6 March 2019

Prof. Stefan Kunz

« In our globalised world, climate change and human migration contribute to the emergence of new viruses that threaten our health. Our research studies the fundamental mechanisms controlling transmission and disease in order to identify new strategies to combat these emerging pathogenic viruses. »

Cover story of the SNSF annual report Profil 2017-2018

Prof. Stefan Kunz, 51, specialised in emerging viruses, Professor in Fundamental Virology at the UNIL Faculty of Biology and Medicine (FBM) since 2009. He is attached to the CHUV Institute of Microbiology. The projected color-enhanced transmission electron micrograph of Lassa virus particles convey mankind’s vulnerability to these new pathogens. CHUV, Lausanne, June 2017
Frozen virus samples. They have been genetically modified to reduce infection risk. The scientist of Prof. Kunz’s team studies their mechanisms in order to provide a vaccine or cure. CHUV, Lausanne, June 2017
The black rat (Rattus rattus) is a reservoir host of the Seoul Hanta virus, a hemorrhagic fever. Rats became infamous in the Middle Ages with the bubonic plague, which can be considered as one of the most deadly emerging disease. Natural Science Museum, Bern, June 2017
Electron microscopy imagery decorates the hallways of the CHUV Institute of Microbiology. CHUV, Lausanne, May 2017
Surveillance camera still of Dr. Sylvia Rothenberger and Ms Giulia Torriani, Ph.D student with Prof. Kunz inside a BSL3 (Biohazard security level 3 lab). Spiez Laboratory runs the only high-security biosafety laboratory in Switzerland with BSL4 capacity/facilities, where scientists can experiment with real Ebola and Lassa virus. Spiez Laboratory, Spiez, June 2017
Dr. Sylvia Rothenberger holds cell samples containing serum of Ebola virus survivors. What feature made them survive will help the scientist to search for a vaccine. In this assay only the serum of the Ebola patients is used, not the live virus. That's why she wears only normal gloves. Spiez Laboratory, Spiez, June 2017
Dr. Olivier Engler, head of Virology at the Spiez Laboratory preparing himself for a mock up BSL4 photoshoot. The risk for laboratory specialists working with highly pathogenic agents is minimised through rigorous training and adherence to stringent safety protocols and standard operating procedures. They will be trained by Dr. Engler in this pathogen-free training lab. Spiez Laboratory, Spiez, June 2017
Huge tanks of disinfectant and acid used to neutralise infectious pathogens in the basement of the biohazard facility. Spiez Laboratory, Spiez, June 2017
The technical floor of the ABC lab Spiez is extremely complex. The air flows through a vast array of filters before is can reach the outside. Spiez Laboratory, Spiez, June 2017
Dr. Olivier Engler is the head of Virology at the Spiez Laboratory. He is in the BSL4 training lab, identical to the real BSL4 labs where actual viruses are manipulated. Spiez Laboratory, Spiez, June 2017