About us

Many viruses cause infectious diseases and are a major burden to human health, but only a minority of viruses is also associated with different cancers. Epstein-Barr-Virus (EBV) is among this group of viruses and was discovered as the first human tumor virus more than 50 years ago.

EBV is the etiological agent of infectious mononucleosis (also known as ‘mono’ or ‘kissing disease’), an acute infectious disease. The virus is also associated with different prevalent forms of human malignancies like Burkitt lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, gastric carcinoma, and several rare forms of cancer as well as tumors in immunocompromised patients. Moreover, EBV has a role in the development of various autoimmune diseases and is implicated in the chronic fatigue syndrome.

In our research activities we aim at deciphering EBV’s molecular functions and mechanisms in order to better understand how the virus contributes to different acute and chronic diseases as mentioned above. We study how the host’s immune system keeps EBV and other members of the herpes virus family in check in most individuals. We also study why and when the immune systems fails to do so giving rise to life threatening diseases in immunocompromised patients. We also investigate how lymphoma and leukaemia, i.e. tumors of the immune system, arise and how they can be treated more specifically and effectively. Eventually, our research aims at developing new drugs, vaccines and cell-based therapies to efficiently treat or – preferentially – prevent infectious diseases and cancer.

We are a team of approximately 40 scientists, technicians and students assigned to six groups and a clinical cooperation group. Our work, which covers basic research, preclinical and clinical projects – is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (DZIF) und various foundations.