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The Chicken’s Defenses

German Research Foundation Approves Funding for New Research Group to Investigate the Immune System in Chickens

№ 076/2021 from May 03, 2021

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved funding for a new international Research Unit in veterinary medicine with participation by Freie Universität Berlin. The aim of the Research Unit entitled “ImmunoChick – Analysis of the avian immune response in the context of infections” is to gain a better understanding of the immune system of chicks and to use this knowledge for the development of new vaccines and for the improvement of animal health. The Research Unit consists of five German research institutes and one British research institute. The researchers are scientists from the fields of immunology and infectious disease medicine who contribute their expertise in viral, bacterial, and parasitic infectious diseases in chickens. The Research Unit is being funded with more than three million euros. The first funding period will run through July 2025.

The Research Unit examines various infectious diseases: viral diseases (Marek’s disease, infectious bursal disease), bacterial (salmonella) diseases, and parasitic (coccidia) diseases. The researchers will use existing and newly established genetic methods for the chicken and for the pathogens in order to be able to analyze the interaction between host and pathogen. Prof. Dr. Benedikt Kaufer from Freie Universität Berlin leads the Research Unit. He points out, “The approval of the research group by the DFG underlines the relevance of research on chickens as the world’s most important protein source of animal origin and as a host of serious zoonotic diseases.” The participating institutions are Freie Universität, LMU Munich, TU Munich, the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut in Jena, and the University of Edinburgh.


Prof. Benedikt Kaufer, Ph.D., Lichtenberg Professor, Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Institute of Virology, Email: b.kaufer@fu-berlin.de