Thomas Schulz, Institute of Virology, Hannover Medical School, to give KSHV Keynote at EBV-KSHV Joint Meeting

Thomas Schulz, MD, Professor and Head of the Institute of Virology, Hannover Medical School (MHH), Hannover, Germany

Prof. Schulz is head of the Institute of Virology at the Hannover Medical School in Hannover, Germany, since 2000.

Prof. T.F. Schulz, MD qualified in medicine in 1979 (Mainz University), initially trained in Internal Medicine (1979-81) and then in Medical Microbiology in Mainz (1981-1983) and Innsbruck (1983-1988). Following his ‘Habilitation’ in Innsbruck in 1986, he moved to the Institute of Cancer Research in London as a longterm EMBO Fellow (1988-90) and Clinical Research Scientist (1990-1995), where he worked on the human retroviruses HIV-1, HIV-2 and HTLV-1, and, from 1994 onwards, on KSHV/HHV8. He was appointed as full professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Liverpool in 1995, where he worked on the epidemiology and molecular biology of KSHV/HHV8. In 2000 he became Professor of Virology and Head of the Institute of Virology at Hannover Medical School. Dr. Schulz is ‘speaker’ (scientific coordinator) of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre 900 on Chronic Infections and of the Cluster of Excellence 2155 ‘RESIST’ (‘Resolving Infection Susceptibility’). He is also coordinator of the thematic area ‘Infections of the Immunocompromised Host’ of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).

Schulz lab

Main research topic

KSHV lab

Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus (KSHV), or Human Herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), is the infectious cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), an endothelial cell – derived tumour. KS occurs frequently in patients living with HIV, mostly in those that do not receive antiretroviral combination therapy, but can also occur in patients whose HIV viral load is well controlled. KS is one of the leading cause of cancer in men in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, KS can occur in other immunosuppressed individuals, in particular in transplant recipients living in KSHV-endemic countries. In East and Central Africa, endemic KS occurs in HIV-negative persons, ‘classic’ KS, a more indolent form of the disease, is a rare tumour mainly in elderly men in Mediterranean countries. In addition to these variants of KS, KSHV is also the cause of the plasma cell variant of Multicentric Castleman’s disease (MCD) and of primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), two B-cell neoplasms associated with AIDS. KSHV was discovered by Yuan Chang and Pat Moore in 1994 and is one of the seven human cancer viruses recognized by the International Agency for Research against Cancer (IARC), a WHO agency.

Like all herpesviruses, KSHV/HHV8 persists lifelong in infected individuals in a latent non-replicative state, during which no new viral progeny is produced and only a very limited set of viral genes is expressed. This latent state is found in infected B- and endothelial cells and can alternate with bursts of productive (‘lytic’) replication, which allows the production of new viral progeny and the infection of new cells or other individuals. 
The longterm aim of our research is to understand how latency functions and how it alters with productive replication. In this context, we are particularly interested in the following topics:

  • KSHV Latent Nuclear Antigen (LANA)
  • The KSHV K15 Protein
  • The role of interferon pathways during the regulation of KSHV latency
  • Development of novel antiviral compounds targeting new steps in the viral life cycle