Institut für Hygiene und Mikrobiologie

    AG Schoen

    Research areas

    Work in this group comprises basic as well as applied aspects of medical microbiology. Research in basic medical microbiology focuses on the genetic basis of virulence in so called “commensal” pathogens. These are bacteria that are part of the normal human microbiome but sometimes can cause severe disease in healthy individuals. Neisseria meningitidis is a particularly prominent example in this respect. On the one hand, this genetically diverse β-proteobacterium is an exclusively human-adapted commensal that is carried in the nasopharynx of about 20% of the healthy population. On the other hand, N. meningitidis is also a ferocious pathogen that can cause life-threatening invasive meningococcal disease (IMD), and “no other infection so quickly slays” (Herrick WW 1919). In our work, we use state-of-the-art genomic and post-genomic approaches to study the  functional genomics and systems microbiology of N. meningitidis in order to better understand how genetic differences among different strains translate into virulence differences at the phenotypic level.

    Members of the team are also in charge of the routine diagnostic microbiology at the IHM. The diagnostic service comprises the entire spectrum of cultural, molecular and serological detection of bacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens isolated from a wide array of human samples along with antimicrobial susceptibility testing. In our clinical microbiology research, we thus provide expertise in diagnostic microbiology to clinical partners in several ongoing collaborative research projects.

    Current clinical and diagnostic microbiology projects

    Functional genomics and systems microbiology of Neisseria meningitidis


    Our work would not be possible without our collaborating partners:


    Prof. Dr. Jörg Vogel (Institute for Molecular Infection Biology, University of Würzburg)

    Prof. Dr. Johannes Liese (Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital of Wuerzburg)

    Prof. Dr. Dennis Tappe (Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg)




    Our work would also not be possible without the funding by:

    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) – Priority Programme SPP2141 “Much more than Defence: the Multiple Functions and Facets of CRISPR-Cas”:
    “The CRISPR/Cas system in Neisseria meningitidis and its potential role in host cell adhesion” (SCHO 1322/3-1)
    Period: 09/2018 – 08/2021
    Christoph Schoen

    Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH – HIRI Seed Grant Projektnummer 8:
    „The role of the RNA chaperone ProQ in riboregulation of meningococcal virulence“
    Period: 10/2017 – 09/2018
    Christoph Schoen

    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) – Priority Programme SPP1316 “Host-Adapted Metabolism of Bacterial Pathogens”:
    “Gene regulatory mechanisms of metabolic adaptation in Neisseria meningitidis in ex vivo infection models” (SCHO 1322/1-1)
    Period: 07/2011 – 06/2014
    Christoph Schoen

    Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) – Funding Initiative PathoGenoMik-Plus:
     “Application of comparative genomics derived knowledge for surveillance and prevention of meningococcal disease” (0313801A)
    Period: 07/2006 – 06/2010
    Christoph Schoen, Matthias Frosch