Martijn Langereis has been awarded a 2 year NWO Rubicon grant

Langereis Martijn

Martijn Langereis, a postdoc in the lab of Frank van Kuppeveld (dept. Medical Microbiology, section of Virology), has been awarded a 2 year NWO Rubicon grant for his project "Making 'sense' of how cells sense viruses".

Viral infection of mammalian cells triggers potent antiviral innate immune responses. Central to these responses is the production of interferon (IFN-a/ß). For a long time it has been a mystery how cells could sense virus infections. Only recently, two ubiquitous RNA sensors - RIG-I and Mda5 - were identified as the long-sought sensors of cytosolic viral RNA that triggers the production of IFN. Understanding how these sensors discriminate non-self viral RNA from self RNA is one of today's major challenges. The proposed research project aims to identify the natural ligand of Mda5, a sensor that detects a variety of viruses including picornaviruses. A multidisciplinary approach using state-of-the-art virological, molecular, and biochemical techniques will be used to identify the (picorna)viral RNA ligand recognized by Mda5. Identifying Mda5 agonists is important for understanding how cells sense viruses and critical to comprehend how some viruses evade antiviral host responses by preventing recognition. Moreover, Mda5 agonists may provide new tools to boost the efficacy of vaccines or immune-mediated cancer therapy.

Within the cluster "Life Sciences" only 12 out of 122 proposals were granted. Usually, the Rubicon grant is awarded either to talented researchers that go abroad for two years to obtain new research experience or to attract talent from abroad to perform research in the Netherlands. Martijn Langereis is an exception to this rule as he is coming from the Utrecht University. NWO decided to provide him a Rubicon grant on basis of his excellent CV, the fact that he already obtained a lot of international experience during several internships that he performed abroad, and the high quality of the research group where he is going to perform his research.

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