Christian Drosten

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Christian Drosten
BornChristian Heinrich Maria Drosten  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
12 June 1972  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg (age 49)
Lingen   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Education Doctor of Medicine   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Alma mater
OccupationVirologist, university teacher  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
WorksThe coronavirus update with Christian Drosten  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
  • Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2005)
  • German Radio Award (2020, )
  • Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2020, 2020)
  • University Teacher of the Year (Sandra Ciesek, 2021)
  • Heinz Oberhummer Award for Science Communication (The coronavirus update with Christian Drosten, Sandra Ciesek, Korinna Hennig, Katharina Mahrenholtz, Beke Schulmann, 2021)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Christian Heinrich Maria Drosten (German: [ˈkʁɪs.ti̯an ˈdʁɔ̩] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), born 1972 in Lingen/Emsland) is a German virologist whose research focus is on novel viruses (emergent viruses). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Drosten came to national prominence as an expert on the implications and actions required to combat the illness in Germany. [1]


Early life and education

Drosten was born in Lingen and grew up on a farm in Groß Hesepe  [ de ], Emsland. [2] After graduating from the episcopal college Gymnasium Marianum  [ de ] in Meppen, Drosten initially studied chemical engineering and biology in Dortmund and Münster. From 1994, he studied Medicine at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and completed his third state examination in May 2000. He did his doctorate at the Institute for transfusion medicine and immunohaematology of the German Red Cross (DRK) blood donation service Hessen in Frankfurt am Main. His dissertation (Dr. med.) on the establishment of a high-throughput system for testing blood donors was rated summa cum laude .


From June 2000, Drosten worked as an intern in the laboratory group of the physician Herbert Schmitz in the virology department of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) in Hamburg, where he headed the laboratory group Molecular Diagnostics and established a research program for the molecular diagnostics of tropical viral diseases. From 2007, Drosten headed the Institute of Virology at University Hospital Bonn. During this time he worked with Isabella Eckerle, who would go on to lead the department of emerging viruses at the University of Geneva. [3] In 2017, he accepted a call to the Charité in Berlin, where he heads the Institute of Virology. [4]

From 2017 until 2019, Drosten was a member of the German Ministry of Health’s International Advisory Board on Global Health, chaired by Ilona Kickbusch. [5]

Drosten is committed to the transparent distribution of scientific data and therefore, publishes in specialist journals such as Eurosurveillance , where all articles are freely available online. [6]

COVID-19 pandemic

On 23 January 2020, Drosten, along with other virologists in Europe and Hong Kong, published a workflow of a real-time PCR (RT-PCR) diagnostic test, [7] which was accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and which sent test kits to affected regions. [8]

On 19 February 2020, Drosten, along with 26 other scientists, published as a co-author of the Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of China combatting COVID-19, which declared "We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin." [9]

On 17 March 2020, Drosten was appointed to the European Commission's advisory panel on COVID-19, co-chaired by EC President Ursula von der Leyen and ECHSF Stella Kyriakides. [10] [11] On 23 March 2020, The Guardian described Drosten as "the [German] country's real face of the coronavirus crisis", and also noted that the Süddeutsche Zeitung had described Drosten as "the nation's corona-explainer-in-chief". [1] He was a counterpart to Lothar Wieler, head of the State's Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, in consulting to German federal and state authorities. [1]

Other scientific activities

Government agencies

Miscellaneous activities

Editorial boards


In 2003, Drosten was one of the co-discoverers of SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Together with Stephan Günther  [ de ], a few days after identification and before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, he succeeded in developing a diagnostic test for the newly identified virus. Drosten immediately made his findings on SARS available to the scientific community on the internet, even before his article appeared in New England Journal of Medicine in May 2003. [21] Among others, this was honoured by the journal Nature . [22]

From 2012, the research group led by Drosten also researched the Middle East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV).[ citation needed ]

In mid-January 2020, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 yielded to his method. The virus first came to light on 30 December 2019 because Li Wenliang (the Chinese ophthalmologist whistleblower who later died of the virus) forced the Chinese government to broadcast its existence the next day. On 23 January 2020, the research group led by Drosten developed a test that was made available worldwide through the journal Eurosurveillance. [7] [23] The group also published the sequenced genome from samples obtained in Germany.[ citation needed ]

In April 2020, the Drosten research group published "a detailed virological analysis of nine cases of COVID-19 that provides proof of active virus replication in tissues of the upper respiratory tract" in Nature . [24]

During the early months of the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, Drosten advised politicians and authorities and was invited as an expert in the media, among others in the podcast Das Coronavirus-Update mit Christian Drosten  [ de ] (English: The coronavirus update with Christian Drosten), initially published daily during the week since 26 February 2020 in Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), [6] [25] [26] the frequency of the podcast having been gradually reduced from April 2020 until becoming weekly from 15 June 2020. [27] Drosten now shares his spot on the Podcast with fellow virologist Sandra Ciesek with either being interviewed by a science journalist of the NDR every two weeks to keep the weekly schedule of the podcast while allowing Drosten more time to focus on his research work.


At the end of 2003, Drosten, together with Stephan Günther, was awarded a 8,000 prize by the Werner Otto Foundation for the Promotion of Medical Research for the identification of the SARS coronavirus and the establishment of a rapid diagnostic test system. [28]

In 2004, Drosten received the GlaxoSmithKline funding award for clinical infectiology, the Abbott Diagnostics Award of the European Society for Clinical Virology, the bioMérieux Diagnostics Award from the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology, and the post-doctoral award for virology from the Robert Koch Foundation  [ de ].

In 2005, he was awarded the "Verdienstkreuz am Bande" (Cross) of the Federal Cross of Merit, 2020 he received the "Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse" (Officer's Cross) for his civil service in time of COVID-19. [29]

Personal life

Drosten lives in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg and has a son born in 2017. [30] His long-time partner is also a scientist. [31] His hobby is playing the guitar. During the height of the corona crisis, the popular punk band ZSK released a song about his work, which went viral. [32]

Related Research Articles

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Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans and birds, they cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnesses in humans include some cases of the common cold, while more lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS and COVID-19. In cows and pigs they cause diarrhea, while in mice they cause hepatitis and encephalomyelitis.

EcoHealth Alliance is a US-based non-governmental organization with a stated mission of protecting people, animals, and the environment from emerging infectious diseases. The nonprofit is focused on research that aims to prevent pandemics and promote conservation in hotspot regions worldwide.

Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine

Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) in Hamburg is Germany's largest institution for tropical medicine, with a workforce of about 250 people in Hamburg. It is member of the Leibniz-Association.

GISAID Global initiative for sharing influenza virus data

GISAID is a global science initiative and primary source established in 2008 that provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. On January 10, 2020, the first whole-genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 were made available on GISAID, which enabled global responses to the pandemic, including the development of the first vaccines and diagnostic tests to detect SARS-CoV-2. GISAID facilitates genomic epidemiology and real-time surveillance to monitor the emergence of new COVID-19 viral strains across the planet.

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<i>Middle East respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus</i> species of virus

Middle East respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus (MERS-CoV), or EMC/2012 (HCoV-EMC/2012), is the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). It is a species of coronavirus which infects humans, bats, and camels. The infecting virus is an enveloped, positive-sense, single-stranded RNA virus which enters its host cell by binding to the DPP4 receptor. The species is a member of the genus Betacoronavirus and subgenus Merbecovirus.

Shi Zhengli is a Chinese virologist who researches SARS-like coronaviruses of bat origin. Shi directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). In 2017, Shi and her colleague Cui Jie discovered that the SARS coronavirus likely originated in a population of cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Xiyang Yi Ethnic Township, Yunnan. She came to prominence in the popular press as "Batwoman" during the COVID-19 pandemic for her work with bat coronaviruses. Shi was included in Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Wuhan Institute of Virology Research Institute in Wuhan, Hubei, China

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences is a research institute on virology administered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which reports to the State Council of the People's Republic of China. The institute is one of nine independent organisations in the Wuhan Branch of the CAS. Located in Jiangxia District, Wuhan, Hubei, it opened mainland China's first biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory. The institute has collaborated with the Galveston National Laboratory in the United States, the Centre International de Recherche en Infectiologie in France, and the National Microbiology Laboratory in Canada. The institute has been an active premier research center for the study of coronaviruses.

COVID-19 testing Diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 virus infection

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  25. Heine, Hannes; Spannagel, Lars (2020-03-14). "Christian Drosten ist Deutschlands einflussreichster Arzt - Was Charité-Chefvirologe Christian Drosten rät, versucht die Politik umzusetzen. Warum selbst die Bundeskanzlerin diesem Mediziner zuhört". Der Tagesspiegel . Politik (in German). Archived from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
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  27. "Corona-Podcast: Alle Folgen in der Übersicht". Norddeutscher Rundfunk. Ab dem 15. Juni beantwortet Drosten nur noch einmal in der Woche Fragen zur aktuellen Situation
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  29. " Der Bundespräsident / Veranstaltungen / Ordensverleihung "Vereint und füreinander da"".
  30. "Christian Drosten: Alter, Familie, Ausbildung des Virologen". (in German). 2021-01-19. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  31. "Plötzlich Promi: Der Virologe, über den die Welt spricht". (in German). Retrieved 2021-11-21.
  32. "Christian Drosten will mit Punk rock Band auftreten".

Further reading