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AG Corman - Virus diagnostics, clinical virology, ecology and evolution of zoonotic viruses

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Research Focus:

Our group is concerned with the diversity and evolution of RNA viruses, especially with zoonotic viruses, which have their reservoir in other mammals and can sometimes trigger severe diseases in humans. By studying virus diversity in known and suspected animal reservoirs, we try to better understand the biology of these viruses. The knowledge gained also helps us to develop diagnostic tests for these new and emerging viruses.

[Englische Übersetzung]


Victor M. Corman ist “Highly Cited Researcher 2018” in der Kategorie Cross-Field, Clarivate Analytics ( ) und gehört damit zu dem 1% der meistzitierten Wissenschaftlern seines Fachgebiets (basierend auf der Auswertung der Datenbank „Web of Science“)


I. Virus diagnostics

We develop and evaluate novel tools for the diagnostics of emerging viruses. Together with our diagnostic team at Labor Berlin, we are working on the implementation of High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS) technologies for the routine detection of viral diseases in humans. Our current work focuses on pathogens that can cause acute or chronic encephalitis (e.g. Lyssavirus, Enterovirus, Flavivirus…).

Our work on virus diagnostics is funded by an intramural grant from Labor Berlin – Charité Vivantes Services GmbH and by a grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

II. Clinical virology

Currently, we focus on chronic Hepatitis E virus infection and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We are interested in the diagnostics, epidemiology and clinical presentation of MERS-CoV infections in humans and potential animal reservoirs. We act as the National Consultant Laboratory for human Coronaviruses and accept samples for diagnostic investigations of cases compatible with the WHO case definition of MERS-CoV infection. We also provide reference services (i.e., confirmatory testing and troubleshooting) to laboratories worldwide.

Our work on chronic Hepatitis E virus infection is funded by a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Health. Our work on MERS-CoV is funded by the German Centre of Infection Research (DZIF) and the German Federal Ministry of Health (National Consultant Laboratory).

Human West Nile Virus case imported to Germany

West Nile Virus Tree with the new WNV found in Germany in 2018.
Maximum Likelihood phylogenetic analysis of complete coding sequence from the imported WNV case together with reference sequences. Bootstrap values (%) of 500 repetitive analyses are given next to the nodes. Taxon names of all reference sequences include GenBank accession number, strain, and lineage as defined before [1,2]. 1 Barzon, L. et al. Clin Microbiol Infect 21, 1122 e1121-1110, doi:10.1016/j.cmi.2015.07.018 (2015). 2 Fall, G. et al. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11, e0006078, doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0006078 (2017).

A patient hospitalized in Berlin since 18th August 2018 has been confirmed to have an infection with West Nile Virus (WNV). The infection was likely acquired during a holiday trip to Northern Italy (Venice area) after his return cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples taken on 28th of August tested positive for West Nile virus RNA.

In light of the recent increase of human West Nile virus cases in Southern Europe (see:
for details) and the lack of any available virus sequences we want to share the WNV genome sequence obtained from the CSF sample of this case. Download-LINK *.fasta

The full genome sequence is highly similar to that of strain Italy/2014/Verona/35.2 (GenBank Acc No. KP789956), a strain that belongs to genetic lineage II and was obtained from a human case in the same geographic area 4 years ago. There are only 12 nucleotide exchanges across the entire genome of 10,939 nt.
The sequence has been submitted to GenBank for immediate release (GenBank Acc. no. MH910045).

Victor Corman

Christian Drosten

III. Ecology and Evolution of Zoonotic Viruses

We mainly work on RNA viruses causing diseases in humans and livestock or feral animals. Currently, we focus on the evolutionary origins of human Coronaviruses and a novel zoonotic genotype of Hepatitis E virus found in dromedary camels (Orthohepevirus A genotytpe 7).

This work is funded by a project from the German Centre of Infection Research (DZIF) as well as the German Academic Exchange Service.


  • Prof. Thomas Bock, Viral Gastroenteritis and Hepatitis Pathogens and Enteroviruses, Robert Koch-Institute, Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Sally Baylis, Paul-Ehrlich-Institute, Langen
  • Prof. Steve Goodman, The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Prof. Jörg Jores, Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
  • Prof. Jörg Ganzhorn, Institute of Zoology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • Prof. Simone Sommer, Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
  • Prof. Ulrich Wernery, Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Dubai, UAE


A current list of all publications can be found in the pubmed-Liste or on

Google Scholar.