Team PMI: Pathogen-Mediated Modulation of Innate Immunity

Preliminary evidence suggests that pathogenic microorganisms can exploit functional innate immunity networks of the host to aid immune evasion, and that de-regulation of those same networks might contribute to pathology in chronic inflammatory diseases. The team is interested in identifying key molecular and cellular mechanisms at the pathogen-host interface which could be exploited as potential targets for the treatment of multiple chronic inflammatory diseases.


  • Dr. Stefan Pflanz
    Director Cancer Immunology and Immune Modulation at Boehringer Ingelheim, Biberach, Germany (Industry mentor)
  • Prof. Dr. Adelheid Cerwenka
    Head of Clinical Immunomonitoring at Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany (Academic mentor)
The research of this team is kindly sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.
The research of this team is kindly sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Our Team Members

Dr. Bachir El Debs

Group Leader

Previous work
  • 2013-2017: Post-doc in pathogen-host interactions with Dr. Athanasios Typas at the EMBL-Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2011-2013: Post-doc in single-cell analysis and microfluidics with Dr. Christoph Merten at the EMBL-Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2008-2011: PhD in microfluidics with Dr.Christoph Merten in the Laboratory of Prof. Andrew Griffiths, University of Strasbourg, France

Dr. Jamie Frankish

Postdoctoral Researcher

Previous work
  • 2016-2017: PhD side project working on the characterisation of zika virus infection induced activation of innate immunity in human neuron progenitor cells, DKFZ, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2014-2017: PhD project in the German Cancer Research Center working on the characterisation of the regulation and dynamics of early viral infection and innate antiviral responses, DKFZ, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2013-2014: Masters in immunology, working on the development of phage display technology for the production of single chain antibodies (Nanobodies), TCD University, Dublin, Ireland

Dr. Benjamin Mielich-Süß

Postdoctoral Researcher

Previous work
  • 2012-2017: Ph.D. with Dr. Daniel Lopez at the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology, University of Würzburg, Germany
  • 2015: Visiting Scientist at the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
  • 2007-2012: Undergraduate Studies (B.Sc. and M.Sc.) at the University of Würzburg, Germany

Recipient of a PhD fellowship of the Graduate School of Life Science (University of Würzburg)

Mathieu Gendarme

Research Associate

Previous work
  • 2014-2017: Research Associate, Metabolism and Signaling in Cancer, BioMed X, Germany
  • 2010–2013: Master of Science in Biotechnology, European School of Biotechnology Strasbourg, France
  • 2008–2010: Bachelor degree in biology, mathematics, chemistry, University of Strasbourg, France

Anastasia Demshina

Research Assistant

Previous work
  • 2017-2019: Master of Science in Biotechnology with focus on Biomedical Science and Technology, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, Mannheim, Germany
  • 2012-2016: Bachelor of Engineering in Biotechnology, Dmitry Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia, Moscow, Russia

Björn Wienke


Previous work
  • 2018-present: Master of Science in Biotechnology, FH-Aachen, Germany
  • 2014-2017: Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology, FH-Aachen, Germany
  • 2013-2014: Technician (BTA) in Kidney Disease Research, Physiology of University Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2012-2013: Technician (BTA) in Protein Analysis in the Mass Spectrometry Unit, Dualsystems Biotech AG, Switzerland

Maria Boulougouri


Previous work
  • 2019-present: Master of Science in Molecular Biosciences , (Major Cancer Biology) at German Cancer Research center (DKFZ) and Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2015-2019: Bachelor of Science in Biosciences, Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg , Germany