Karin Moelling on Implications of Past Research for Future Research
  Karin Moelling     Biography    
Recorded: 06 Jun 2006

If you ask me about what kind of applied research I can envision for my future, for the future, not mine. I would like to mention the reason I’m so interested in the siRNA field. First of all, I think the machineries are very alike, replication of retroviruses is very similar to replication, the antiviral defense machinery of SI. But, what I did six or eight years ago, I wanted to inhibit virus replication and I used a DNA, and the DNA a little oligonucleotide I put into tissue culture cell and no virus came out. And it took me many years to find out why there’s no virus coming out and I think if I’m not hurting anybody, I think this is a mechanism I would call siDNA and the machinery involved is the retrovirus replication machinery, so it’s the copy of what we know for siRNA with the antiviral defense machinery. So, I see them somehow doing similar things in different conditions and the siRNA machinery is extremely powerful for making treatment and these iDNA I’ve developed, maybe just one special case for HIV, but for that case I really think it maybe applicable. I don’t think you may be able to put it into the bloodstream, but perhaps you can treat women and put it into antiviral therapy for intercourse, sexual intercourse, so there may be applications which don’t require injections which is still difficult. So for me, I still would like to solve that problem or find an application; the problem we have already solved. It is the RNase H, in both cases, it is the RNase H in the case of siRNA, of a little modification of the enzyme, specialty for hybrid RNA-RNA, and it is the RNase H, which kills the retrovirus if I put in this DNA.

Karin Moelling currently retired professor, still affiliated with the University of Zurich and the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. She studied molecular biology at the University of Berkely, Califonia. She received her PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Virology at Tübingen in Germany. She did two post-doctoral research at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin (1973-1975), and at the Institute of Virology, University Giessen. In 1977 she received her Habilitation at the University of Giessen in Biophysics on "Replication of retroviruses".

From 1976 till 1981 she was the Head of Independent Research Group at Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, Germany, on oncogenes, proto-oncogenes, cancer and HIV. In 1993 she became the Director of Institute of Medical Virology (IMV) and Full Professor at University of Zurich in Switzerland, she held this position till 2008. Between 2008-2009 she was Fellow of Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin and between 2008-2011 she became a Group Leader, Viruses and Cancer at University of Zurich.

Her research focus on retroviruses and cancer from molecular mechanisms to drug design. She is a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. She received several awards e.g. SwissAward in 2007, 4 prices: Czerny Price, Richtzenhain Price, Meyenburg Price and Ansman Price. She was Selected as Heisenberg Fellow in German Science Foundation.