Caroline Tapparel Vu obtained her PhD in Molecular Virology at the Faculty of Medicine in Geneva. After postdoctoral trainings in human genetics and bacteriology, she became group leader at the University Hospitals of Geneva in 2005 and Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Geneva since 2014. Her research is supported by the SNSF since 2010, and she has received multiple awards, including the “Prix 3R” from the University of Geneva, the “Prix Naef and Philanthropia” for in vitro research and the “Prix Leenaards” for translational medical research.
Viral infections can result in important morbidity and mortality worldwide as observed with the recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2. Respiratory infections are the leading cause of death in children under 5 years, followed by diarrheal disease and malaria. Most respiratory infections are caused by viruses, rather than bacteria. Apart from SARS-CoV-2, the predominant etiological agents of respiratory diseases are rhinovirus, influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus. Viruses are also the most frequent causes of infections of the central nervous system ahead of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Among neurotropic viruses, enteroviruses account for the majority of viral meningitis and for 10-20% of identifiable cases of viral encephalitis. Despite this burden, supportive care is the only therapeutic option against most of these pathogens. A better understanding of their pathogenesis is therefore needed to develop effective antiviral drugs and vaccines.
The aims of my laboratory are to study the pathogenesis of respiratory and neurotropic viruses in relevant model systems (with special emphasis on rhinoviruses and enteroviruses); to determine the genetic determinants of specific features such as virulence, dissemination and neurotropism; to develop innovative, effective and broad-spectrum antiviral therapies.
The Faculty of medicine of the University of Geneva Medical School (an important research institution in Switzerland) leads internationally recognized research, in partnership with the largest hospital complex in Switzerland, the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG). Over 250 research groups are divided into three main sections (fundamental, clinical and dental medicine) showing a major translational research capacity. The Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicin (MIMOL), one of the six departments leading fundamental research, studies the biology of microorganisms (parasites, fungi, bacteria and viruses), and their interactions with the infected host. The Biology-Medicine PhD school supervises and educates students who undertake a PhD thesis in life sciences within the Faculty of Medicine.