Main focus & Cooperations

In the following, we will give an overview of the main research focus of the research group Volk. Obviously, only part of our complete work is listed here.

Development and validation of new immunodiagnostic tests

Aim is the development and validation of new immunodiagnostic tests with special focus on cellular immunological tests.
The measurement of monocytic HLA-DR expression, for example, has been developed as a marker of immunocompetence. It is a marker of cellular immunocompetence. With the newly developed, enhanced and standardized quantification test (Quantibrite HLA-DR) the values can now internationally be compared (cooperation with Bection Dickinson).

Literature (example):
Docke WD et al. Monitoring temporary immuno-depression by flow cytometric measurement of monocytic HLA-DR expression: a multicenter standardized study. Clin Chem. 2005;51:2341-7.

The marker is useful in the intensive care - a decrease indicates an impaired immune competence of post-traumatic patients, which leads to the elevated risk of infection. The biomarker would be potentially suitable for a pre-emptive therapy.With already established sepsis, the extreme form of resistance - an "immune paralysis" - is associated with poor prognosis - without recovery of the marker, there is no survival.Even in immunosuppressed patients (transplantation, auto-immune diseases), the marker works fine for the setting of the immunosuppression in case of infectious complications.

Literature (examples):
Schefold JC et al.. A novel selective extracorporeal intervention in sepsis: immunoadsorption of endotoxin, interleukin 6, and complement-activating product 5a. Shock. 2007;28:418-25

Strohmeyer JC et al. Standardized immune monitoring for the prediction of infections after cardiopulmonary bypass surgery in risk patients. Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2003; 53:54-62

Döcke WD et al. Monocyte deactivation in septic patients: restoration by IFN-gamma treatment. Nat Med. 1997; 3:678-81.

Further cellular function tests that were developed:

  • Modification of polyclonal and antigen-induced T-lymphocyte proliferation (LTT) to detect T-cell competence and T-cell sensitization
  • Detection of viral antigen-reactive T-lymphocytes using peptide libraries (in cooperation with JPT)
  • Detection of mycobacteria-spec. T-lymphocytes (in cooperation with Milenia biotech)
  • Dip tests for the quantification of cytokines (in cooperation with Milenia biotech)
  • Functional test of T-lymphocyte cytokine secretion (in collaboration with Becton-Dickinson)

Literature (examples):

Letsch A et al.  CMV-specific central memory T cells reside in bone marrow. Eur J Immunol. 2007; 37:3063-8

Bunde T et al.  Protection from cytomegalovirus after transplantation is correlated with immediate early 1-specific CD8 T cells. J Exp Med. 2005; 201:1031-6

Kern F et al.  Analysis of CD8 T cell reactivity to cytomegalovirus using protein-spanning pools of overlapping pentadecapeptides. Eur J Immunol. 2000; 30:1676-82

Kern F et al. T-cell epitope mapping by flow cytometry. Nat Med. 1998; 4:975-89

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Monitoring of transplant patients

Aim is the identification of subgroups, which on basis of an immunological risk profile can be assigned to differentiated immunosuppression. With this, oversuppression of patients may be avoided and “weaning” protocols (CNI withdrawal, tolerance induction, etc.) may become safer.

In addition to the close cooperation with the interdisciplinary research group of the department of Nephrology (research group Transplantation Medicine) and the research group Transplantation Tolerance, there is intense involvement in the European (RISET) and American (ITN) Tolerance Network.

EU Project FP5 “Tolerance Indices” Opens external link in current
EU Project FP6 “RISET” Opens external link in current

Within this network, molecular biological immune monitoring of patient samples from liver, bone marrow or kidney transplants is performed. This involves the development and validation of new biomarkers to identify patients, who are more or less suitable for "weaning protocols", as well as the monitoring of the withdrawal.
The coordination of this work package is done by our group together with the interdisciplinary research group Transplantation Medicine (Prof. Reinke).

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Monitoring of cell-based therapies

The aim is to identify biomarkers in order to monitor cell-based therapies. This is done in close cooperation with the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT).

Cell therapies in development:

  • Adoptive T cell therapy targeting viruses / tumors (EBV, CMV, ...); involvement in the SFB-TR 36 (
  • Adoptive therapy with regulatory T cells (transplantation, autoimmunity); involvement in the SFB 650 (
  • Immunomodulatory function of stem cells and stem cell derivatives

Research database

For more details please use the Charité undefinedresearch database.

Contact IMI

Prof. MD
Hans-Dieter Volk

Andrea Gorgas

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
Institutsgebäude Süd
Föhrer Str. 15 / Südstr. 2
13353 Berlin

Postal address:
Augustenburger Platz 1

t: +49 30 450 524 062
f: +49 30 450 524 932