Kevin K. Ariën (born 1978) graduated as a Master in Biomedical Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in 2001 and obtained a PhD in virology in 2005 from the University of Antwerp for his work on HIV replicative fitness at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp (ITM) and the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. He then continued with a postdoctoral stint at Tibotec-Virco (2005-2006) and as an FWO Postdoctoral Fellow at Ghent University (2006-2009) before returning to the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp in late 2009.
For about a decade, Dr. Ariën’s research in the field of HIV focused on replicative fitness, understanding biological mechanisms of sexual transmission and prevention through topical microbicides. In 2014, he started a new research program on emerging arthropod-borne (arbo) viruses, with a particular interest in Chikungunya virus and in June 2014 he was appointed head of ITM’s Virology Unit, director of the Virus BSL3 facility and Professor of Virology. Dr. Ariën is one of the founding members of the Outbreak Research Team and the Insectary Core at ITM. Since 2020, he is co-director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for HIV/AIDS Diagnostics and Laboratory Support (BEL-27). Starting 2022, Dr. Ariën was appointed as head of the department of Biomedical Sciences at ITM.
In the context of the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the Unit developed Ebola virus diagnostic testing at ITM, as part of the National Reference Center for Tropical Infectious Diseases. His current research efforts include the development of new diagnostic tools for the detection of a wide variety of (re-)emerging viruses, including epidemiologically relevant arboviruses and haemorrhagic fever viruses. A more basic research program focuses on virus-host-vector molecular interactions of chikungunya and dengue virus and identifying sylvatic reservoirs of arboviruses. The Unit has active collaborations in Peru, Cuba, and DR Congo on the field application of new diagnostic tests, studying arbovirus-host interactions and sylvatic reservoirs of (re-)emerging viruses. Early 2020, the unit invested a significant part of its capacity on SARS-CoV-2 research, incl. setting up diagnostic methods, studies on the duration of immune responses following natural infection and vaccination, and re-infection.
Dr. Ariën serves as scientific adviser to the National Ebola Coordinator and as a technical expert for viral diagnostics to the Belgian Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products. He regularly serves on review panels of the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) and Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and he received the Year Prize for Science Communication in 2015 from the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. Dr. Ariën is Editorial Board member of Frontiers in Immunology and PLOS ONE.
Kevin K. Ariën is also appointed as Professor in the department of Biomedical Sciences of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Antwerp, where he teaches general Virology, Molecular Virology and Infections, and Pathogenesis and clinical aspects of tropical infectious diseases.