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Emerging viruses and respiratory tract infections

Emerging viruses pose a continuous threat to public health worldwide. Rapid and reliable diagnosis of emerging viruses is crucial e.g. for case detection, patient management, and prognostic appreciation. The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic impressively demonstrated the importance of diagnostic tools to contain the pandemic. We aim to develop, evaluate and use novel diagnostic tools for clinical practice, epidemiological studies, and translational research. Our ultimate goal is to translate our research into clinical practice and to provide evidence-based recommendations. Our research is tightly connected to the “Sektion Klinische Virusgenomik” (further details can be found here: LINK)

We focus on the implementation and evaluation of novel (multiplex) PCR assays for the sensitive detection of viral pathogens causing lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI). We use these methods to describe and better understand the epidemiology of viral LRTI. In addition, we use these tools to describe the impact of nosocomial infections and to develop better prevention strategies. To achieve this, we collaborate with multiple clinical partners and hospital hygiene locally and externally.

Part of our research is dedicated to serve as the virological reference laboratory for the German community acquired pneumonia network CAPNETZ and to provide expert laboratory support in the framework of several ongoing studies.

Selected publications from our group:

  1. Braeken DCW, Essig A, Panning M, Hoerster R, Nawrocki M, Dalhoff K, Suttorp N, Welte T, Pletz MW, Witzenrath M, Rohde GGU, Rupp J, and CAPNETZ Study Group. Shift in bacterial etiology from the CAPNETZ cohort in patients with community-acquired pneumonia: data over more than a decade. Infection 2021;49:533-7.
  2. Bornemann L, Kaup O, Kleideiter J, Panning M, Ruprecht B, Wehmeier M. Real-life evaluation of the Sofia SARS-CoV-2 antigen assay in a large tertiary care hospital. J Clin Virol 2021;140:104854.
  3. Dahne T, Bauer W, Essig A, Schaaf B, Spinner CD, Pletz MW, Rohde G, Rupp J, Witzenrath M, Panning M, Members of the Csg. The impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the prevalence of respiratory tract pathogens in patients with community-acquired pneumonia in Germany. Emerg Microbes Infect 2021;10:1515-8
  4. Tonshoff B, Muller B, Elling R, Renk H, Meissner P, Hengel H, Garbade SF, Kieser M, Jeltsch K, Grulich-Henn J, Euler J, Stich M, Chobanyan-Jurgens K, Zernickel M, Janda A, Wolfle L, Stamminger T, Iftner T, Ganzenmueller T, Schmitt C, Gorne T, Laketa V, Olberg S, Plaszczyca A, Cortese M, Bartenschlager R, Pape C, Remme R, Huzly D, Panning M, Weigang S, Giese S, Ciminski K, Ankerhold J, Kochs G, Schwemmle M, Handgretinger R, Niemeyer CM, Engel C, Kern WV, Hoffmann GF, Franz AR, Henneke P, Debatin KM, Krausslich HG. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children and Their Parents in Southwest Germany. JAMA Pediatr 2021;175:586-93.
  5. Eis-Hubinger AM, Honemann M, Wenzel JJ, Berger A, Widera M, Schmidt B, Aldabbagh S, Marx B, Streeck H, Ciesek S, Liebert UG, Huzly D, Hengel H, Panning M. Ad hoc laboratory-based surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 by real-time RT-PCR using minipools of RNA prepared from routine respiratory samples. J Clin Virol 2020;127:104381.
  6. Rombach M, Hin S, Specht M, Johannsen B, Luddecke J, Paust N, Zengerle R, Roux L, Sutcliffe T, Peham JR, Herz C, Panning M, Donoso Mantke O, Mitsakakis K. RespiDisk: a point-of-care platform for fully automated detection of respiratory tract infection pathogens in clinical samples. Analyst 2020;145:7040-7.


  • CAPNETZ foundation, Hannover
  • Spindiag GmbH, Freiburg

Figure 1: Scatter dot plot of threshold (Ct) values for Sofia antigen FIA negative and positive results in 91 NAT positive samples. (Bornemann et al., JCV 2021)


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