News | FVB | 16-04-2020

FVB research and activities relating to the coronavirus pandemic

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FVB institutes are maintaining a skeleton service until further notice – most work is being done from home; research activities that can only take place on site are currently on hold. The only exception is the coronavirus-relevant research being conducted at the FMP. Several institutes have donated materials such as protective masks and gowns to hospitals and to the Berlin and Brandenburg’s state laboratory (LLBB).

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Coronavirus | Source: Pixabay

Here is an overview of the coronavirus-relevant research and activities being undertaken at FVB institutes:

  • Researchers at the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) are studying new approaches in covid-19 diagnostics and therapy. These include antiviral compounds, such as an influenza inhibitor recently described by Professor Christian Hackenberger’s research group. The FMP published a press release on March 30, 2020: Phage capsid against influenza: perfectly fitting inhibitor prevents viral infection
    In addition, scientists of the Screening Unit technology platform, headed by Dr. Jens von Kries, are testing new substances that prevent the absorption of viruses into lung epithelial cells. To support diagnostics in the public at large, the FMP is developing a rapid test, supervised by Cell Engineering Dr. Ralf Schülein and Dr. Jens von Kries. With regard to the question of how enveloped viruses enter the cells, the structure of the virus will be investigated using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) under the lead of Professor Hartmut Oschkinat.
    Likewise, studies on the structure and dynamics of viral membrane proteins by means of solid-state NMR and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are being planned, as these structures may be targets for antiviral inhibitors (Professor Adam Lange and Dr. Han Sun).
    FMP Director Professor Volker Haucke was a guest on the Leibniz Podcast “Tonspur Wissen” about the Covid-19 pandemic. He discussed the question how new drugs against Covid-19 can be found. Take a listen at: (available only in German)
  • At the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Professor Michael Monaghan is performing voluntary work in the coronavirus crisis. Together with a small group of researchers from Berlin’s universities, he is organizing a database of experts for Berlin to conduct coronavirus tests in a bid to increase capacity at local diagnostic laboratories. Read IGB’s report at: In addition, IGB has donated its stocks of gloves, disinfectants and wipes to local care facilities in the district of Treptow-Köpenick.
  • The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has passed on masks, protective gowns and other hygiene materials as a gift to Berlin and Brandenburg’s state laboratory (Adlershof) and to the German Red Cross Hospital Berlin Köpenick. Leibniz-IZW Director Professor Heribert Hofer was a guest on the Leibniz Podcast “Tonspur Wissen” about the Covid-19 pandemic. He discussed the question of whether animals can contract or transmit Covid-19. Take a listen at: (available only in German)
  • The Paul-Drude-Institut für Festkörperelektronik (PDI) has donated around 1,200 protective masks to Charité, and is furthermore discussing the need for gloves and protective gowns.
  • At the Weierstrass Institute for Applied Analysis and Stochastics (WIAS), Dr. Markus Kantner and Dr. Thomas Koprucki have modelled and computed the corona pandemic: Beyond just "flattening the curve": Optimal control of epidemics with purely non-pharmaceutical interventions, The article was submitted for review on April 23, 2020.
    Prof. Dietmar Hömberg is co-organizer of the webinar "Mathematics of the COVID19 crisis – In the eye of the storm” on April 29, organized by the European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry (ECMI) .