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3.B Experimental Virology

My group’s research focuses on the pathogenesis of the globally most prevalent mosquito-borne viral infections. These include infections triggered by positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses of the family Flaviviridae such as dengue virus (DENV) and West Nile virus (WNV), and a member of family Togaviridae - chikungunya virus (CHIKV). The incidence and disease burden of all three viral infections have dramatically increased during the last decades due to major societal, ecological and economical changes, including massive urbanization, travel, lack of mosquito control, climate change and international trade. Dengue is currently the most common mosquito-borne viral disease worldwide, with an estimated 390 million infections annually. CHIKV re-emerged explosively in 2005-2006 afflicting millions of people in the Indian Ocean areas and ever since continues its rapid expansion. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs available to prevent or treat the diseases caused by DENV, WNV and CHIKV.

Research lines:
Molecular interactions between the virus and the host
This research line aims at unravelling the molecular interactions between the virus and the host in order to guide the development of safe and efficacious vaccines and anti-viral drugs. Specifically, we focus on dissecting 1) the cell entry processes of virus particles 2) mechanisms involved in antibody-mediated neutralization and enhancement of infection, 3) the role of miRNAs in viral replication, 4) molecular mechanisms by which viruses counteract anti-viral responses in target cells eg. stress granules and autophagy.

Immunology of mosquito-borne viral (co)-infections

This research lines focuses on innate immunity mechanisms triggered during the mosquito-borne infections. We are particularly interested in 1) molecular pathogenesis of CHIKV-mediated arthralgia/arthritis and 2) the interplay of innate immune responses elicited during concurrent DENV and CHIKV infection. This research line is coordinated by dr. Izabela Rodenhuis-Zybert, who received a VENI-grant on this topic.

Note for students

Our viruses are categorized as Biosafety Level (BSL) 3 pathogens and thus the vast majority of our research is conducted at the BSL 3 laboratory. Therefore, students willing to do an internship with us, are required to have previous working experience within BSL 2 environment.










Principal investigator

Jolanda SmitJolanda Smit
PhD, Professor of Experimental Virology

Tel: +31.(0)50 363 2738
Mail: Jolanda Smit


Izabela Rodenhuis-ZybertIzabela Rodenhuis-Zybert
PhD, Associated Investigator

Tel: +31.(0)50 363 8218
Mail: Izabela Rodenhuis-Zybert


Research staff

Mayra Diosa Toro, PhD student
Liliana Echavarría Consuegra, PhD student
Alberto Aguilar Briseño, PhD student
John Arboleda Alzate, PhD student
Mariana Ruiz Silva, PhD student
Tabitha Hoornweg, PhD student
Heidi van der Ende-Metselaar, Research Technician
Denise van de Pol, Research Technician
Jolanda Oldengarm-Leidelmeijer, staff assistant


University Medical Center Groningen
Department Medical
Microbiology – Virology & Immunology Research
hpc EB 88
Hanzeplein 1
9713 GZ Groningen
Postbus 30.001
9700 RB Groningen Nederland

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