Prosperous Career Day organized by our students

[15.06.2023] Career Day 2023

We had great joy at our Career Day this year. In the morning, guests from various fields of work gave short presentations about their activities and their careers. After a delicious lunch, speed dating sessions gave our PhD students the opportunity to ask detailed and personal questions to our guests in a relaxed atmosphere.

Both PhDs and guests were enthusiastic about this format and the possibility of intensive exchange! We are happy that we were able to give our PhD students a better understanding of their possible job opportunities.

A big thank you to our guests:

  • Barbara Grünwald - Professor University Hospital Essen
  • Leonard Quiring - Officer for Young Scientists and Diversity, University Duisburg-Essen
  • Katharina Wetzel - Account Manager, Miltenyi Biotec
  • Janine Brinkmann - Research Associate, National Center for Health NRW
  • Dunja Baston-Büst - Reproduction Biologist, University Hospital Düsseldorf
  • Lena Johrden - Clinical Project Leader, AstraZeneca


Promoting young talent at its best

[22.05.2023] Meet the expert session with Mario Santiago

Mario Santiago from the University of Colorado in the USA, visited us as part of our Lecture Series. He gave a talk on 'Adaptive Immune Modulation by Retrovirus Restriction Factors'. As direct exchange and networking between PhD students and visiting researchers is particularly important to us, some of our PhDs had the opportunity to get in closer contact with Mario Santiago during a Meet-the-Expert session. Over delicious food and in a relaxed atmosphere, they were able to ask all the questions that were on their minds.


The cover is ours!

[10.02.2023] RTG 1949 members provide the cover for the European Journal of Immunology

A joint project on CMV infections and their impact on the intestinal microbiota with members of the GRK 1949 was published in the European Journal of Immunology and crowned with the cover page of the issue. We are very happy about this success and congratulate the participants!

"Our cover image features an organoid generated from primary intestinal crypts infected with a GFP-expressing mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV). Among other clinical manifestations, human cytomegalovirus can cause colitis. The authors set out to elucidate how acute cytomegalovirus infection alters the gut, its microbiota composition and how this influences host immunity. The image is taken from Le-Trilling and Ebel et al., where the authors document that MCMV efficiently replicates in the mouse gut early during primary infection. In this context, MCMV enters intestinal epithelial cells causing cell death. Accordingly, MCMV causes a leakage of the epithelial barrier, transiently inducing colitis in immunocompetent hosts by altering the intestinal homeostasis."


We are proud to announce a new MD!

[30.01.2023] Congratulations to our newest MD Tabea

Congratulations to Dr. Tabea Faßnacht on her successful doctoral examination (MD)! The former RTG student did her research on 'The impact of colonic Toll-like receptor 4 signaling on the development of colitis-associated colon-cancer' in the group of Astrid Westendorf and was supervised by her and Eva Pastille.

Julia Falkenstein wins poster price

[25.11.2022] Another success for the RTG 1949

At the 21st Research Day of the @medizinischefakultaet of the @uni_duisburg_essen , our PhD student Julia Falkenstein was able to convince with her research and won a poster prize.
Julia is doing her PhD in the group of Prof. Dr. Wiebke Hansen and is researching the role of different subpopulations of macrophages during malaria infection.
Congratulations Julia!

MD candidate Dani Miteva wins Wilhelm-Roux award

[17.11.2022] Huge success for RTG 1949 MD student Dani Miteva

Dani Miteva, MD student in the lab of Stefanie Flohé (Department of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery) received the “Wilhelm-Roux” award of the German Society of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery at the annual congress of the society in Berlin in 2022. The topic of the MD project of Dani Miteva is the investigation of mechanisms underlying the increased risk for opportunistic infections after femur fracture in geriatric patients. She discovered a disturbed IL-12/IFN-g axis in Natural killer cells in the trauma patients that could be ascribed not only to the ageing immune system but also to the traumatic insult.

Poster Award at the Yakult Symposium for Dr. Alexandra Adamczyk

[14.10.2022] Another award for our alumni Dr. Alexandra Adamczyk

Dr. Alexandra Adamczyk from the research group of Prof. Astrid Westendorf presented her latest research results on the influence of the gut microbiota and immune responses in colorectal cancer at this year's 10th International YAKULT Symposium in Milan. Her work was honored with a poster award.

RTG 1949 receives multiple awards at the annual meeting of the German Society for Immunology (DGfI)

[12.09.2022] Dr. Torben Knuschke and Philine Steinbach return successfully from the annual meeting of the DGfI

The working group Infection Immunology from the Institute of Medical Microbiology presented its current research work at this year's meeting of the German Society of Immunology (DGfI) in Hannover. Dr. Torben Knuschke was awarded with the AAI Bright Award for his scientific presentation on the restrictive role of the surface molecule CD47 in influenza infection. In addition, PhD student Philine Steinbach was awarded a poster prize for her investigation of the influence of influenza infection on the T cell response against tumors.

Congratulations to Alumni Dr. Alexandra Adamczyk

[10.02.2022] Alumni Dr. Alexandra Adamczyk wins the ETOS Trophy 2022

Alumni Alexandra Adamczyk was a member of the first cohort of the RTG 1949 and is now working as a PostDoc in the group of Prof. Dr. A. Westendorf at the Institute of Medical Microbiology. At the 5th Essener Translational Symposium, Alexandra won the prize for the best poster. Her poster was entitled "Beyond immunosuppression - Unravelling the complex features of tumor-associated Tregs in colon cancer".

First publication for PhD student Mara Schwerdtfeger

[20 January 2022] Congratulations to Mara Schwerdtfeger for her first publication

Mara Schwerdtfeger is doing her doctorate in the group of Kathrin Sutter/ Ulf Dittmer at the Institute of Virology of the University Hospital Essen. The paper entitled "Immunotherapy With Interferon α11, But Not Interferon Beta, Controls Persistent Retroviral Infection" was published in the journal frontiers in immunology..

Great success at the 20th Research Day of the Medical Faculty  

[09 December 2021] Congratulations to five students of the RTG 1949

At this year's Research Day of the Medical Faculty on the 19th of November, our PhD students Dani Miteva, Kai Pfeifer, Yulia Flores-Martinez, Philine Steinbach and Julia Falkenstein (f.l.t.r) successfully presented their research results. They were able to convince the jury consisting of professors and PostDocs of the Medical Faculty and prevailed against a total of 195 competitors. All five were able to win a presentation award in their group. We are very proud and congratulate our PhD/MD  students!

Dani Miteva - Department of Trauma, Hand & Reconstructive Surgery, Stefanie Flohé‘s Lab: The impact of age and trauma on the functional and metabolic state of CD56 bright NK cells.

Kai Pfeifer - Institute of Medical Microbiology, Astrid Westendorf's lab: Impact of cytomegalovirus infection on the induction and course of colitis in mice.

Yulia Flores-Martinez - Institute of Virology, Mirko Trilling's lab: Nedd8-Activating Enzyme (NAE) is an attractive target for antiviral drugs.

Philine Steinbach - Institute of Medical Microbiology, Torben Knuschke's lab: Respiratory influenza virus infection strengthens cancer specific CD8+ T cell immunity and impedes tumor growth.

Julia Falkenstein - Institute of Medical Microbiology, Wiebke Hansen's lab: Red pulp macrophages are dispensable for T cell priming, but essential for pathogen clearance during Plasmodium yoelii infection

Philine Steinbach wins the award for the best presentation at the NDI3 Online Conference

[17 November 2021] Congratulations to RTG1949 member Philine Steinbach!

The conference "New Developments in Immunology, Inflammation and Infection" (NDI3), organized by the PhD students of the Leibniz Lung Center Research Center Borstel, took place from 11-12.11.21 and focused thematically on epidemiology, host-pathogen interaction, and allergy and autoimmunity. PhD student of the RTG 1949 Philine Steinbach, who is supervised by Torben Knuschke at the Institute of Medical Microbiology at the University Hospital Essen, gave a talk on "Viral respiratory infection strengthens cancer specific CD8+ T cell immunity and facilitates tumor control." She was honored with the best oral presentation award for her talk


Infectious Diseases -

A global problem

We are happy to present the current UNIKATE edition 54 of the University of Duisburg-Essen, which focuses on infectious diseases and features research projects within our RTG. Special thanks to the RTG project leaders Torben Knuschke, Kathrin Sutter, Wiebke Hansen, Tina Senff, Jörg Timm, Alexandra Adamczyk, Astrid Westendorf and Mirko Trilling for their involvement as well as to Oliver Witzke, Benjamin Wilde and Adalbert Krawczyk from the Clinic of Infectious Diseases.

Please visit for the complete edition.

Huge success for RTG 1949 members

Forschungstag 2019 1823 Web2

Research Day 2019

​​[22 November 2019] Congratulations to Vittoria Palmieri, Hanna Abberger, Mareike Eilbrecht, and Friederike Krempe (f.l.t.r.) for winning the Poster Prize at the Research Day of the Medical Faculty in Essen.

170 PhD students participated in the 18th Research Day that took place on 22nd November 2019. On posters they presented their scientific projects to a committee consisting of professors and post docs of the Medical Faculty. 16 PhD students were awarded the Poster Prize, which is endowed with a prize money of 250 €. Four out of the 16 winners are members of our
Research Training Group 1949:

Hanna Abberger, Institute of Med. Microbiology, Wiebke Hansen's lab:
"Neuropilin-1-expressing T cells arise during Plasmodium berghei infection and promote experimental cerebral malaria pathogenesis"

Mareike Eilbrecht, Institute for Virology, Mirko Trilling's lab:
"Identification and characterization of two novel antagonists of interferon-γ signaling conserved between human and mouse cytomegalovirus"

Friederike Krempe, Institute for Virology, Mirko Trilling's lab:
"Friendly fire: human cytomegalovirus elicits a suicidal inflammatory immune response of acute myeloid leukaemia cells"

Vittoria Palmieri, Institute of Med. Microbiology, Astrid Westendorf's lab:
"The interleukin-33/ST2 axis negatively impacts host mucosal immunity and aggravates enteric bacterial infection"

Tag der Forschung

DFG confirms second funding period

[4 May 2018] Huge success: The Research Training Group (RTG) „Immune Response in Infectious Diseases – Regulation between Innate and Adaptive Immunity“ at the Medical Faculty of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) will be renewed. The German Research Foundation (DFG) will allocate over 4.5 Mio Euros for another period of 4.5 years.

The RTG was established in 2014 and targets students and young researchers of Natural Sciences and Medicine who deal with the immune system and infectious diseases. Viral, bacterial or parasitic infections are among the top ten causes of death worldwide. Effective therapies and prophylactic vaccines are available for a few pathogens only.

Prof. Dr. Astrid Westendorf, speaker of the RTG: “An interdisciplinary approach is necessary in order to investigate the interface between innate and adaptive immunity. This is why the departments of Immunology, Medical Microbiology and Virology in Essen and Düsseldorf, for example, are involved in this project.” Joint symposia and seminars facilitate the interdisciplinary exchange. “Furthermore, junior researchers get the chance to build up a network with national and international experts”, Prof. Westendorf adds.

“The positive decision of the DFG is a huge success for our junior researchers of whom we are very proud” declares the Dean of the Medical Faculty in Essen Prof. Dr. Jan Buer. “We are happy to get the chance to continue excellent junior researchers in the field of infectious diseases and immunology.”

Scientific Excellence Award

[15 May 2017] In the course of the Infection & Immunology Symposium of the Research Training Group 1949, which took place from 15 to 16 May 2017 in Kamp-Lintfort, four PhD students were awarded with the Scientific Excellence Award. The award honoured their excellent PhD studies.

The following PhD students received the award: Alexandra Adamczyk, M.Sc., Institute of Medical Microbiology, and Piyush Sharma, M.Sc., Institute of Immunology, both Medical Faculty of the University of Duisburg-Essen, as well as Dennis Lapuente, PhD, Department of Molecular and Medical Virology, Ruhr University Bochum, and Tina Senff, M.Sc., Institute of Virology, University Hospital Düsseldorf.

Preisträgerinnen Scientific Award 2017

F.l.t.r.: Tina Senff, Dennis Lapuente, Alexandra Adamczyk, Piyush Sharma


Research Training Group 1949
Immune Response in
Infectious Diseases -
Regulation between Innate
and Adaptive Immunity

Prof. Dr. Astrid Westendorf

Deputy: Prof. Dr. Jörg Timm
Deputy: Prof. Dr. Mirko Trilling

Coordination: Dr. Eva van Well

Phone: +49 201 723 35 88