• Epidemiology of highly pathogenic microorganisms

    The Leendertz Lab

  • Research

    Infectious agent ecology and evolution for zoonosis research

    Many human pathogens find their origins in animals. Some zoonoses emerged a long time ago but the process is ongoing and zoonotic emergence still represents a serious threat to global public health. Our group, part of the Robert Koch Institute, combines different approaches to investigate the sources and reservoirs of microorganisms with a zoonotic potential, the mechanisms of their transmission between species (including towards humans) and their co-evolution with their hosts.

  • Groups

    Human-wildlife interfaces, wildlife disease ecology and infectious agent evolution

    Surveillance of zoonotic infections in rural Africa

    Through the African Network for improved Diagnostics, Epidemiology and Management of Common Infectious Agents (ANDEMIA) we aim to research and combat acute respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections, the emergence of antimicrobial resistance and acute febrile disease of unknown cause in sub-Saharan Africa. While this project is a collaborative effort between many units at the Robert Koch Institute and several African partners, our group focuses on pathogens of animal origin.

    Zoonotic microorganisms in tropical wildlife and livestock

    We examine the distribution and circulation of many microorganisms, including some with zoonotic potential, in wild nonhuman primate communities in sub-Saharan Africa. We also investigate other wildlife species, especially those which have adapted to human settlements (bats and rodents) as well as livestock as putative intermediate hosts.

    Viral evolution

    We aim at deriving public health-relevant predictions from the study of the deep evolution of viruses. We focus on African great apes and bats, and investigate all conceivable sources of information on their co-evolution with viruses – from their own genomes to the genomes of their exogenous viruses, using contemporaneous and historical samples. We use this information to identify ancient host-virus associations and the processes that shaped these associations.

  • People

    Download CV or consult ResearchGate/personal webpages by clicking on names

    Head of the unit

    Deputy-head of the unit

    Senior scientist

    Post-doctoral associate

    Post-doctoral associate

    Post-doctoral associate

    Post-doctoral associate

    Post-doctoral associate

    Kevin Merkel

    Technical assistant

    Caroline Röthemeier

    Technical assistant

    Technical assistant

    Maja Kovacev-Wegener

    Administrative assistant

    Clarence Graf

    Administrative assistant

    Aref Aghebat Rafat

    Ph.D. candidate

    Ph.D. candidate

    Tobias Gräßle

    Ph.D. candidate

    Jennifer Jaffe

    Ph.D. candidate

    Mueena Jahan

    Ph.D. candidate

    Benjamin Mubemba

    Ph.D. candidate

    Yanthe Nobel

    Ph.D. candidate

    Kamila Pleh

    Ph.D. candidate

    Ph.D. candidate

    Sarah Kribi

    Research assistant (M.D.)

    Paul Pitzinger

    Research assistant (M.D.)

    Josefin Hayeß

    Student assistant

    Milen Sterev

    Student assistant

  • Collaborators

    Primatology

    • Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany (C. Boesch, C. Crockford, T. Deschner, H. Kuehl, R. Mundry, M. Surbeck, R. Wittig)
    • Pathology Unit, German Primate Centre (K. Mätz-Rensing)
    • Program "Sociality and health in primates", Leipzig and Göttingen, Germany (C. Fichtel, M. Heistermann, P. Kappeler, S. Knauf, C. Kraus, J. Ostner, C. Roos, O. Schuelke, D. Zinner)
    • WWF Germany and Central African Republic (I. Herbinger)

    Infectious diseases

  • Where we work

    Between Berlin and sub-Saharan Africa

    We are involved in zoonosis research from the very first steps on. Most of our students will collect a significant part of the samples needed for their projects, most commonly acquiring those from nonhuman primates or small mammals from sub-Saharan Africa. We work closely with our African partners and this extends well beyond field missions. Samples are often first screened in their country of origin before being analyzed more in depth in our lab in Berlin. To see exactly where we have performed field missions this year or are permanently active click on our favorite planet!

  • Publications

    Our last 10 papers

  • Media coverage

    Our work and our comments on colleagues' work in the press

    SARS-CoV-2 related discussions

    About our work

  • Jobs

    Job openings

    Currently no job openings.

    Spontaneous applications

    We are always happy to discuss with motivated students and researchers interested in joining our lab. Do not hesitate to get in touch with Grit, Fabian or Seb. We may have some ideas to help you find your own funding! For example, here is an extensive list of post doc funding that you might be eligible for. Here is a list of potential funding sources for PhD programs.

  • Contact

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