Prof. Ab Osterhaus

Scientific Coordinator of ASKLEPIOS, based at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Research field

Virology, Infectious Diseases

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Research Profile


Professor Ab Osterhaus is one of the most successful virologists in the world. He has been named 'the David Beckham of Virology'. “I studied veterinary medicine, so I tend to focus on the animal world. Viruses that jump from animals to humans pose a serious threat to public health”, says Prof. Osterhaus.


In unvaccinated humans, rabies is almost always fatal once neurological symptoms appear. Around 55,000 fatal cases occur each year. It is not fully understood how the disease develops. New knowledge on the life-cycle of the virus and interaction of the virus with infected patients is needed to develop effective therapies.


Prof. Osterhaus: “Rabies is the deadliest viral disease we know. It is most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. After infection, the virus travels to the brain, where it causes inflammation. ASKLEPIOS aims to unravel the mechanisms of rabies virus infection. Ultimately, we want to develop a novel therapy.”


ASKLEPIOS aims to identify molecules that: 1) inhibit rabies virus replication, 2) suppress inflammation after infection, 3) can help the new medicines to reach the patient’s brain. Next, ASKLEPIOS will evaluate whether combinations of these new medicines can improve survival rates after exposure to the rabies virus.

Finding novel therapies for rabies

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In the Picture
Image credits

Background image: Scanned from Dobson, Mary J. (2008) Disease, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus, p. 157

Portrait of the project coordinator: ASKLEPIOS

Timeline (in chronological order): 1599: Sanofi Pasteur; 1885: Britannica Kids; 1953: Jennifer Krauel