In the media: Dutch TV program "Het Klokhuis" about fruit flies: link
Mosquitoes and other insects are vectors for transmission of many important viral pathogens. Some of these arthropod-borne (arbo-)viruses are responsible for worldwide epidemics and high mortality rates. For example, Dengue virus, a (+) RNA virus from the Flavivirus family, causes an estimated 50 million infections per year worldwide and can causes severe, sometimes fatal disease. The antiviral immune response in the insect vector is an important determinant for transmission of arboviruses.
Vertebrates depend on a sophisticated network of innate and adaptive immune responses for antiviral defense. Insects and other non-vertebrates, however, lack these responses; yet, they are able to effectively clear viral infections. We recently showed that RNA interference (RNAi) - post-transcriptional gene silencing guided by small interfering RNA (siRNA) - is an important antiviral immune response in the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster. We study innate antiviral immunity using a combination of molecular virology, mammalian and insect cell biology, and fly genetics. Specific research interests include: i) The role of RNAi in antiviral immunity, and viral mechanisms to evade or suppress the RNAi response. ii) The identification of novel antiviral mechanisms in insects. iii) The mechanism of Dengue virus replication and the identification and characterization of compounds with antiviral activity against Dengue virus.
Ronald van Rij is associate professor at the Dept. of Medical Microbiology. He obtained his PhD Cum Laude from the University of Amsterdam. After post-doctoral training at the University of California San Francisco, USA and the Hubrecht Institute, the Netherlands, he moved to Nijmegen as a recipient of a Radboudumc tenure-track fellowship. He received a VIDI fellowship from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Kluyver Award from the Netherlands Society for Microbiology (NVvM) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of microbiology. Current research is funded by an Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC).
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