Human nucleosome with histone bound to DNA, AdobeStock ©MedBioChem

Surpassing the genetic code: Influence of epigenetics on infections and the immune system

Monday, 24. January 2022

Hamburg. The impact of epigenetics on infections and the immune system is the focus of this year's "Epigenetics & Memory in Infection & Immunity" symposium organized by the Leibniz Center Infection (LCI), which will bring together international researchers in an online event on January 27-28, 2022.

Epigenetics describes how the activity of genes can also be influenced in the long term by factors such as environmental influences or our diet. This helps to determine when a gene is transcribed and when it is not, without changing the genetic code itself. This type of gene regulation also has a major influence on infection and inflammation processes as well as on our immune system and is the focus of this year's LCI symposium.

The program of the online event is diverse: In four thematic sessions, each with a keynote lecture, renowned scientists will shed light on the interplay of genes, epigenetic changes, infectious agents and immune responses.

Prof. Mihai Netea from Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands) will report on the importance of the "trained" immune system in his keynote lecture.

Prof. Carine van Lint of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) addresses the epigenetic interactions of HIV latency.

Prof. Jonathan Weitzman from the Université de Paris (France) talks about the influence of epigenetic regulation in host and parasite gene expression.

Dr. Mélanie Hamon from the Institut Pasteur in Paris (France) will explain mechanisms of histone modification in the course of bacterial infections in her keynote lecture.

The program will be supplemented by many other contributions on the topic: For example, the speakers will present new findings on the epigenetic influence on infections with hepatitis, filo or herpes viruses, but also on diabetes, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases or asthma.

"After the LCI Symposium had to be cancelled last year due to the pandemic, we are happy to have it take place again in 2022 as an online event. We are looking forward to interesting presentations, lively discussions and lots of exchange on the highly interesting topic of epigenetics and its influence on infectious diseases and the immune system," says Prof. Thomas Dobner from HPI, current LCI speaker.

"A better understanding of these epigentic relationships is highly relevant for the development of new and individualized concepts for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases," continues Prof. Adam Grundhoff, head of the HPI research group "Virus Genomics" and co-organizer of the event.

"Our understanding of the inheritance of genetic features has undergone a paradigm shift in that genes undergo epigenetic changes during life and these changes can then also be inherited. The exciting thing for us is that even features are influenced that can make subsequent generations more susceptible or more resistant to infectious diseases," says Prof. Ulrich Schaible from the FZB.

Prof. Jürgen May, Chairman of the BNITM Board of Directors, concludes: "The field of epigenetics is playing an increasingly important role in infection research. The strength of our network is to use our different competences for a modern, preferably personalized medicine."

The event is hosted by the Leibniz Center Infection, an alliance of three Leibniz institutes in northern Germany for the bundling of expertise in the field of infection research. Members are the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), the Research Center Borstel, Leibniz Lung Center (FZB) and the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI).

Media contact:

Dr. Franziska Ahnert-Michel (Phone: 040/480 51-108)

Press invitation:

Press representatives are cordially invited to participate in the online symposium. There will be the opportunity for separate questions and discussions with selected speakers as well as the current LCI speaker Prof. Thomas Dobner.

Press interviews possible on January 27 and 28, 2022, by appointment (Zoom interviews).

Registration at: press(at), phone: 040/48051-108.


About the Leibniz Center Infection:

The Leibniz Center Infection (LCI) is a dynamic alliance of the Leibniz Institutes Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center (FZB) and the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI). As members of the Leibniz Association, the institutes conduct strategic, topic-oriented research of scientific issues of social relevance. The main purpose of the alliance is to promote the research focus "Global and emerging infections" as a core competence in the northern German scientific area. The aim is to create a national center of excellence in infection research together with local university partners and major research institutions.

More information: