Drosten Lab – Virology


In the coming decades, emerging infections and epidemics will pose major challenges for our increasingly globalized society. Greater trade and travel links, combined with economic and societal transformation in many parts of the world, will bring humans into increased contact with pathogens. Viruses have particularly efficient means of transmission and can therefore set off global epidemics (pandemics). In the recent past, outbreaks of SARS, MERS, avian and swine flu, Ebola, and Zika have made this abundantly clear. Particular attention should be paid to viruses transmitted by the respiratory route or by special routes such as mosquitoes. Most viral epidemics start as zoonotic diseases and therefore need to be detected and combated in animal reservoirs. The overlap between human and veterinary medicine, especially in terms of health needs and actions, comes together within the One Health concept.

Main research areas and projects

The Institute of Virology coordinates research collaborations and projects across these thematic areas. For example, the Priority Programme 1596: Ecology and Species Barriers in Emerging Viral Diseases of the German Research Foundation (DFG) is devoted to basic research into the role played by host barriers – both ecological and molecular – in the origin of emerging viral diseases. The RAPID consortium, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), focuses on developing novel approaches to risk assessments for emerging zoonotic viruses such as the MERS agent. RAPID is an undertaking of the National Research Network on Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, whose seven consortia and six junior groups are also coordinated by the Institute of Virology. The Institute is part of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) and coordinates there the Working Group on Virus Detection and Preparedness. One of the three offices of the German Research Platform for Zoonoses is located at the Institute. The Institute’s researchers are members of COMPARE, an EU-funded consortium that uses sequenced-based techniques to better identify, contain and mitigate emerging infectious diseases, as well as members of PREPARE, a clinical study network aimed at improving preparedness against viral outbreaks. The Institute of Virology is a founding member of the European Virus Archive (EVAg), an EU-funded non-profit organization dedicated to making available unique research resources for virology, diagnostics, and vaccine production.

An essential part of the Institute’s work is research in tropical countries. As a partner of the EU project ZikAlliance, researchers at the Institute are studying the Zika epidemic as well as its impact in South and Central America. Institute of Virology researchers are conducting extensive field work in Panama as part of the DFG’s Priority Programme 1596. The Institute’s researchers are taking part in several projects (in Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Kenya) under the DFG’s Africa Initiative, and the Institute hosts the BMBF junior research group ARBOSPREAD, which conducts field work in Uganda on the ecology and emergence of insect-borne viruses. Its researchers are also participating in a project of the DFG’s collaborative research center on Future Rural Africa, which is led by the Universities of Cologne and Bonn.


  • Elke Bogner Lab – Replication Mechanisms of Herpesviruses
  • Victor Corman Lab – Virus Diagnostics, Clinical Virology, Ecology and Evolution of Zoonotic Viruses
  • Felix Drexler Lab – Virus Epidemiology
  • Christine Goffinet Lab – Innate immunity and Viral Evasion
  • Terry Jones Lab – Bioinformatics
  • Sandra Junglen Lab – Ecology and Evolution of Arboviruses, Viral Diversity
  • Detlev Krüger / Sabrina Weiß Lab – Molecular Evolution and Epidemiology of Hantaviruses
  • Marcel Müller Lab – Functional Diversity of Highly Pathogenic Coronaviruses & Comparative Immune Biology
  • Daniela Niemeyer Lab – MERS- and SARS-Coronavirus
  • Monika Reuter Lab – Enzymes in Genetic Engineering
  • Günther Schönrich Lab – Virus Immunology

More information about the team can be found on the Charité website.

Selected Publications

Niemeyer D, Mösbauer K, Klein EM, Sieberg A, Mettelman RC, Mielech AM, Dijkman R, Baker SC, Drosten C, Müller MA. The papain-like protease determines a virulence trait that varies among members of the SARS-coronavirus species. PLoS Pathog. 2018 Sep 24;14(9):e1007296. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007296. eCollection 2018 Sep. PubMed PMID: 30248143; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6171950.

Corman VM, Eckerle I, Memish ZA, Liljander AM, Dijkman R, Jonsdottir H, Juma Ngeiywa KJ, Kamau E, Younan M, Al Masri M, Assiri A, Gluecks I, Musa BE, Meyer B, Müller MA, Hilali M, Bornstein S, Wernery U, Thiel V, Jores J, Drexler JF, Drosten C. Link of a ubiquitous human coronavirus to dromedary camels. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Aug 30;113(35):9864-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1604472113. Epub 2016 Aug 15. PubMed PMID: 27528677; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5024591.

Hermanns K, Göhner C, Kopp A, Schmidt A, Merz WM, Markert UR, Junglen S, Drosten C. Zika virus infection in human placental tissue explants is enhanced in the presence of dengue virus antibodies in-vitro. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2018 Dec 1;7(1):198. doi: 10.1038/s41426-018-0199-6. PubMed PMID: 30504926; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6274641.

Muth D, Corman VM, Roth H, Binger T, Dijkman R, Gottula LT, Gloza-Rausch F, Balboni A, Battilani M, Rihtarič D, Toplak I, Ameneiros RS, Pfeifer A, Thiel V, Drexler JF, Müller MA, Drosten C. Attenuation of replication by a 29 nucleotide deletion in SARS-coronavirus acquired during the early stages of human-to-human transmission. Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 11;8(1):15177. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33487-8. PubMed PMID: 30310104; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6181990.

Mühlemann B, Jones TC, Damgaard PB, Allentoft ME, Shevnina I, Logvin A, Usmanova E, Panyushkina IP, Boldgiv B, Bazartseren T, Tashbaeva K, Merz V, Lau N, Smrčka V, Voyakin D, Kitov E, Epimakhov A, Pokutta D, Vicze M, Price TD, Moiseyev V, Hansen AJ, Orlando L, Rasmussen S, Sikora M, Vinner L, Osterhaus ADME, Smith DJ, Glebe D, Fouchier RAM, Drosten C, Sjögren KG, Kristiansen K, Willerslev E. Ancient hepatitis B viruses from the Bronze Age to the Medieval period. Nature. 2018 May;557(7705):418-423. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0097-z. Epub 2018 May 9.