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Laura Graf & Team


Identification of immunological and genetic causes increasing human susceptibility to influenza A virus infections

Avian influenza A viruses (IAVs) periodically cross the species barrier and infect humans. Although such spillover events are rare, they are frequently characterized by high case fatality rates and may be a source of new pandemic strains. One example is the avian IAV subtype H7N9 that caused recurrent epidemics in China between 2013 and 2019 with 1568 cases and a case fatality rate of ca 39%. We want to understand the mechanisms preventing or enabling interspecies transmission of avian IAVs on a molecular level.

Using whole-genome sequencing as well as biochemical and virological methods, we search for genetic variants in patients infected with H7N9 that increase their risk for contracting influenza. Recently, we showed that the anti-IAV restriction factor MxA (myxovirus resistance protein A) plays a crucial role in protecting humans from zoonotic IAV infections. We detected an enrichment of rare MxA variants, which are antivirally inactive, in patients suffering from an H7N9 infection compared to healthy control individuals. Moreover, we investigate immunological risk factors, like anti-interferon autoantibodies that have previously been associated with disease severity during viral infections.



Team Leader

Laura Graf

Phone: +49 761 203 6582




Post Doc

Dr. Sebastian Weigang

Phone: +49 761 203 6582

PhD Student

Neda Hosseini

Phone: +49 761 203 6591

PhD Student

Jakob Ankerhold

Phone: +49 761 203 6582

PhD Student

Armin Mauerer

Phone: +49 761 203 6582

Located in


Prof. Dr. med. Hartmut Hengel


Kristina Gendrisch
Telefon: 0761 203-6534
Telefax: 0761 203-6626
E-Mail: kristina.gendrisch@uniklinik-freiburg.de

Gudrun Simpson
Telefon: 0761 203-6511
Telefax: 0761 203-6562
E-Mail: gudrun.simpson@uniklinik-freiburg.de

Information Desk:
Jutta Schneeberger
Telefon: 0761 203-6510
Telefax: 0761 203-6562
E-Mail: jutta.schneeberger@uniklinik-freiburg.de