Christian Drosten

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Christian Heinrich Maria Drosten (born 1972) is a German virologist whose research focus is on novel viruses (emergent viruses). During the 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic, Drosten came to national prominence as an expert on the implications and actions required to combat the outbreak in Germany.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

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. In 2017, he accepted a call to the Charité in Berlin, where he heads the Institute of Virology.[3]

2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic[edit]

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, which was quickly accepted by the WHO who sent test kits to affected regions.[4]

During the 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic, Drosten was called by The Guardian as "the [German] country's real face of the coronavirus crisis", who 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 [de], head of the State's Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, in consulting to German federal and state authorities.[1]


Drosten is 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 in 2003. 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.[5] Among others, this was honoured by the journal Nature.[6]

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

For the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which first appeared in December 2019, the research group led by Drosten developed a test that was made available worldwide in mid-January 2020.[7] The group also published the sequenced genome from samples obtained in Germany. In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Drosten advises politicians and authorities and gets invited as an expert in the media, among others in the podcast Das Coronavirus-Update mit Christian Drosten (English: The coronavirus update with Christian Drosten), published daily during the week since 26 February 2020 in Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR).[8][9][10]

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.[8]


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.[11]

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 Federal Cross of Merit.

Other activities[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Henley, Jon (2020-03-22). "Coronavirus: meet the scientists who are now household names". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
  2. ^ Bartsch, Matthias; Buse, Uwe; Eberle, Lukas; Fahrion, Georg; Friedmann, Jan; Grolle, Johann; Hackenbroch, Veronika; Hujer, Marc; Müller, Martin U.; Schaap, Fritz (2020-02-21). "Gerät Covid-19 außer Kontrolle? Neue Erkenntnisse zum Coronavirus". Der Spiegel (in German). Archived from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-04.
  3. ^ "Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten" (in German). Institut für Virologie der Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Archived from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  4. ^ Sheridan, Cormac (2020-02-21) [2020-02-19]. "Coronavirus and the race to distribute reliable diagnostics - International teams worked at speed to make tests for the virus available in record time". Nature Biotechnology. Dublin, Ireland: Nature Research. doi:10.1038/d41587-020-00002-2. eISSN 1546-1696. Archived from the original on 2020-03-26. Retrieved 2020-03-29.
  5. ^ Drosten, Christian; Günther, Stephan; Preiser, Wolfgang; van der Werf, Sylvie; Brodt, Hans-Reinhard; Becker, Stephan; Rabenau, Holger F.; Panning, Marcus; Kolesnikova, Larissa; Fouchier, Ron A. M.; Berger, Annemarie; Burguière, Ana-Maria; Cinatl, Jindrich; Eickmann, Markus; Escriou, Nicolas; Grywna, Klaus; Kramme, Stefanie; Manuguerra, Jean-Claude; Müller, Stefanie; Rickerts, Volker; Stürmer, Martin; Vieth, Simon; Klenk, Hans-Dieter; Osterhaus, Albertus "Albert" Dominicus Marcellinus Erasmus; Schmitz, Herbert; Doerr, Hans Wilhelm (2003). "Identification of a novel coronavirus in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome" (PDF). The New England Journal of Medicine. Massachusetts Medical Society. 348 (20): 1967–1976. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa030747. PMID 12690091. pasteur-00167033. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  6. ^ Abbott, Alison (2003). "SARS testing: First past the post". Nature. 423: 114. doi:10.1038/423114a.
  7. ^ Kastilan, Sonja (2020-02-02). "Das neue Coronavirus - Was uns erwartet". Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (Interview with Christian Drosten). Wissenschaft: Medizin & Ernährung (in German) (5). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH. p. 53. Archived from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-16. [1]
  8. ^ a b Albrecht, Harro (2020-02-07) [2020-02-05]. "Christian Drosten: Der Informant". DIE ZEIT (in German). Vol. 2020 no. 7. Hamburg, Germany: Zeitverlag Gerd Bucerius GmbH & Co. KG. Archived from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-02-07.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Gasteiger, Carolin (2020-03-13). "Virologe Christian Drosten: Corona-Aufklärer der Nation". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  11. ^ "Virologen des Tropeninstituts erhalten Preis der Werner Otto Stiftung - Identifizierung des SARS-Coronavirus gewürdigt" (press release) (in German). Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin. 2003-12-04. Archived from the original on 2020-03-16. Retrieved 2020-03-14.
  12. ^ "About - Leadership - Scientific Committee". World Health Summit. 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-03-23. Retrieved 2020-03-23.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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