Epidemiology of highly pathogenic microorganisms
The Leendertz Lab
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.
Human-wildlife interfaces, wildlife disease ecology and infectious agent evolution
Head: Dr. Grit Schubert
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
Head: Dr. Fabian Leendertz
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.
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.
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Aref Aghebat Rafat
Research assistant (M.D.)
Research assistant (M.D.)
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!
Our last 10 papers
Our work and our comments on colleagues' work in the press
SARS-CoV-2 related discussions
About our work
About the work of others