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Using the MERS cornavirus as an example, research is being conducted into how respiratory, zoonotic viruses develop into pandemic pathogens. The aim is to transfer the latest methods from basic research to the public health sector in order to help assess the pandemic potential of new viruses. In addition, a vaccine against MERS-CoV developed at the DZIF will be tested in an animal reservoir (camels) in line with the One Health concept, with the long-term goal of containing the pathogen load for humans.


The requirement to assess and control pandemic risks is constantly increasing. Based on the experience with SARS and MERS coronavirus, a risk assessment based on all levels should become possible. For this purpose, investigations are carried out at genome, protein, cell, organ and organism level and the interaction between virus and host is also considered.


Combined, these studies should provide valuable information for the public health sector in human and veterinary medicine for risk assessment of important respiratory diseases and help to take measures to control nosocomial outbreaks caused by such pathogens.

Focus of work

The RAPID network works complementary to other structures of infection research. It complements these with its One Health approach in which human and veterinary medical institutions work together on a common topic.

Sub projects

The network is made up of 8 sub-projects:

  1. Network coordination and functional diversity of circulating MERS-CoV variants

  2. Identification of host factors by loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments

  3. Finding new cellular barriers of zoonotic respiratory viruses at the protein level

  4. Efficiency of proteolytic activation in respiratory viruses as a prediction mechanism for pandemic risks

  5. Innate Immunity Phenotype of viruses

  6. Phenotypic characterization of new respiratory viruses in primary lung epithelium

  7. Pandemic risk assessment based on human lung tissue studies

  8. Pathological validation of a vaccination study with MVA-MERS-S vaccination candidates in dromedaries


Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten
Institut für Virologie, Charité - University Medical Center Berlin
E-Mail: virologie-ccm(at)
Tel. +49 (0)30 525 092

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Baumgärtner, Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
PD Dr. Albrecht von Brunn, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München
Dr. Vanessa Herder, Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
Prof. Dr. Stefan Hippenstiel, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Prof. Dr. Thomas Meyer, Max-Planck-Institut für Infektionsbiologie, Berlin
Dr. Peter Nagy, Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products, Camelicious, Dubai
Prof. Dr. Stefan Pöhlmann, Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH, Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung
Prof. Dr. Gerd Sutter, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Tierärztliche Fakultät
Prof. Dr. Volker Thiel, Universität Bern, Institut für Virologie und Immunologie
Dr. Asisa Volz, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Tierärztliche Fakultät
Prof. Dr. Friedemann Weber, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, FB Veterinärmedizin
Dr. Friderike Weege, Max-Planck-Institut für Infektionsbiologie, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Wernery, Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Dubai
PD Dr. Thorsten Wolff, Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin
Prof. Dr. John Ziebuhr, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Medizinische Virologie