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Leading German Virologist Joins NEIDL


A leading German virologist will join Boston University Medical Center’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) next March. BU has hired Elke Mühlberger, an expert on the Ebola and Marburg viruses, as an investigator at the NEIDL and associate director of its Biomolecular Production Core Laboratory. Mühlberger, who will begin her work at BU on March 1, 2008, will also be a School of Medicine associate professor of microbiology.

She is an assistant professor in the department of virology at the University of Marburg, in Germany. She has served as a group leader for the department since 1993 and oversees a seven-member research team as well as the biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) training program for postdoctoral scientists and graduate students.

“Dr. Mühlberger is one of the world’s leading molecular virologists studying the hemorrhagic fever viruses,” says Mark Klempner, NEIDL director and Medical Campus associate provost for research. “With over 14 years of experience in high-containment BSL-4 laboratory environments, she is also an outstanding mentor for scientists who are working toward understanding how hemorrhagic fever viruses cause disease.”

The NEIDL is being built in Boston’s South End by the BU Medical Center with a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Researchers will study dangerous infectious diseases — whether they occur naturally or are introduced through bioterrorism — and develop diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Study of the most serious infectious microorganisms, such as Ebola, will take place in NEIDL’s biosafety level 4 lab. (Laboratories are required to meet one of four safety levels; level 4, or BSL-4, is the highest, used to contain potentially life-threatening microorganisms.) Construction of the NEIDL is scheduled to be completed in 2008.

Mühlberger will oversee the day-to-day administrative and research activities of the Biomolecular Production Core Laboratory, which will specialize in infectious virology research with an expertise in how viruses spread, the molecular biology of infectious viruses, and the production and purification of viral proteins and glycoproteins. As a NEIDL investigator, she will develop an independent research program.

“I am thrilled to move to Boston because of the immense scientific potential provided by BU and the NEIDL,” says Mühlberger. “I am sure that the NEIDL will soon be one of the most attractive research facilities in the world for scientists interested in finding treatments for infectious diseases.”

Mühlberger holds a doctor rerum naturalium and a diploma degree — equivalent to a Ph.D. and an M.S., respectively — in virology from the University of Marburg.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.