Molecular Epidemiology and Reverse Genetics of Lassa Virus

PD Dr. Stephan Günther Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin, Hamburg

On Wednesday June 15, 2005 at 5:15 pm, PD Dr. med. Stephan Günther will be our guest HPI-seminar speaker. Dr. Günther is expert on human Hepatitis B Viruses and viruses causing hemorrhagic fever, in particular Lassa fever virus. He is currently head of a virus research group at the Bernhard Nocht Institut in Hamburg.
Dr. Günther started his scientific carrier at the Charité, Berlin. The experimental part of his MD thesis on Hepatitis B Virus was done at the Institute of Virology, Charité, and at the Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie in Munich. As a postdoctoral fellow he continued this work at the Heinrich-Pette-Institut until 1998, and then was recruited to the Bernhard Nocht Institut as an independent group leader.
His scientific carreer is accompanied by discoveries in various fields of virology. Among them are the identification and functional characterization of specific Hepatitis B Virus variants and genotypes, the development of novel diagnostic assay systems for emerging viruses, identification and characterization of SARS-coronavirus and Lassa fever virus strains, some of which have been introduced to Europe by travellers returning from Africa.
Lassa fever virus is a RNA virus belonging to the family of Arenaviridae. It was discovered as the causative agent of a hemorrhagic fever in 1970. Lassa fever is endemic in West Africa and is estimated to affect some 100,000 people annually. Great progress in the understanding of the life cycle of arenaviruses, including Lassa virus, has been made in recent years. In the forthcoming seminar at the HPI Dr. Günther will present the latest information on the epidemiology of Lassa virus and on the molecular analysis of the replication machinery of the virus by reverse genetics techniques.