Viruses as pathogens of humans, animals and plants, the reemergence of long known deadly viruses and the emergence of new viruses in various parts of the world, viruses as transport vehicles in gene therapy — viruses make the headlines almost every week. Virology is clearly an area that is of special and personal interest to everyone. Virology is also a prime example for the interdisciplinarity of modern biosciences, applying methods and concepts of molecular and cell biology, of biophysics and biochemistry as well as of biomathematics to a specific area of research. On the other hand, studying viruses has played an enormous role in advancing molecular and cell biology and much of the current textbook knowledge in these disciplines has originated from the analysis of the interaction of viruses with their host cell and host organism.
The Department of Virology comprises diagnostic and research laboratories and educates students of medicine and biology. The diagnostic unit employs serological and molecular tests for determination and in some cases also quantitative analysis of all relevant human viruses, as well as virus isolation in tissue culture. A major focus of our research lies on the biology of human immunodeficiency virus, the causative agent of AIDS; other projects investigate pathogens of the intestine (noroviruses, reoviruses), arthropode borne viruses and Hepatitis E virus. Research topics further include the developement of gene therapy strategies and antiviral compounds. Members of the department teach the virology part of the Heidelberg curriculum for medical students (heicumed). In addition, lectures, practical courses and seminars are offered to biology students, in particular as part of the Major ‘Infectious Diseases’, and we offer training for Bachelor and masters students, as well as for PhD and MD students.
On these pages we would like to inform you about the department, introduce our work and hope to raise your interest for current questions in Virology.