Schering Stiftung


Konstantin Sparrer

Targeting autophagy to fight viral infections

Konstantin Sparrer

Targeting autophagy to fight viral infections

Viral infections are still a leading threat to human health. Vaccines prevent a few selected infections, but we still lack treatments against the vast majority of viral diseases. An agent like antibiotics, which is effective against a wide range of different bacteria, is non-existent for viruses. Nevertheless, our immune system is skillfully fighting viral infections. Autophagy, a cellular process destroying viral components, is a crucial part of our immune defenses. Viruses, however, can counteract these defenses to infect the host. Boosting autophagy should therefore strengthen our own anti-viral immune defense barriers against a wide range of viruses.

Supported by the „Young Investigator Fund for Innovative Research Ideas“ of the Schering Stiftung and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation as well as the collaborative research center 1279 “Exploration of the human peptidome” at Ulm University, the young scientist Dr. Konstantin Sparrer from Ulm University aims to identify human-derived naturally occurring peptides that boost anti-viral autophagy. These peptides will be the basis for future development of effective, broadly active anti-viral drugs. Since autophagy is also involved in neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, Dr. Sparrer expects insights from this project to be applicable to those diseases.


Konstantin Sparrer was born and raised in Munich. After graduating with a Master in Biochemistry from the University of Munich, he completed his PhD thesis in molecular virology in the lab of Prof. Karl-Klaus Conzelmann. Dr. Sparrer then joined the group of Prof. Michaela Gack as a postdoc, first at Harvard Medical School then at the University of Chicago. In January 2018 he moved back to Germany and is now a junior group leader at the Institute of Molecular Virology headed by Prof. Dr. Frank Kirchhoff and Prof. Dr. Jan Münch at Ulm University.

Young Investigator Fund 

Promotion of young researchers — Series

Start-up grants to fund promising research ideas by young scientists in the fields of biochemical, neuroscience or immunology basic research.

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