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Prof. Dr. Ulrike Protzer

Director, Institute of Virology (VIRO)

"Viruses are molecular machines exploiting their hosts to spread them. This allows us to track evolution and interaction with our immune system in real-time. I am dedicated to understand these processes in order to fight viral diseases."

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Protzer

Director, Institute of Virology (VIRO)

 +49 89 3187 3760  Email me

"Viruses are molecular machines exploiting their hosts to spread them. This allows us to track evolution and interaction with our immune system in real-time. I am dedicated to understand these processes in order to fight viral diseases."

Career

Ulrike Protzer is dedicated to understand and control virus-related diseases. Even before the pandemic, the virologist was internationally renowned for her findings and new therapeutic approaches in the field of viral hepatitis. Since the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus triggered a global pandemic, she has been one of the most sought-after experts on Covid-19 for policy makers and the media.

Ulrike Protzer is a networker, because she knows that in order to fight viruses, many people have to work together in an interdisciplinary way and on different platforms. She herself implements this networking out of conviction: She is director of the Institute of Virology at Helmholtz Munich and at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), spokesperson of the "Translational Unit Hepatitis" at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), and of several national and EU-wide research networks.

With her team at the Institute of Virology, Protzer is studying the molecular processes of virus-host interaction. - She is driven to understand how viruses manage to exploit an organism to reproduce them - and what the body might do to counteract this. With this knowledge, Protzer is developing new therapies against viral infections exploiting different means of immune therapies. Her focus is on viral hepatitis and COID-19. In addition, the virologist's team is interested in how the immune system recognizes and fights viruses, whether viral sequences in our genome pose a risk of disease, and how viruses can best be used as vaccine vehicles or therapeutic tools. The power to quickly bring new findings in these areas into application is again due to Protzer's great talent for networking: The Institute of Virology works closely with the University Hospital "rechts der Isar" and physicians throughout Germany and Europe, and is thus able to explore findings discovered in the laboratory in patients and bring new therapeutic approaches to the clinic.

Academic Pathway

Ulrike Protzer studied medicine at the University of Erlangen, where she received her doctorate in 1989. After clinical training in Switzerland, South Africa, Frankfurt and Mainz to become a specialist in internal medicine with a focus on infectious diseases, she went to the University of Heidelberg as a postdoctoral fellow in 1996, where she received a stipend to prepare for a scientific leadership position focusing on hepatitis B virus biology. Her postdoctoral work was devoted to virus-host interactions of the hepatitis B virus. Protzer started a training as a clinical virologist and established an independent research group, and after two years moved to the University Hospital of Cologne, where she headed a junior research group on molecular infectiology until 2007. In 2005, she passed her board exam in medical microbiology and virology. At the end of 2007, she became director of the Institute of Virology at Helmholtz Munich and the Technical University of Munich in a double appointment.

  • TherVacB: Leading the EU consortium TherVacB to bring the therapeutic vaccine for hepatitis B developed at Helmholtz Munich into clinical trials.
  • TherVacB PLUS: leading a Germany-wide consortium to combine TherVacB with antibody therapy
  • DZIF TTU Hepatitis: development of antibody- and T-cell-based immunotherapies for hepatitis B
  • DZIF Antiviral Drugs: development of a receptor trap as a broadly applicable alternative to monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2
  • Collaboration with spin-off SCG Cell Therapy: T-cell therapy of HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma

 

 

Skills and Expertise

Virology  Hepatitis B  Hepatitis C  Covid-19  Virus-Host-Interaction  Immunotherapy  Vaccination

 

Professional Career

2020-2021

Member of the expert groups of the Bavarian State ministries and the Federal Chancellery.

since 2019

Spokesperson of the Translation Unit Hepatitis.

2011-2019

Member of the executive board of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF),

2007

Double appointment as director of the Institute of Virology of Helmholtz Munich and the Technical University of Munich.

2005

Board exam in Medical Microbiology and Virology.

2002-2007

Head of the Junior Research Group on Molecular Infectiology at the University of Cologne.

Endoderm Development and Regeneration group at Institute of Stem Cell Research, HMGU, Munich, Germany

1997-2002

Postdoc at the Center for Molecular Biology, Heidelberg

Medical Faculty, Technical University Munich (TUM) (‘German Elite University’), Munich, Germany

1996

Specialist in Internal Medicine

Helmholtz Zentrum München, GermanResearch Center for Environmental Health (HMGU), Munich, Germany 

Honors and Awards

2022
Award of the Bavarian Order of Merit
2021
DZIF Prize for Translational Research
2020
Heinz Meier-Leibnitz Medal

Most important publications

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Private thoughts

"Science is not an opinion! Science collects data and interprets them in dialogue and discourse."

"One can explain (almost) all biological connections to (almost) everyone, if one works out the essential points."

"All humans are equal - infectious agents and especially viruses demonstrate this impressively!"

 

"Science is not an opinion! Science collects data and interprets them in dialogue and discourse."

"One can explain (almost) all biological connections to (almost) everyone, if one works out the essential points."

"All humans are equal - infectious agents and especially viruses demonstrate this impressively!"

 

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