Competition between virus and host cells: live-capture of virus-infected cells. After infection of a host cell, a virus tries to replicate (in green), and tries to prevent the host cell from interfering with viral replication by attacking the host cell’s nucleus (in blue) and shutting down protein production of the host cell (in red). Credit: Sanne Boersma © Hubrecht Institute.

17 March 2022

Marvin Tanenbaum receives ERC Consolidator Grant

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Marvin Tanenbaum, group leader at the Hubrecht Institute and Oncode Investigator, receives a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). He is awarded two million euros to strengthen his research group and continue his innovative research in the next five years. Together with his group, Tanenbaum will use novel approaches to gain a deep molecular understanding of viral biology, which will contribute to the development of therapeutic interventions for viral infections.

Viruses are units built from two components: a nucleic acid and a small number of associated proteins. After it enters a cell, a virus hijacks many of the cell’s functions and turns it into a virus-producing factory. Simultaneously, the virus shuts down the host cell’s antiviral immune response.
The success of viral infection differs dramatically from cell to cell, but the underlying mechanisms of these differences are poorly understood. As a result, viruses propagate through tissues in different ways, leading to heterogeneous disease progression.

Virus live stream

Although viruses have been studied for decades, the earliest steps of cellular infection have remained unknown. Only a few viral molecules are present during this early stage, which makes molecular analysis difficult. However, the events occurring in this period are critical for the virus in order to successfully infect a host cell. To gain more insight into the earliest steps of viral infection, researchers from the group of Marvin Tanenbaum recently developed a virus live stream. With this advanced technique, they are able to visualize the entire course of a virus infection with great precision.

RSV biology

With the ERC Consolidator grant, the group will further expand their toolbox for live visualization of virus infections in single molecules. The researchers aim to obtain molecular insights into early viral infection of a type of virus called a negativesense RNA virus. A specific variant of this virus type, called respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, can be deadly in infants and vulnerable adults, but lacks effective treatment. Using their novel approaches, the Tanenbaum lab will gain a deep understanding of RSV biology, which will eventually inform therapeutic interventions.

Picture Marvin Tanenbaum



Marvin Tanenbaum is group leader at the Hubrecht Institute.