Death of Professor Gerd Sutter

14 Nov 2023

The virologist at LMU’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine researched novel zoonotic pathogens and infectious diseases. He passed away on 31 October.

Professor Gerd Sutter

“With the death of Professor Gerd Sutter, we’re losing an outstanding researcher, whose dedication and groundbreaking work on zoonoses, and particularly his research into vaccines, brought him wide recognition. We will always honor his memory,” says Professor Bernd Huber, President of LMU.

Much of the LMU researcher’s work was devoted to applied infection research, searching for novel virus vaccines for prophylaxis and therapy. Sutter developed several vaccine candidates for various diseases that were approved for clinical trials. His candidates were based on modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), a harmless strain of the vaccinia virus that has been used in vaccinations for decades. In these vaccines, MVA is employed as a vector and primed with specific genetic information depending on the pathogen in question. Using this principle, Sutter developed a vaccine against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), for example, which is transmitted to humans from camels. He was also involved in the development of a new vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.

Moreover, Sutter researched other zoonotic infectious diseases such as avian influenza and West Nile fever. He was particularly committed to the one-health philosophy. One health stands for the close relationship between the health of humans, animals, and the environment. Its primary focus is on infectious diseases that can be transmitted between humans and animals, as well as antibiotic resistance. Having studied and completed his doctorate at LMU, Sutter worked as a post-doc in the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. After returning to Germany, he became the leader of a research group in the Institute of Virology at Helmholtz Munich. A veterinary specialist in microbiology and virology, he obtained his habilitation degree in virology in Munich. Before taking up the Chair of Virology at the Institute of Infection Medicine and Zoonoses at LMU, he headed up the Virology Division at the Paul Ehrlich Institute.

In the summer of 2021, the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover conferred an honorary doctorate on Sutter for his outstanding achievements in the domain of virology and vaccine research.

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