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HPI, Digital Health Cluster, Prof. Lothar Heinz Wieler

Image: Kay Herschelmann

Professor Dr

Lothar Heinz Wieler

Acting Senator of the Section Global Health

Year of election: 2010
Section: Global Health
City: Berlin
Country: Germany
CV Lothar H. Wieler - German (PDF)
CV Lothar H. Wieler - English (PDF)


Research Priorities: Pandemics, zoonoses, antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Lothar H. Wieler is a veterinarian and microbiologist. His research focuses on pandemics and infectious diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans, known as zoonoses. In his work he particularly concentrates on infections involving multi-resistant bacteria and investigates transmission mechanisms and microevolution, as well as disease-causing factors and disease control strategies.

Zoonoses are caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses. The pathogens can be transmitted by mammals, ticks and mosquitoes, but also by milk, eggs, meat and other food items. Known zoonoses are borreliosis and early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE), both transmitted by ticks. But rabies, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), BSE and Ebola fever also belong to this group. Pandemic viruses such as influenza or SARS-CoV are also zoonose pathogens and can, for example, be transmitted by wild birds (influenza) or bats (SARS-CoV) – infections in animals and humans are closely related due to the changing lifestyles and behaviour of humans as well as changing ecosystems (One Health).

With his work, Lothar Wieler hopes to clarify how bacterial pathogens successfully infect different hosts and how pandemics can be better averted by means of preventative measures. For this purpose, zoonose pathogens are identified and decoded in terms of their microevolution. Using genome sequence analyses, in vitro methods and animal infection models in natural hosts (chickens, pigs), it is possible to identify the factors that facilitate a successful infection in the respective host and contribute to the development of resistance. The goal is to be able to identify possible outbreaks more quickly and to develop prophylactic intervention strategies.

A central challenge for Lothar Wieler and his colleagues is the increasing resistance of many pathogens. Bacteria no longer react to antibiotics, viruses no longer to antivirals – pathogens are constantly developing new mechanisms of resistance. In order to recognise and understand these processes, pathogens are cultured and genetically modified. Subsequently, it will be investigated how pathogens and medication multiply and behave in natural hosts (chickens, pigs). Due to population growth and increasing human mobility, zoonoses spread ever faster and pathogens are introduced and transmitted before produced immunity can develop. Research into zoonoses and preventative measures is therefore becoming increasingly important.


  • since 04/2023 Speaker, Digital Health Cluster and Chair, Digital Global Public Health, Hasso-Plattner-Institute for Digital Engineering gGmbH, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2015-2023 President, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 2012 Research Stay, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK
  • 1998-2015 University Professor and Executive Director, Institute for Microbiology and Epizootics, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin (FU), Berlin, Germany
  • 1997 Veterinary Specialist for Microbiology
  • 1996 Habilitation in the field of Infectious Diseases and Animal Hygiene, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, Gießen, Germany
  • 1996 Research Stay, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), University of Maryland (UMB), Baltimore, USA
  • 1990-1998 Research Assistant, Institute for Hygiene and Infectious Diseases of Animals, Justus Liebig University Gießen, Gießen, Germany
  • 1988 Doctorate, Institute for Hygiene, Medical Microbiology and Epidemiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich, Germany
  • 1987-1990 Research Assistant, Department of Pathology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
  • 1982-1985 Degree in Veterinary Medicine, FU Berlin and LMU Munich, Munich, Germany


  • since 2021 Member, COVID-19 expert advisory council, German Federal Government
  • since 2021 Provisional Senator, Section “Global Health”, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany
  • since 2020 Member, One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), and Environment Programme of the United Nations (UNEP)
  • since 2020 Member, EU COVID-19 Advisory Panel, European Union
  • 2020-2021 Chairperson, International Health Regulation Review Committee (IHR-RC), WHO
  • since 2019 Co-Chairperson, Working Group on Influenza Preparedness and Response, WHO
  • since 2018 Member, Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH), WHO
  • since 2018 Member, European Advisory Committee on Health Research (EACHR), WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • since 2017 Member, Executive Board, International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI)
  • since 2016 Guest Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Leibniz Institute of Virology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2016-2021 Senator, Section Veterinary Medicine, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany
  • since 2016 Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R)
  • since 2015 Guest Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), Hamburg, Germany
  • since 2015 Guest Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Research Center Borstel, Germany
  • since 2015 Member, Berlin Network/Center for Bioinformatics (BNZB), Germany
  • since 2015 Guest Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) Greifswald - Insel Riems, Germany
  • 2012-2015 Member, Federal Office for Civil Protection, German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI), Germany
  • 2012-2014 Chairperson, Specialist group “Zoonoses”, German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM), Germany
  • 2011-2015 Chairperson, Scientific Advisory Board, FLI Greifswald - Insel Riems, Germany
  • 2011-2020 Member, Advisory Council on Military Medicine, German Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg), Germany
  • 2009-2014 Member, Board of Directors, German Society of Veterinary Medicine (DVG), Germany
  • 2009-2014 Member, Internal Advisory Board, The National Research Platform on Zoonoses, Germany
  • 2008-2016 Elected Expert, Specialist Review Board 207 for agriculture, forestry and animal science, German Research Foundation (DFG), Germany


  • since 2020 Member, Project “Multidrug resistant invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella disease in children: The role of carriage in humans and environmental contamination in an endemic setting in Kenya”, DFG, Germany
  • 2010-2016 Speaker, International Research Training Group 1673 “Functional Molecular Infection Epidemiology”, DFG, Germany
  • since 2009 Associate Editor, Gut Pathogens
  • 2008-2014 Deputy Spokesperson, Working group “Zoonoses and infectious research”, Technology and Method Platform for Medical Research (TMF), Berlin, Germany
  • 2007-2015 Coordinator, Network “Food-borne zoonotic infections in humans” (FBI-Zoo), Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany
  • 2003-2019 Publisher, Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift, Germany

Honours and Memberships

  • 2024 Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse, Federal Republic of Germany
  • 2022 Honorary Doctorate, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, LMU, Munich, Germany
  • 2022 Wilhelm Boden Medal, District Administration, Altenkirchen District, Germany
  • 2022 Golden Needle of Honour, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 2021 Ferdinand Cohn Medal, DGHM, Germany
  • 2021 Albrecht von Graefe-Medal, Berliner Medizinische Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany
  • 2021 Honorary Doctorate, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2021 Honorary Doctorate, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hanover, Germany
  • 2016 Walter Frei Award, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • since 2010 Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany
  • 2007 Main Award, German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM), Germany
  • 1997 Young Talent Award, DVG, Germany
  • 1996 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scholarship, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), University of Maryland (UMB), Baltimore, USA




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