- Keywords:HIV, Chikungunya virus, Ebola virus, arboviruses, B510-infections, B780-tropical-medicine
- Users of research expertise:
Kevin Ariën graduated as a Master in Biomedical Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2001. For his thesis research, he worked on Theileria parva at the Department of Animal Health of the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp (ITM), Belgium. Beginning of 2002, Kevin started his PhD research in the lab of Prof. Dr. Guido Vanham. In 2002, 2003 and 2005 he spent several months in the research lab of Prof. Dr. Eric J. Arts at the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA, where he studied the replicative fitness of HIV-1 and HIV-2 viruses. Kevin obtained his PhD in 2005 from the Universiteit Antwerpen on HIV replicative fitness.
After a short intermezzo in industry with Tibotec-Virco, he started postdoctoral research in 2006 in the lab of Prof. Dr. Bruno Verhasselt at the Universiteit Gent, studying various molecular and immunological aspects of the HIV accessory protein Nef. During this time, Kevin was granted a postdoctoral fellowship of the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO). At the end of 2009, Kevin returned to the ITM to study mechanisms of HIV sexual transmission and microbicides, a research program that is still ongoing in close collaboration with partners in France, South Africa and the USA.
During the last 2 years, he has set up a new research program on arthropod-borne viruses, with a particular interest in Chikungunya and in June 2014 he was appointed head of ITM’s Virology Unit. In the context of the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the Unit developed Ebolavirus diagnostic testing at ITM, as part of the National Reference Center for Tropical Infectious Diseases. His current research efforts on tropical viruses focus on the development of a new diagnostic test for the simultaneous detection of a wide variety of epidemiologically relevant arboviruses and haemorrhagic fever viruses, in the context of an IWT innovation mandate. A second postdoc and PhD student were attracted early 2015 and 2016 to enforce the Chikungunya molecular interactome work. The Unit has projects in DR Congo, Peru and Cuba to look at arbovirus prevalence, the development of new rapid diagnostic tests and Dengue-host interactions. Kevin serves as scientific adviser to the National Ebola Coordinator and as a technical expert for HIV, Ebola and Zika diagnostic testing to the WHO. He is Reviews Editor of AIDS Research and Therapy and Editorial Board member of PLOS ONE.
During the last 3 decades, the ITM Virology Unit has built up a strong portfolio on HIV research. Since 10 years, the main focus has been on HIV prevention by topical prophylaxis and HIV immunotherapy/cure. Since 2014, the Unit is gradually expanding its research portfolio on (re)emerging tropical viruses with a particular interest in arthropod-borne virus-host-vector molecular interactions, the development of new diagnostic tests and antivirals, and virus discovery.