Prof. J.W.R. Hovius MD PhD


Prof. MD PhD J.W.R. Hovius

Full Professor
Main activities
Patient care, Research
Internal Medicine - Infectious Diseases
Focus of research

Innate and adaptive immune responses in vector-borne diseases and Lyme borreliosis in particular.

Ticks require a bloodmeal to reproduce, during which they not only transmit Borrelia burgdorferi - the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis -, but also introduce physiologically active proteins into the host skin. These proteins inhibit blood coagulation and suppress local host immune responses, which facilitates both tick feeding as well as B. burgdorferi infection. Identification of the molecular mechanisms involved in immunosuppression induced by tick salivary proteins contributes to the understanding of the pathogenesis of Lyme borreliosis and could lead to the development of novel anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive agents. In addition, interfering with tick-host-pathogen interactions, for example by an anti-tick vaccin based on specific tick (salivary) proteins, could prevent transmission of B. burgdorferi from the tick to the host.


Key publications
  • Schuijt Tim J., Coumou Jeroen, Narasimhan Sukanya, Dai Jianfeng, Deponte Kathleen, Wouters Diana, Brouwer Mieke, Oei Anneke, Roelofs Joris J. T. H., van Dam Alje P., van der Poll Tom, van't Veer Cornelis, Hovius Joppe W., Fikrig Erol A tick mannose-binding lectin inhibitor interferes with the vertebrate complement cascade to enhance transmission of the lyme disease agent Cell host & microbe 2011;10 (2):136-146 [PubMed]
  • Hovius Joppe W. R., de Wever Bob, Sohne Maaike, Brouwer Matthijs C., Coumou Jeroen, Wagemakers Alex, Oei Anneke, Knol Henrike, Narasimhan Sukanya, Hodiamont Caspar J., Jahfari Setareh, Pals Steven T., Horlings Hugo M., Fikrig Erol, Sprong Hein, van Oers Marinus H. J. A case of meningoencephalitis by the relapsing fever spirochaete Borrelia miyamotoi in Europe Lancet 2013;382 (9892):658 [PubMed]
  • Coumou J., Herkes E. A., Brouwer M. C., van de Beek D., Tas S. W., Casteelen G., van Vugt M., Starink M. V., de Vries H. J. C., de Wever B., Spanjaard L., Hovius J. W. R. Ticking the right boxes: classification of patients suspected of Lyme borreliosis at an academic referral center in the Netherlands Clinical microbiology and infection 2015;21 (4):368.e11-368.e20 [PubMed]
  • Sarksyan Denis S., Platonov Alexander E., Karan Lyudmila S., Shipulin German A., Sprong Hein, Hovius Joppe W. R. Probability of Spirochete Borrelia miyamotoi Transmission from Ticks to Humans Emerging infectious diseases 2015;21 (12):2273-2274 [PubMed]
  • Wagemakers Alex, Koetsveld Joris, Narasimhan Sukanya, Wickel Melvin, Deponte Kathleen, Bleijlevens Boris, Jahfari Seta, Sprong Hein, Karan Lyudmila S., Sarksyan Denis S., van der Poll Tom, Bockenstedt Linda K., Bins Adriaan D., Platonov Alexander E., Fikrig Erol, Hovius Joppe W. Variable Major Proteins as Targets for Specific Antibodies against Borrelia miyamotoi Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. 2016;196 (10):4185-4195 [PubMed]
All Publications
Curriculum Vitae

Joppe W.R. Hovius (1976) started studying Medicine at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in 1995. For his scientific internship (1999) he studied immune responses directed against Borrelia infection at the Department of Medical Microbiology, Academic Medical Center (AMC), under supervision of dr. A.P. van Dam. Thereafter, Hovius left for the United States and studied immunosuppressive tick salivary proteins at Yale University, School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, under supervision of prof. dr. E. Fikrig. In 2001 he received his Masters of Science and started his pre-clinical medical training. In 2003 he received his medical degree and started as a resident Internal Medicine at the AMC. He received a travel stipend form the Dutch Infectious Diseases Society (VIZ) and returned to Yale University (2005) to study the effects of co-infection with different Borrelia species on the course of experimental Lyme borreliosis. That year Hovius also received an ‘AGIKO stipend’ from the Netherlands organization for health research and development (ZonMw) to study the pathogenesis of Lyme borreliosis under supervision of prof. dr. E. Fikrig, dr. A.P. van Dam, prof. dr. P. Speelman and prof. dr. T. van der Poll. In October 2008 he resumed his residency in Internal Medicine and in March 2009 he obtained his PhD degree for which he obtained the first price in the excellent thesis award (AMC). In 2010 he was awarded a VENI-grant (ZonMw) for furher studies on early Lyme borreliosis pathogenesis and a research grant (ZonMw) to study the role of ticks in the transmission of Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q-fever. In 2013 he was awared a FP7 European collaborative grant, as the coordinator, in search of novel candidates for anti-tick vaccines.

Hovius is currently involved in multiple fundamental research projects on Lyme borreliosis at the Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine (CEMM) and collaborates with several laboratories in the Netherlands, France and the USA. His research focuses on 1) the role of tick salivary gland and midgut proteins in the pathogenesis of Lyme borreliosis, 2) identification of novel preventive strategies, such as anti-tick vaccines, to prevent Lyme borreliosis and other tick-borne diseases, 3) the role of specific genetic defects in the development of Lyme borreliosis. As a post-doc and junior staff member at CEMM he was the co-promotor of Tim Schuijt (thesis defense 2011), who investigated the role of novel tick proteins in tick feeding and Borrelia transmission, and as co-promotor he is currently supervising six PhD students at the AMC and one at the RIVM. As an infectious diseases specialist he has funded the Amsterdam Multidisciplinary Lyme Center ( at the AMC, where in collaboration with the departments of dermatology, neurology and reumatology among other medical departments, many patients with Lyme borreliosis are diagnosed and treated each year. This will form the basis for future clinical studies on novel diagnostic tests, treatment modalities and preventive measures to combat Lyme borreliosis and other tick-borne diseases. He has contributed to the development of a quality guideline on the treatment and diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis (CBO & LCI), is a junior associate editor of The Netherlands Journal of Medicine and review editor for Frontiers in Environmental Health, is the Dutch representative for the International Ad Hoc group on Lyme borreliosis as well as the ESCMID Study Group for Lyme Borreliosis and is part of the organizing committee of International Conference of Lyme Borreliosis and other tick-borne diseases 2015 in Vienna, Austria, among other honorary memberships of medical and scientific committees.

Research programmes

Prof. MD PhD J.W.R. Hovius (Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases)

 Hovius and his group study both basic well as clinical factors involved in the pathogenesis of Lyme borreliosis. 

PhD Students
S. Jahfari

BEng J.I. Ersoz

Prof. PhD T. van der Poll (Pathophysiology of sepsis)

Current research funding
  • AMC
  • AMC (Vrijgesteld)
  • BioRad Laboratories
  • Europese Unie
  • Ministerie van VWS
  • National Environmental Health Association
  • Stichting AMC Foundation (Vrijgesteld)
  • ZonMw


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