Elke Mühlberger, Ph.D.

Professor of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology
National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL)

620 Albany Street
Office: NEIDL 4; 617-358-9153
Lab: NEIDL 4; 617-358-9150

Diploma in Biology          Philipps University, Marburg, Germany
Ph.D.                                    Philipps University, Marburg, Germany

See BU Profile for additional information and publications
Mühlberger Lab Website

I have a long-standing research interest in studying highly pathogenic RNA viruses, including Ebola and Marburg viruses which belong to the filovirus family. Filoviruses cause a severe disease in humans with high case fatality rates. Due to the high pathogenicity of these viruses, they are classified as biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) pathogens. My lab studies different aspects of the filovirus infection cycle. One focus of our work is to dissect the mechanisms of filovirus genome replication and transcription with the goal to identify determinants of virulence. This includes work on Lloviu virus, a new member of the filovirus family, whose pathogenicity in humans is not known. Tools we use for this work include minigenome systems and recombinant viruses.

Another focus of our research is centered around the host response to filovirus infection. To mimic the events in infected patients, we mainly use human primary cells for our infection studies. This includes macrophages and monocyte-derived dendritic cells isolated from blood, as well as human immune and liver cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). The iPSC-derived infection platforms are developed in collaboration with tissue engineers at BU’s Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM). We use these platforms to analyze the host response to filovirus infection, including inflammatory signatures, cell damage and antiviral defense mechanisms. The information we obtain from these studies will help us to determine virulence factors and identify targets for antiviral therapeutics.

We are also interested in newly discovered viruses that are closely related to highly pathogenic viruses, such as the filoviruses and henipaviruses. Our focus here is to understand the pathogenic potential of these viruses and determine correlates of protection.