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Andreas Bergthaler becomes Professor for Molecular Immunology at MedUni Vienna, and CeMM Adjunct Principal Investigator


Andreas Bergthaler (© Franzi Kreis / CeMM).

On 1 January 2022, Andreas Bergthaler and his team members will join the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna. There, Andreas will head the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology. He will now become an Adjunct Principal Investigator at CeMM.

Andreas Bergthaler studied veterinary medicine at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. For his graduate studies, he joined the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the ETH and University of Zurich (Switzerland), with Profs. Hans Hengartner and Nobel Laureate Rolf Zinkernagel. After postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Prof. Daniel Pinschewer at the University of Geneva (Switzerland), he worked with Prof. Alan Aderem at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle (USA).

Since he joined CeMM as Principal Investigator in 2011, Andreas Bergthaler’s research has been focused on the molecular mechanisms of inflammatory diseases, how inflammatory processes are regulated and how the immune system responds to viral infections. To this end, the Bergthaler laboratory studies viral infections in mouse models using an integrative approach of virology, immunology, pathology, and systems biology. A particular point of interest rests on the metabolic-inflammatory disease of cachexia (Baazim H et al. Nature Immunology 2019), and the impact of viral infections on systemic immunometabolism. Andreas’ laboratory also leads several projects on immune evasion, and host-pathogen interactions. Another remarkable contribution was the discovery of a master regulator of liver metabolism during chronic viral infection (Alexander Lercher et al. Immunity 2019).

In March 2020, Andreas Bergthaler became coordinator together with computational biologist Christoph Bock of “Mutational Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in Austria”, a project launched by CeMM in collaboration with the Medical University of Vienna, and in the meantime funded by the AGES, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety. The interdisciplinary project team at CeMM is focused on investigating SARS-CoV-2 genomes in Austrian patients using cutting-edge next-generation sequencing techniques. So far, more than 21000 genomes have been sequenced, and this Austrian viral genome data is part of a global map of SARS-CoV-2 mutations with the aim of helping decipher the mutational dynamics underlying the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the project, the research team has shown deep insights into transmission and mutation properties of SARS-CoV-2 (Alexandra Popa et al. Science Translational Medicine 2020) and that SARS-CoV-2 mutations can complicate immune surveillance of human T-killer cells (Benedikt Agerer, Maximilian Koblischke, Venugopal Gudipati et al. Science Immunology 2021). In March 2021, Andreas Bergthaler received an urgent funding grant from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to expand his studies on SARS-CoV-2.

Andreas Bergthaler is also the recipient of an ERC Starting Grant (“Crosstalk of Metabolism and Inflammation – CMIL”), and several awards, including the Löffler-Frosch-Prize of the Society of Virology. Furthermore, he is co-founder of the clinical-stage company Hookipa Pharma, which develops immunotherapies against infectious and malignant diseases.

This is not a goodbye, the MedUni Professorship is a natural step forward into his scientific career, and Andreas Bergthaler can be congratulated to his achievements. CeMM does not offer tenure and therefore Andreas’ relationship with CeMM enters a new phase: As Adjunct Principal Investigator, Andreas and his team will stay connected with the institute through the CeMM PhD and Pre-ERC Postdoc Programs, scientific events and seminars, faculty meetings and well-established networks and research collaborations.

CeMM is grateful for several years of successful collaboration, great papers, inspiring discussions and exceptional talents, and wishes Andreas and his team all the best for the future research activities at the Medical University of Vienna!