Award of the Werner Otto Prize to BNITM scientist Julie Sellau

Hamburg, 14 December 2021 - Dr Julie Sellau, scientist in the Molecular Infection Immunology group at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, today receives the Werner Otto Award, endowed with 8000€, for her outstanding contribution to knowledge on gender-specific immunology. Her award-winning work was published in the renowned journal Nature Communications in July 2020.

Julie Sellau after receiving the Werner Otto Award. She beams at the honour.
©Norbert Weidemann

Research on gender differences in infectious immunology is in its infancy. While men are more susceptible to infectious diseases, women are more prone to chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases. In order to create better treatment options, it is important to clarify the causes.

The Lotter working group, in which Ms Sellau has been a researcher for four and a half years, is dedicated to precisely this question: Using the amoebic liver abscess, they showed that the male sex hormone testosterone causes certain immune cells, which are actually supposed to protect against invading pathogens, to increase inflammatory reactions in the liver. These immune cells thus contribute significantly to tissue damage. The findings of Dr. Sellau and her colleagues open up new approaches for more targeted personalised medicine.

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