Dr J.W.R. Hovius (1976) has been appointed professor of Medicine, with a focus on vector-borne infectious diseases, at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA).
In vector-bone infectious diseases the infection takes place through the bite of infected arthropods, such as insects or ticks. The most significant vector-borne disease in the Netherlands is Lyme borreliosis (also known as Lyme disease), caused by the bite of a tick infected with the Borrelia bacteria. In his research, Joppe Hovius concentrates mainly on the immune response to the pathogens of vector-borne diseases, and in particular the response to the Borrelia bacteria and to the tick itself. The number of people afflicted by Lyme borreliosis is increasing in many parts over the world, and in the Netherlands too. Consequently, research in this field is high on the agenda.
A vaccine and better diagnostics
Hovius is investigating the molecular mechanisms behind the immune suppression triggered by tick saliva and how these influence transmission of the Borrelia bacteria from ticks to humans, as well as the clinical course of Lyme borreliosis. This research not only provides new insights into the human immune system and the nature of Lyme borreliosis, but also contributes to the development of a vaccine against ticks. Such a vaccine could provide protection against several tick-borne diseases. In addition, Hovius is researching ways of improving the diagnostic tests for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme borreliosis.
Sharing knowledge in education and practice
Recognising Lyme borreliosis can be difficult in practice. Hovius is working to increase medical knowledge of this disease, as well as other vector-borne diseases, among students, trainee doctors and healthcare providers. To give one example, he was involved in a national e-learning programme on Lyme borreliosis that was supplied free of charge to all family doctors in the Netherlands. Moreover, he provides teaching in the field of infectious diseases to students in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes for Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the UvA. He also brings students into contact with scientific research and introduces them to the laboratory at the Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine (CEMM) at the AMC.
Hovius is the founder of Amsterdam UMC Multidisciplinary Lyme borreliosis Center at the Amsterdam UMC, which has been recognised as an expertise centre by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Amongst other activities, this centre provides patient-oriented, high-quality care to patients suspected of having Lyme borreliosis or other tick-borne diseases. He has also been involved in the creation of the Netherlands Lyme borreliosis Expertise Centre, in which various Dutch partners – including the patients’ association – work together to improve care for patients with Lyme borreliosis in the Netherlands.
About Joppe Hovius
Hovius is an internist, infectious disease specialist and member of staff at the Department of Internal Medicine at the AMC and at CEMM, where he is AMC Principal Investigator for ticks and tick-borne diseases. He was the scientific coordinator of the European research project ANTIDotE and is a member of the NorthTick consortium (see: northsearegion.eu/northtick/project-partners), as well as principal investigator of several research projects funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research & Development (ZonMw), including the LymeProspect, LymeProspect KIDS, Ticking on Pandora’s box and Victory studies (see: tekenradar.nl). Hovius is the author of various articles in established scientific journals such as Immunity, The Lancet, CELL Host & Microbe, Plos Medicine, Plos Pathogens, Nature Communications and Nature Reviews Disease Primers, and he is a member of various national and international working groups and committees in the field of tick-borne diseases. In early 2021, in close collaboration with ‘stichting biowetenschappen en maatschappij’, an elaborate book on ticks, tick-bites and tick-borne diseases for the interested laymen audience will be published (ijgeverijlias.nl). In 2021 Hovius was also awarded a VIDI-grant from ZonMw to investigate novel preventive strategies against human tick-borne diseases. Finally, in September 2022 Hovius will chair and host the 16th International Conference on Lyme borreliosis and other tick-borne diseases (iclb2022.org).