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 & Research Interests

Research interest: The research interest of the laboratory is focus on two areas: 1) vaccine development and 2) viral pathogenesis.

Vaccines against emerging viral diseases: Rhabdovirus-based vectors as vaccines against other infectious diseases.

  • Rabies virus (RABV) based vaccines are promising as both live and killed vaccines against infectious disease. This is based on the finding that RABV vectors are highly immunogenic and combine a necessary vaccine with limited financial resources for development (such as several hemorrhagic fever viruses) with a safe, approved, and financially practical vaccine (rabies).
  • Using different molecular and immunological approaches, we perform detailed studies of highly attenuated RABV expressing and incorporating immunogenic proteins of emerging infectious diseases. Most advanced is the development of our filovirus (e.g. Ebola Virus (EBOV), Sudan virus (SUDV) and Marburg virus (MARV)) vaccine.  Protection studies in NHP were promising and the vaccine will enter the clinic soon.
  • In the pre-clinical phase of development are novel vaccines against Hendra virus, Nipah virus, Lassa virus, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Zika virus. Toward this approach, we study the efficacy of RABV as well as a Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-based vaccine platform against these emergent and highly pathogenic viruses. The goal is the development of this vaccine platform not only for human use but also to immunize animals to break the transmission cycle of these zoonotic diseases.  
  • Development of safer and more potent vaccines for wildlife and human rabies.
  • Development of novel vaccines against lyssaviruses (rabies-related viruses) from which the current rabies vaccine does not protect.

Viral pathogenicity: We are interested in a detailed understanding of the biochemistry, molecular biology and immunology of rabies virus and its interaction with the infected host. The molecular mechanism of rabies virus pathogenesis is not well understood and our research analyses the different functions the rhabdoviral proteins (e.g. rabies virus) and their interaction with cellular host proteins.