Dr. Petr Chlanda has been awarded the 2023 Chica and Heinz Schaller Research Award
Dr. Petr Chalnda studied Biochemistry at Charles University in Prague. During his doctoral studies, he was introduced to electron microscopy methods which he applied to study poxvirus assembly in the laboratory of Jacomine Krijnse-Locker at EMBL Heidelberg and Marek Cyrklaff at Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried. After completing his doctorate, he joined the laboratory of John Briggs at EMBL Heidelberg where he studied influenza A virus assembly. In 2011, he moved to Bethesda, USA, where he did his post-doc with Joshua Zimmerberg at the NIH, focusing on influenza A virus-mediated membrane fusion. Since 2017, he is an independent group leader (Chica and Heinz Schaller group leader program, Department of Infectious Diseases – Virology, Heidelberg University Hospital) and a founding member of the Cryo-Electron Microscopy Network of Heidelberg University (HDcryoNet). His research group established cryo-EM at Biosafety level 2 and implemented cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy workflow, which opened the door for the structural investigation of many viruses and drives internal and external collaborations. He was among the first teams to provide molecular details of SARS-CoV-2 assembly and replication directly inside the infected cells using cellular cryo-electron tomography. This work was recognized in New York Times special edition on SARS-CoV-2 structure – The Coronavirus Unveiled as well as Rhein Neckar Zeitung or the Czech science popular journal – Vesmir. Importantly, his recent research on influenza A and Ebola viruses allowed his team to uncover mechanistic details of Ebola virus uncoating and virus-induced membrane fusion in unprecedented detail and reveal the inhibitory mechanism of interferon-inducible transmembrane protein 3. His current work focuses on unravelling the assembly and replication of SARS-CoV-2, influenza A virus and Ebola viruses at molecular resolution directly inside the cells. His next goal is to study respiratory viral infection in more relevant models such as lung tissue and organoids using high-pressure freezing and cryo-focused ion beam milling and cryo-electron tomography.