Mathias Hornef, M.D.
Professor for Medical Microbiology
Head, Institute of Medical Microbiology
Phone: +49 241 80 89510
The focus of our research is the interaction between commensal and pathogenic microorganisms with the mucosal innate immune system in the intestine. In particular, we are interested in the situation in the neonate host that transits from the environmentally protected and sterile situation in utero to microbial and environmental exposure after birth on ist way to establish a stable host-microbial homeostasis. This is reflected by many functional and structural differences between the neonate and adult mucosal tissue and immune system. Aim of our research is a better understanding the mutual interaction between commensal bacteria and the host, Also we aim at the identification of age-specific differences in the antimicrobial host response and susceptibility to infection with enteropathogenic microorganisms. We therefore examine important human pathogens such as Salmonella enterica, rotavirus, enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) and Listeria monocytogenes. These microorganisms cause a significant morbidity and – particularly in the pediatric population – also a significant mortality worldwide. We hope that a better understanding of the pathogenesis of microbial infection as well as the protective immune response of the host will generate new strategies to prevent and treat infection.