Prof. Dr. Christian Münz

Main Field(s) of Research, Abstract
My laboratory studies the immune control of the persistent and oncogenic Epstein Barr virus (EBV). This pathogen is carried by more than 90% of the human adult population, and primarily T cells are thought to prevent tumorigenesis in the majority of infected individuals. We are interested how this efficient immune control develops and how one might reinstate it in patients that are in danger to develop EBV associated malignancies, like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma, post-transplant lymphoprolifertive disease and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, or already carry these. In this respect we study dendritic cells (DCs), natural killer cells and T cells, both ex vivo from tissues of patients and healthy EBV carriers and in vivo in a mouse model of immunocompetent human immune system reconstitution in mice. These immune components are challenged with recombinant EBV viruses or stimulated with EBV derived vaccine candidates. Under these conditions antigen processing, effector functions of CD4+ helper T cells and immunological synapses between DCs and NK cells are studied. The goal of these investigations is to understand which components of the immune system are necessary to initiate and maintain EBV specific immune control and to develop an EBV specific vaccine to protect individuals at risk to develop EBV associated diseases.

Main Fields of Research, Keywords
Epstein Barr virus, dendritic cells, natural killer cells, T cells, antigen processing, autophagy, immunological synapse

Special Techniques and Equipment
Human immune system reconstitution in mice, primary human immune cell isolation (DCs, NK cells, T cells), T cell cloning, imaging of human immune cell interactions, imaging and analysis of antigen processing and autophagy.

Education and Training
We have training opportunities for PhD and Masters students (both UZH & ETHZ) and for candidates of the Postgraduate Course of Medicine at the University of Zurich.