Emerging topic: The COVID-19 pandemic


Against the background of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, HIRI has taken immediate actions to identify ways to render the virus harmless.


identifying new Ways 

We have already started to take a closer look at a strategy that the novel corona virus employs to multiply within the host: this strategy is called ribosomal frameshifting. 

Neva Caliskan and her group "Recoding mechanisms in infection" are currently working to identify the interaction partners involved in the infection process of SARS-CoV-2.

HIRI group leader Emmanuel Saliba is using single-cell RNA-seq to obtain time-resolved RNA maps for individual cells from infected patients.

Further research groups at the HIRI are about to start deciphering the interface between Sars-Cov-2 and its host. Based on their individual expertise, they will shed light on the infection process from several angles.

Our scientists will employ state-of-the-art technology available at HIRI and its national and international cooperation partners to investigate how the novel coronavirus enters the host and how it uses the host’s body to multiply and to elucidate the symptoms of COVID-19.

render the virus harmless

The joint aim of our research efforts on SARS-CoV-2 at HIRI is to strategically acquire knowledge about central aspects of the infection process and disease development to identify the Achilles' heels of SARS-CoV-2.

This will provide the basis to initiate the second step of the value chain: to exploit the gained knowledge to develop effective treatments against SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses to counteract this and future pandemics.

A promising approach for the rapid development of a cure for COVID-19 and many other diseases are mRNA vaccines.  Several interviews of HIRI scientists regarding the advantages, characteristics and application possibilities of these innovative vaccines and the current state of research at the HIRI can be found in the following video interview (German) and the articles below.


Further information on SARS-CoV-2 and the research efforts undertaken by our parent center, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research can be found here

"Der Würzburger Infektionsbiologe Jörg Vogel erforscht das Coronavirus"

Bayern 2 Podcast "DAS AKTUELLE INTERVIEW AUS FRANKEN" (06.05.2020) with Professor Jörg Vogel on the corona research at the HIRI and the development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus (German only).

"Intensive Forschung zu Sars-CoV-2"


Newspaper article in the Fränkische Nachrichten (22.04.2020) about the HIRI researchers' search for approaches to treating and preventing infection with the new Coronavirus (German only).

"Binnen Wochen lässt sich dieser Impfstoff entwickeln" 

Interview with HIRI director Prof Jörg Vogel (01.04.2020) the Würzburg-based newspaper "Mainpost" about the ongoing research at the HIRI and the potential of RNA vaccines (German only). 

"We need to fully understand the course of the infection as well as the ensuing host response to help healthcare professionals to treat high-risk patients. The analysis of virus-host interactions on the single-cell level could be key, it would allow us to pinpoint molecular factors and cellular pathways for prioritizing drug targets."

Jörg Vogel, in his LifeTime COVID-19 interview

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