DR. MEIKE DITTMANN
Robert-Koch Postdoctoral Prize
NIAID Pathway to Independence (K99)
Christina Fleischmann Award for Young Women Investigators
The NYU Langone 2021 Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor Award
Assistant Professor, since 2016
The Dittmann lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms of how interferons inhibit viruses. The lab uses a combination of classical and molecular virology, cell biology, and immunology to study where individual interferon-stimulated genes block certain stages of viral lifecycles. Identifying specific steps targeted by the innate immune response can teach us about weak spots in virus life cycles, which may in turn inform novel strategies to develop antiviral drugs.
During her postdoc in the group of Charles M. Rice, Nobel Laureate 2020, Meike established a high-content microscopy screening platform for interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). She identified ISGs specific for glycoprotein maturation of influenza A virus, which is the latest possible step in a virus life cycle, and a novel mechanism for innate immune effectors. Another project, in collaboration with the laboratory of Sun Hur at Harvard, revealed that RIG-I and MDA5 have direct antiviral mechanisms in addition to their role as pattern recognition receptors.
Doctoral Thesis, 2007-2010
As a graduate student working in Dr. Thomas Mertens’ laboratory, Meike's main focus was the characterization of human cytomegalovirus resistance mutations. In collaboration with clinicians and bioinformaticians, she developed a web-based tool containing phenotypic information on all published human cytomegalovirus resistance mutations. The tool is now routinely used by laboratories worldwide, improving diagnostics for an individualized antiviral therapy of human cytomegalovirus infections.
In 2015, Meike was awarded the Robert Koch Postdoctoral Prize, which the Robert Koch Foundation in Berlin, Germany, bestows on the "best young scientists currently working in their fields in Germany or abroad”.
Meike and team join the NIH SARS-CoV-2 Assessment of Viral Evolution (SAVE) Program. SAVE provides a comprehensive real-time risk assessment of emerging mutations in SARS-CoV-2 that could impact transmissibility, virulence, and susceptibility to infection- or vaccine-induced immunity.