Professor, Head of the Infection Biology Unit, German Primate Center
Major Research Interests
The Infection Biology Unit investigates virus host cell interactions with a focus on the first step of the infection process, viral entry into target cells.
Emerging viruses, like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, can pose a serious threat to public health. Activation by host cell proteases is essential for infectivity of many emerging viruses. We are elucidating which proteolytic systems are hijacked by emerging corona-, filo-, bunya- and influenza viruses for activation. On the basis of this information we will identify inhibitors and evaluate their antiviral activity in cell culture and animal models. Moreover, we are interested in defining which host cell receptors are used by emerging viruses for cellular entry. Finally, we are investigating how interferon-induced antiviral effector molecules inhibit infection by emerging viruses.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the causative agent of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a major global health crisis, and constitutes the second research focus of the Infection Biology Unit. We seek to understand how the composition of the glycan coat of the HIV envelope protein modulates viral spread in and between individuals. This question will be addressed by employing simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of macaques as model system for HIV infection of humans.
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Selected Recent Publications