ESCMID Award of Excellence in CM and ID
Dr. Haagmans' research line focusses on the pathogenesis of viral infections and especially those viruses that emerge through zoonotic transmission, including SARS-CoV-2, as a basis for (future) interventions and medical countermeasures. He is a recognized leader in the field of Coronaviruses. Not only is he one of the leading scientists in the coronavirus field, he has a strong track-record in basic and translational virology studies. Over the years, he has established a line of basic virology and viro-immunology studies addressing emerging viruses, notably coronaviruses. He has always done this work in collaboration with clinicians and clinical microbiologists, who have benefitted from his in-depth knowledge, teaching, and support in bringing science into clinical practice. These collaborations also often result in new laboratory or animal studies, for instance testing the protective efficacy of plasma treatment for SARS-CoV-2 prevention in hamsters, or the development of novel serology assays in response to the outbreak. Over the last several years, he has characterized the genome of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, identified the receptor used by this virus and contributed to the identification of the dromedary camel as the reservoir species. He tested a vaccine candidate that reduces the transmission of MERS-CoV by vaccinating dromedary camels. These studies led to a more detailed understanding of the biology of this emerging virus and led to novel intervention strategies to contain the outbreak. Recently, he expanded his research to include SARS-CoV-2 and generated human monoclonal antibodies blocking SARS-CoV-2 infection, including 47D11 which he published in May this year in Nature Communications. In addition to his coronavirus research, he has characterized the genomes of many other novel viruses and their variants by full genome analysis, including ZIKA virus in the fetus of a woman with miscarriage. Special emphasis was put also on developing protocols for diagnostic work with ebolavirus in western Africa, the existing biosafety laboratories currently operational at the Viroscience Department and the newly built animal biosafety lab. This is compulsory to perform research with these highly pathogenic viruses taking into account appropriate biosafety and biosecurity measures.
Dr. Haagmans brings a strong track record of fundamental and applied research of MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, and the development of reagents and protocols for molecular and serological detection of these emerging viral pathogens. His research includes the characterization of viral variants and the serological response generated in the susceptible host species of many other viral infections of humans and animals. Dr. Haagmans has more than 175 publications on different subjects in (clinical) virology, including identification and characterization of novel emerging viruses, transmission and pathogenesis of emerging viruses, and the development of vaccines, and serological/molecular tools to diagnose viral infections. He is an expert consultant of WHO, FAO and OIE on coronaviruses. He is recognized for his unique ability to translate the fundamental aspects of pathogenesis of viral infections, with his focus on those viruses that emerge through zoonotic transmission posing a threat to public health, into options for interventions and medical countermeasures, as exemplified by the projects he is part of:
- He is coordinating the IMI ZAPI project, focused on zoonotic anticipation and preparedness initiatives, and amongst others led to discovery of broadly cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies against beta coronaviruses as well as the establishment of a pipeline for the rapid identification of novel specific antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
- He is co-PI on EU H2020 MANCO, aiming to contribute to the rapid international public health preparedness and response against the novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) through preclinical and clinical evaluation of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
- He is co-PI on CEPI MERS project on clinical evaluation of a MERS-CoV candidate vaccine.
- He is co-PI on EU H2020 ISOLDA project aimed at the development of improved vaccines for older adults against viral diseases with highest buredens at old age, by promoting virus-specific T cell responses in vaccines over 65 years, using modulators of T cell immunosenescence and inflammaging.
- He is PI on several Dutch grants on unravelling pathogenesis of viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2, and development of interventions and medical countermeasures (ZonMw, Health-Holland).
- He is co-PI on a large infrastructure grant from the Dutch government for high containment laboratory support for high threat outbreaks to find safe solutions for research into global threats by infectious diseases (NWO Roadmap, 2018 – 2028).