Lia van der Hoek

(Principal Investigator), PhD

1988 …2024

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Research interests

There are a variety of diseases for which involvement of a viral pathogen is suspected. Lia van der Hoek of the Amsterdam UMC, location AMC, has developed a virus-discovery technique that can identify any RNA and DNA virus, in culture or directly in clinical samples (VIDISCA). The method is based on the cDNA amplified restriction fragment length polymorphism technique combined with Next Generation Sequencing and it is successfully used to identify several unknown pathogens among which the human coronavirus HCoV-NL63 in 2003, an endemic human coronavirus that remained unrecognized till then. It soon became clear that HCoV-NL63 had spread worldwide with continuous reinfections throughout life, and the average age of first infection being around the first years of life. Recently the dynamics of reinfections by endemic coronaviruses were investigated. Besides the more than 30 research papers on HCoV-NL63 and the other endemic human coronaviruses Lia van der Hoek continued with virus discovery and has found several other previously unknown human and animal viruses which she could link to unexplained diseases. 

Following identification of a virus, a culture system is essential for further investigations. Pseudostratified human airway epithelium is a sophisticated culture system and the best imitation of the human trachea. Lia van der Hoek has used this system to propagate human bocavirus, and human coronavirus-HKU1, two recently identified respiratory viruses for which no other culture system is available.

The unbiased identification of viruses allows not only the detection of new viruses but also the description of the entire "virome", which is the pool of viruses present at a certain site of the body (e.g. the gut or the circulation). An example of the virome research of Lia van der Hoek is the investigation of blood of pregnant mothers, of whom it was known whether the offspring did, or did not, develop schizophrenia. This study revealed that a limited virome in the circulation of the pregnant mother is associated with the development of schizophrenia in the offspring.




Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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