ecoles normales supérieures de Lyon, France (MSc), the Hong Kong University-Pasteur Virology Course (MSc and PhD), Radboud University Nijmegen (MSc), Erasmus University College Rotterdam (BSc), Hogeschool Arnhem and Nijmegen (MSc), the Virology Course of the ErasmusMC Molecular Medicine Postgraduate School (MSc and PhD), the ErasmusMC Querido Honours College (MSc) and the ErasmusMC Infection & Immunity MSc program.
Sander is one of the organizers of the two-yearly Virology Course for PhD-students, post-docs and medical microbiologists, during which national and international experts in the field of virology present seminars.
In his function as departmental animal experimentation coordinator, he has provided lectures for the course on laboratory animal science at ErasmusMC (a mandatory course - approved by the Dutch government - to plan and execute animal experiments).
Sander is actively involved in several scientific advisory boards. He is a member of The Netherlands Commission on Genetic Modification (COGEM), an independent scientific advisory body that provides advice to the government (primarily the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W)) on the risks to human health and the environment of the production and use of GMOs. In addition, the COGEM informs the government of ethical and societal issues linked to genetic modification. Furthermore, he is member of the US NIAID/NIH CEIRS Network Virus Risk Assessment Working Group and he has acted as consultant of the Dutch Bureau Biosecurity of the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment. Shortly after the identification of SARS-CoV-2 he was asked to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 animal models group and the Joint Expert Panel Health Holland Project that investigates the possibilities of safe indoor and semi-indoor sports events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sander is routinely invited to evaluate the work of others. He has reviewed manuscripts for Nature Microbiology, Nature Communications, Nature Medicine, Nature Reviews Microbiology, Cell Host & Microbes, PNAS, PLOS Pathogens and ~15 other journals. He is on the editorial board of One Health Outlook and serves as an academic editor of PLOS One and was guest editor for Current Opinion in Virology.
Sander is also involved in reviewing for funding agencies and he has participated in grant reviews and/or review boards for ZonMW (Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) VENI grants, ZonMW Off-Road grants and the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong.
Scholarships, grants, and awards
Sander’s research is/was supported by a continuous stream of funding including a prestigious Dutch NWO VIDI grant, multiple NIAID/NIH grants, EC FP7 grant Antigone, EC H2020 grant VetBioNet, and the Dutch ZonMW COVID-19 ‘second wave’ program.
In 2018, Sander received the prestigious Heine-Medin Award of the European Society for Clinical Virology for his “remarkable research on the mechanisms that drive airborne transmissibility of respiratory viruses”.