The Brennan group

Current Research

W‌hat makes viruses tick?

The Brennan Lab uses virological methods such as reverse genetics technologies and acarology to probe how clinically relevant pathogens are transmitted by ticks. We seek to understand how these viruses manipulate the different cellular environments in a tick or a mammal to sustain virus replication and cause disease. 

Our research‌ focuses on a specific group of emerging viruses called Phleboviruses, found within the Phenuiviridae family of the Bunyavirales order. The programme of work falls into the following areas:

 Examining the interaction of tick-transmitted viruses with their arthropod vector

  • Studying the molecular biology of tick-borne viruses in different systems
  • Analysing the innate immune factors of the tick that control virus replication
Developing tools and techniques to study the replication of tick-borne viruses in vivo
  • Establishing infection models and studies in live ticks
Investigating the roles of the viral proteins during infection of both mammalian and arthropod cells
  • Answering how/why viruses can infect ticks without causing disease
Exploring the molecular determinants of virus tropism
  • Finding out why these viruses are transmitted by ticks rather than other arthropods such as mosquitoes
Developing attenuated viruses for use as potential live-attenuated vaccines or vector control agents
  • In collaboration with other CVR members we seek to generate new live-attenuated vaccine candidates for these emerging viruses

You can find out more about the Brennan Lab here. 

Research Group Members


Benjamin Brennan

Principal Investigator


Mazigh Fares

Research Assistant


Alexandra Wilson

MVLS DTP PhD Student


Andrew Clarke

MVLS DTP PhD Student


Kelsey Davies



Marine Petit

Marie-Sklodowska Curie Fellow

Public Engagement

The Brennan Lab have embarked on a citizen science project to raise awareness of tick and tick-borne viruses in Scotland. They are workign with The Conservation Volunteers Scotland to co-create a project which aims to find out where ticks are in Scotland, and what viruses they might be carrying. 


Find out more about the project here



Previous Group Members

We have been fortunate enough to have worked with some excellent scientists in the past, they are:

Doctoral Students

Veronica Rezelj, Stephanie Cumberworth, Frederic Gusmag (external PhD supervisor)


Mareike Kubinski, Yuji Wada