emerging viruses

BMS Guest: Dr. Cesar Muñoz-Fontela


Cesar Muñoz-Fontela, Emerging Viruses HPI HamburgWhen Dr. Cesar Muñoz-Fontela comes to work he sometimes undresses to go through several showers. He further disinfects his skin in a vacuum room. Now he is ready to squeeze himself into the "moon suit" , a pressurized capsule around the body. What for some of us sounds like a sequence from an Alien sequel, for the researchers in the biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories is a common routine. Here, they perform experiments on some of the deadliest viruses: Ebola, Lassa, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and others, to understand better how they infect us (the virulence) and how we protect ourselves (the immunity) from them. Fifteen BSL-4 laboratories exist in the world, four of them are in Germany. At the Heinrich Pette Institut in Hamburg Dr. Muñoz-Fontela leads the Emerging Viruses Junior Reserach Group .

Muñoz-Fontela is a prize-winning scientist, a great lecturer and an adventurous spirit. He readily travels to the source of viral infections, like West Africa, where he works with the blood samples of infected patients. And the "moon suit" ? Well, not there. In West African laboratories, one relies on a protective mask and the deities! ...