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Philipp Kolb & Team

Research Topics

Our lab is interested in the receptor-mediated interaction between viruses and the host, with a focus on host immunology. Current projects deal with antibody-mediated immunity against herpesviruses, antibody-mediated dissemination of viruses in the host and links between autoimmunity and viral infections.


  1. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is one of the eight known human herpesviruses. It causes a particularly high disease burden in congenitally infected newborns, often leading to severe physical or sensorineural defects. One major reason for the success of HCMV in establishing life-long infection is its ability to withstand humoral immunity, particularly neutralizing IgG antibodies. Consequently, there is no vaccine available. Antiviral therapy against HCMV disease is restricted to few antiviral agents fraught with severe side effects including teratogenic damage and emergence of virus resistance. As they are not applicable in some clinical settings including pregnancy, vulnerable patient groups will greatly benefit from alternative intervention strategies with fewer risks. We are interested in solving the molecular mechanisms driving congenital HCMV infection and aim to identify viral targets for novel intervention and prevention strategies.

  2. Circulating soluble IgG immune complexes (sICs) are major culprits of systemic and local inflammation in certain autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We recently developed a cell-based reporter assay, which enables the detection and characterization of sICs with unparalleled sensitivity in a variety of clinical samples and antibody preparations. Using this assay on SARS-CoV2 infected individuals, we were also able to uncover the existence of sICs in severely diseased COVID-19 patients. In doing so, we identified a completely novel mechanism in viral immunopathology and described a missing link that explains the uncanny similarities between severe COVID-19 and autoimmune diseases such as SLE. We are interested in exploring the existence of sICs in other infectious and autoimmune diseases and aim to reveal the exact composition of sICs to enable efficient sIC removal, ultimately alleviating systemic inflammation driven by the humoral immune response.

List of publications



Funded projects



Participation in research consortia (PI: Hartmut Hengel)

DFG-Forschergruppe 2830 „Advanced Concepts in Cellular Immune Control of Cytomegalovirus“

NIH CMV P01 "Immunologic and Virologic Determinants of Congenital Cytomegalovirus Transmission and Disease in Rhesus Monkeys”, Grant Number: 1P01AI129859-01A1

Infect-ERA: TANKACY (TArgeting Natural Killer cells Against CYtomegalovirus) - concluded

Kompetenznetzwerk Zytomegalie Baden-Württemberg Ulm-Tübingen-Freiburg – concluded



Lab members & contact

Team Leader: Philipp Kolb (Ph.D.)
Phone: +49 761 203-6587


Former lab members

  • Alfred Martin (M. Sc thesis, MSCI Glasgow)
  • Ying Pang (Dr. sc. hum)
  • Sophia Petkova (MD thesis)
  • Martin Ebermann (MD thesis)
  • Sandra Hägele (M. Sc thesis)
  • Ann-Kathrin Kohl (B. Sc thesis)
  • Magdalena Huber (M. Sc thesis)
  • Haizhang Chen (MD thesis)                           
  • Annika Sievert (B.Sc thesis)
Team Leader:

Philipp Kolb
Phone: +49 761 203-6587


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