Matthias J. Schnell, PhD

Contact Dr. Schnell

233 South Tenth Street
Bluemle Life Sciences Building, Room 531
Philadelphia, PA 19107-5541

(215) 503-4634
(215) 503-5393 fax


BS, MS, Biology, University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
PhD, Virology, University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim & Federal Research Center for Virus Diseases of Animals, Tuebingen, Germany


Yale University, New Haven, CT

Expertise and Research Interests

Research in our laboratory focuses on the use of rabies virus (RABV) vectors as tools, the development of RABV vaccine strain-based vectors, and the study of RABV pathogenesis.

Vaccine Development: Our laboratory uses different molecular approaches to improve vector immunogenicity and attenuate vector-associated pathogenicity, with the goal of creating safer and more potent rabies vaccines for wildlife and humans. We then perform detailed studies of these highly attenuated vaccine strain RABV constructs expressing HIV-1 or SIV genes and analyze their immunogenicity in mice and in rhesus macaques. These studies have shown encouraging results (e.g. protection an AIDS-like disease). We are also using a similar technology to develop a dual RABV/filovirus vaccine. Other approaches we are investigating include using genetically modified RABV glycoproteins as carrier for antigens of other pathogens (e.g. botulinum).

Innate AND Adaptive Immunity: Both the innate and adaptive immune responses to wild-type RABV and RABV-based vectors in the infected/immunized host play roles in viral pathogenicity and therefore are important for vaccine design. We are particularly interested in analyzing immunostimulatory molecules for use as molecular adjuvants. These adjuvant-vector combinations will initially be analyzed ex vivo utilizing dendritic cells as indicators of enhanced antigen-specific immune stimulation of our vectors.

Rabies Virus Pathogenesis: We are interested in understanding the interaction of RABV with the infected host at the molecular level. The molecular mechanism of RABV pathogenesis is only partially understood and our research analyzes the functions of different RABV proteins, the impact of their respective expression level, and their potential interactions with host proteins.