The Brennan group

‌‌‌Graphic of a tick

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 genus Phenuiviridae of the Bunyavirales order. The programme of work falls into the following areas:

1.  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

2.   Developing tools and techniques to study the replication of tick-borne viruses in vivo

  • Establishing infection models and studies in live ticks

3.   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

4.   Exploring the molecular determinants of virus tropism

  • Finding out why these viruses are transmitted by ticks rather than other arthropods such as mosquitoes

5.   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


Ben Brennan CVR Tick Film



External Collaborators: 

Prof Stefanie Becker                     University of Hannover, Germany

Dr Lesley Bell-Sakyi                      University of Liverpool, UK

Prof Jae Jung                                  University of Southern California, USA

Dr Thomas Bowden                      University of Oxford, UK

Dr Ulrich Schwarz-Linek              Universty of St Andrews, UK


You can find out more about the Brennan Lab here. 

Research group members

Photo of Mazigh Fares

Mazigh Fares
Research Assistant 


Profile picture of Andrew Clarke

Andrew Clarke
MVLS DTP PhD Student

Picture of Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra Wilson
PhD Student 







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



MRC, University of Glasgow and CVR logos