Molecular Virology


Viruses infect all domains of life and have an important role in public health and evolution. We follow basic questions related to the viral biology of infection, with special focus on the envelope proteins of viruses, which they use to enter and exit cells. Therefore, we use as model systems the human pathogenic hantaviruses and also membrane-containing archaeal viruses. For hantaviruses we have provided molecular insights into its virus:cell membrane fusion mechanism and characterized the organization and dynamics of the fusion protein Gc on the viral surface. For the design of vaccine and drug candidates we also focus on protective immune responses against hantavirus, using non-replicative virus-like particles developed previously by us. Based on our experience with the fusion protein of animal-infecting hantaviruses, we have identified the fusion activity of enveloped halophilic archaeal viruses (pleolipoviruses). We expect that future mechanistic information will allow us to unveil how viruses modulate archaeal membranes in this yet poorly explored life domain.


Research Head: Nicole Tischler

Doctoral Students: Fabian Figueroa

Undergraduate Students: Gianina Alessan • Kevin Chou • Francisca Cruzat • Esteban Rodriguez

Research Assistants: Diego González-Candia

Post-doctoral Fellows: Eduardo Bignon • Nicolás Muena

Research Associate: Amelina Albornoz


National Collaborations
• Dr. Alejandro Rojas, Universidad Austral, Chile
• Dr. Fernando Torrés-Perez, Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, Chile
• Dr. Marcela Ferrés, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
• Dr. Marcelo López-Lastra & Dr Jorge Vera-Otarola, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
• Dr. Rafael Medina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

International Collaborations
• Dr. Elina Roine; Dr Juha Huiskonen, Helsinki University, Finland
• Dr. Félix Rey & Dr Pablo Guardado-Calvo, Pasteur Institut, France
• Dr. Jay Hooper, USAMRIID, USA
• Dr. Juan Reguera, AFMB, Aix-Marseille University/CNRS, France
• Dr. Kartik Chandran & Dr Rohit Jangra, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, USA
• Dr. Pierre-Yves Lozach, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany; University Claude Bernard, France
• Dr. Salvatore Chiantia, Potsdam Universität, Germany
• Dr. Susanne Erdmann, Max Planck Institut Bremen, Germany


Former PhD studentes:
• Nicolás Cifuentes-Muñoz (2006-2011). Assistant Professor at Universidad Autónoma de Chile
• Gonzalo Barriga (2009-2014). Assistant Professor at University of Chile
• Rodrigo Acuña (2009-2015). Teaching Researcher, Universidad del Desarrollo de Chile
• María Pía García (2012-2019). Regulatory affairs exports, Drag Pharma Laboratory Invetec S.A., Chile

Former Master & undergraduate students:
• Simón Vidal (2008-2009). Post-doctoral researcher at Genentech, USA
• Ana Elola (2012-2014). Director of scientific education, Co-founder of BioClass, Chile
• Fernando Villalón (2010–2011 & 2011-2014 RA). PhD student, University of Melbourne, Australia
• Anke Roder, (2009-2010). Research Specialist at Procter & Gamble, Germany
• Chantal Márquez (2012-2014). Post-doctoral researcher, Universidad de Chile
• Natalia Salazar-Quiroz (2012-2014). PhD student, University of Melbourne, Australia
• Vicente Muñoz (2014-2016). PhD student, Universidad de Chile