DFG Research Group ViroCarb in Second Funding Period

Complex sugar structures play a key role in many virus infections

The research group ViroCarb, based at the University of Lübeck and six other locations, has entered its second funding period (2019–2022) following excellent evaluation results by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in November 2018 (FOR 2327: “ViroCarb – Glycans Controlling Non-Enveloped Virus Infections”). The research group is investigating complex sugar structures that play a decisive role in numerous virus infections. The focus is on specific viruses, noroviruses, papillomaviruses, and polyomaviruses, which start the infection process by means of specific interactions with sugar structures (glycans) on the surface of host cells. The specific blocking of these sugar-virus interactions and the development of new antiviral therapies is one of the research group’s long-term objectives. The group’s funding amounts to almost three million euros.

At the University of Lübeck, the working groups of Professor Taube (Virology and Cell Biology) and Professor Peters (Institute of Chemistry and Metabolomics) are participating in the research group. Professor Peters is deputy spokesperson of the research group ViroCarb (, whose contact university is the University of Tübingen (spokesperson Professor Stehle). Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Münster, and Heidelberg make up the additional locations. The variety of locations reflects one of the group’s defining characteristics – its methodical breadth. This is the only way to successfully tackle questions in the still very new field of glycovirology. The international esteem that the research group enjoys is reflected in, among other things, the illustrious line-up of the 1st International Symposium on Glycovirology, which took place in Schöntal Monastery in May 2018 (

Within the Virocarb research group, the working groups of the Lübeck researchers, Professor Taube and Professor Peters, are focused on noroviruses. Taube’s working group are developing cell culture systems and mouse models, while Peters’ working group are investigating noroviruses with the assistance of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (see also the University of Lübeck’s press release from 20 March 2019). In this way, a link is created from the molecular level to the animal model, with the ultimate aim of enabling the development of previously unavailable antiviral medication.

Prof. Mario Schelhaas (Münster), Dr. Bärbel Blaum (Tübingen), Prof. Helge Ewers (Berlin), Prof. Thomas Peters (Lübeck), Prof. Laura Hartmann (Düsseldorf), Prof. Stefan Taube (Lübeck), Dr. Charlotte Uetrecht (Hamburg), Dr. Grant Hansman (Heidelberg), Prof. Thilo Stehle (Tübingen); from left to right; Photo: ViroCarb