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Department of Molecular Life Sciences Urs Greber


  • Research

    Viruses carry genetic information between cells and individuals. Upon entry into cells, they unfold uncharted levels of complexity in single cells, organs and individuals.

  • Viruses

    Research in our laboratory focuses on adenoviruses and rhinoviruses, two agents causing human respiratory disease.

  • Adenoviruses

    They escape from endosomes to the cytosol, and deliver their DNA genome into the nucleus.

  • Infection

    Our overall aim is to elucidate how viruses take control over membrane and lipid functions and dynamics, cytoplasmic transport processes and metabolism to support their gene expressions, progeny formation and ultimately transmission between cells.

The Greber lab

Viruses are ubiquitous, and infect all known organisms. The Greber laboratory is deeply interested in understanding how viruses interact with cells. We are fascinated by viruses, because they are unique in biology, medicine and therapy. The Greber lab explores how viruses switch between two states - ‘passive substances’, the virus particles, and ‘active substances’, the infected cells. Virus particles carry genetic information between cells and individuals, and cause disease, or can be used in curative treatments. Occasionally, viruses have worldwide impact, and can be disruptive to countries and entire societies, for example when they spill over into the human population. Viruses coevolve and adapt with their infected cells, and thereby drive genetic change in a broad range of host phenotypes.

Our approach

The Greber lab studies human viruses and how they infect cells. Our approach explores virus-host cell interactions by system-wide profiling and perturbation of infection phenotypes, as well as molecular cell biology. The former provides hypotheses, and the latter establishes causality relationships between cellular and viral factors and infection manifestations. The group conducts wet lab experiments, and uses light microscopy and machine-learning for image analyses and mapping the cell state underlying viral infections of cultured and primary human cells, including lung organoids and inducible pluripotent stem (iPSC) cell-derived macrophages. An important aim is to better understand the cell-to-cell variability of infection phenotypes, and elucidate the mode-of-action of anti-viral compounds in a cellular context. Our studies contribute to a better understanding of how viruses break down the defense barriers of the host.


If you wish to learn more about the ongoing projects in the Greber laboratory, please inquire with the group leader:



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