The research group on ticks and tick-borne diseases was originally founded by Ao.Univ.-Prof. Dr.med.univ. Gerold Stanek at the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology within the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology of the Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. For many years professor Stanek conducted, supervised, and supported research on ticks and tick-borne pathogens. After professor Stanek’s official retirement in 2020, Ing. Michiel Wijnveld, PhD, took over the lead of the research group.

The research group is focussed on three main aspects:

  1. Tick and tick-borne pathogen surveillance
    • It is important to keep track of ticks and tick-borne pathogens and their occurrence in the environment. To this end, the research group regularly collects and screens ticks for pathogens. The most recent study was published in 2022 and focussed on recreational areas in Vienna (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00508-022-02046-7). By conducting these surveys, we can map the locations of where specific tick species are present and identify so called hotspots where certain pathogens are exceptionally prevalent.
  2. Tick-host-pathogen interaction
    • Ticks, hosts, and pathogens all interact with each other. To get a better understanding of the dynamics involved, we have several research tools available. One of which is the artificial feeding system in which ticks can be fed using a silicone membrane instead of a living host. In this system we can investigate, for example, how long it takes before certain pathogens are transmitted by ticks. Is this directly after attachment? Do pathogens need to adjust and will they only be transmitted after several hours/days? An example of artificial feeding can be seen on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/efAlXLkdlfg.
  3. Molecular investigation of pathogens
    • Another focus of our research is to investigate pathogens on a molecular level. Here we want to find out how certain systems function within a pathogen. What makes a microorganism tick? How do they defend themselves against their environment? Can we find alternative ways to treat the disease by inhibiting certain pathways?

If you want to find out more about our work, you can look at our research page or our publications.