Robert Koch Gold Medal 2009
This year’s Robert Koch Gold Medal goes to Professor Volker ter Meulen.
Professor Volker ter Meulen of Würzburg University has been awarded the Robert Koch Gold Medal for his life’s work in investigating the neuronal persistence of viral infections. The virologist is one of the leading researchers in the field of viral infections of the central nervous system. These include diseases such as subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and infections caused by coronaviruses and simian immunodeficiency viruses. Through his work, Professor ter Meulen was able to show that measles viruses switch off the body’s immune defenses with glycoproteins which inhibit the formation of lymphocytes. This was a pioneering discovery because it revealed a new principle by which the immune system can be suppressed.
Following his career in university research, Professor ter Meulen became president of the renowned Leopoldina in Halle, Germany. Prior to the G8 Summit in Germany in 2007, he invited his counterparts from the participating nations and emerging economies to issue a joint declaration on climate protection. His commitment was rewarded when the Leopoldina was nominatet as Germanyâ€™s National Academy of Sciences in 2008.