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Novel antiviral approaches: from small molecules to immune intervention

The extensive gain of knowledge in virology and immunology during the last two decades provides a wealth of candidate antiviral targets and approaches, but prevention and treatment options for many viral infections remain unsatisfactory. This initiative therefore focuses on novel antiviral strategies that bridge expertise in antiviral chemotherapy and immune intervention. Its educational objective combines knowledge on both, basic and translational research concepts for innovative antiviral therapies.

The expertise of the participating researchers in characterisation of antiviral mechanisms – ranging from target validation for small molecules and cell-intrinsic restriction to vaccination and adoptive transfer of adaptive immunity – will be merged for an efficient expansion towards translational research. Specific topics of the research projects cover interference with viral replication and transmission, exploitation of intrinsic and innate immune responses, and the optimisation of vaccination and adoptive cell therapy strategies. The methods applied span biochemical and bioinformatics analyses, peptide chemistry, cell culture and immunological assays, as well as preclinical models. This complementary diversity offers the opportunity for vivid exchange and efficient cooperative, application-oriented developments.

The training concept combines profound, internationally oriented scientific education with an early exposure to important aspects of translational research. Selected through a competitive recruitment procedure, junior researchers graduated in life sciences or trained in medicine are accompanied throughout their doctoral projects by a supervisor and two mentors. Regular seminars and retreats covering the topics of the RTG enhance scientific exchange and cooperation among the training members, supervisors and the international exchange partners. Courses with external trainers enforce transferable skills required to efficiently communicate scientific contents. Training with regard to translational procedures comprises of workshops on legal and patent issues as well as industrial approaches to product development, courses on clinical studies, and a visit to a biotechnological or pharmaceutical company. Thus, all training members are enabled to efficiently and successfully pursue their scientific projects and, in parallel, become acquainted with translational concepts, which are frequently important for their future professional careers.