The Brennan group

Research Programme

‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Graphic of a tickWhat 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


Research programmes:

Arthropod-borne infections

Innate immunity & host species barriers 


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

Research group members

Mazigh Fares
Research Assistant

MRC, University of Glasgow and CVR logos