Viral Immunology

“Back then, I wasn’t ill so often”: With advancing age not only the skin loses its elasticity – many organs lose their functions. So does the immune system: Defense cells do not react promptly anymore, and immunological memory is not established. As a result, we are poorly protected by vaccines and more susceptible to infections, but at the same time suffer from inflammatory disease. While the mechanisms of immune aging remain unknown, chronic viral infections are environmental factors that may accelerate the age-related changes of the immune system. Read more about how pathogens may have an impact on the real age of our immune system.


Prof Dr Luka Cicin-Sain

I have always been fascinated by the complexity of the interactions between viral pathogens and their hosts and the intellectual challenge posed in understanding the various facets of their interplay.

Luka Cicin-Sain

Born in Croatia, Luka Cicin-Sain studied medicine at the University of Rijeka, his hometown. In 1996, he received his M.D. After that he studied biomedicine and spent a year as a research fellow at the Lund university in Sweden. In 2001, he passed the Croatian state exam in human medicine in Zagreb.

While working as a physician he was fascinated with biology. Until 2004 he worked at the Max von Pettenkofer Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology in Munich. In 2004, he finished his Master of Science in biomedicine at the University of Rijeka, followed by his Ph.D. in 2006.

After a five year stay as a postdoctoral fellow and subsequently a research assistant professor at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Insitute of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, USA he came to HZI in 2010 to work as a young investigator, leading the junior research group "Immune senescence and Chronic Infections". Since July 2016, he headed the group "Immune Aging and Chronic Infections" (IMCI). Currently, he is leading the department "Viral Immunology" (VIRI). Since 2019, Cicin-Sain is Associate Professor at Hannover Medical School (MHH) and member of the Centre for Individualized Infection Medicine (CiiM), a joint venture of HZI and MHH.

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