Leif Erik Sander

Leif Erik Sander

Leif Erik studied medicine at the Hannover Medical School and completed his clinical training as an internist and pulmonologist at Aachen University Hospital and at the Charité in Berlin. From 2008 to 2011, he trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Julie Blander at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. In 2012 he set up his lab at Charité supported by an Emmy Noether-Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG). He was appointed W2 (associate) professor at Charité in 2016. In 2022, he was promoted to full professor and chair of the Clinic of Infectious Diseases at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. He is interested in the mechanisms of vaccination and infection, with a specific interest in the earliest events of the immune response.

Sophia Brumhard Porträt

Sophia Brumhard

Sophia studied biotechnology at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and the Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. She did her bachelor’s in the virology department at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut in Langen, where her interest in research of viral infections and infectious diseases emerged. In 2018, she joined the Sander lab to write her master’s thesis. During this time, she worked together with Daniel on the permissivity of attenuated measles vaccine viruses in primary APCs. In 2020 she started her PhD and is involved in several projects concerning the role of the immune system in different severities of COVID-19. Currently, her focus is on understanding the innate immune responses to the new COVID-19 vaccine classes.


Claudia Conrad

After successfully completing my technical school training as a medical-technical laboratory assistant, I earned a diploma in food chemistry at the Humboldt University Berlin. Afterwards, I completed the second state examination as a state-certified food chemist.

Since 2012, I have been employed as a technical assistant in the Medical Department, Division of Infectiology and Pneumonology, at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and since 2018 I have been working in the Sander lab.

Philipp Georg Portrait

Philipp Georg

Philipp graduated from the University of Heidelberg with a Bachelor and Master in Biology with a Major focusing on Infectious Diseases. During his studies at the University of Heidelberg and ERASMUS exchanges at the University of Leicester, and the Karolinska Institutet he developed a key interest in the human immune system and its interaction with pathogens. He is very curious about all things vaccine related and still trying to grasp the immune system in its entirety.  In non COVID times he investigates effector functions of a non-conventional T cell population termed mucosal associated invariant T cells (MAIT) as part of the transregional SFB TR84. During the COVID-19 pandemic he investigated the roles of cytotoxic T cells in patients suffering from severe COVID-19. Part of this work was published in the journal “Cell” 2022.

Apart from science: Father, bike and gardening enthusiast.

Anna Hiller Porträt

Anna Hiller

Anna completed her studies in medicine and ‘Experimental Medicine’ at JMU Wuerzburg and was supported by the Max-Weber scholarship program. During her practical year, her curiosity for infectious diseases and vaccinology emerged.  After her graduation, she became increasingly interested in data analysis of high-throughput technologies, did training in R and Python and started studying mathematics at the TU Berlin. She joined the Sander Lab in 2020 for her MD and was accepted for a scholarship by the Manchot Foundation. She is especially interested in describing immunological processes of antigen presenting cells in response to vaccines using single-cell technologies. Her current project is focusing on the role of innate immune cells in response to different vaccine platforms in the context of Covid-19 vaccination.


William Hirst

Will graduated with a dual-major Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and German Studies at Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY, USA) and then with a Master of Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2015, he moved to Berlin and began working as a technician in the lab of Simone Reber at the Humboldt-University of Berlin. He stayed in the lab to pursue his doctorate, which focused on relating tubulin-dependent differences in microtubule dynamics between Xenopus frog species to spindle length control and characterizing parasite-specific microtubule inhibition in Plasmodium falciparum. He joined the Sander lab in 2021, where he is part of a collaborative effort to characterize T-cell responses to COVD-19 vaccination and infection.


Calvin Hon

Calvin completed his Bachelor’s in Marine Biology at the University of Portsmouth (U.K.), and graduated from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (U.K.) with a Master’s in Medical Microbiology. In 2018, he moved to Berlin to conduct his PhD project at the Department of Molecular Parasitology in Humboldt University as part of the “Research Training Group 2046: Parasite Infections: From Experimental Models To Natural Systems” graduate program. Calvin’s research primarily focused on identifying protective CD8+ T cell epitopes that contribute to whole-attenuated sporozoite-induced sterilizing immunity against Plasmodium pre-erythrocytic stages. In 2022, Calvin joined the Sander Lab where he has been involved in vaccine immunology projects including the characterization of induced immunity following COVID-19 vaccination. Outside of science, Calvin is a metal musician and loves working on audio production and content creation.

Porträt Stefanie Kasper

Stefanie Jentzsch

Steffi studied biotechnology (bachelor) in Berlin and then completed her master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Potsdam. After her studies, she started as a scientist in a laboratory for food analysis. Later, she gained her first experience there as a laboratory manager. She joined Sander Lab in November 2020 and helps with laboratory organization, orders, personnel matters and all the little other things that come up. Currently, she is assisting with lab work and organization as part of a vaccination study.


Han Le

Han works as a study physician for our clinical studies on COVID-19 and Monkeypox vaccines. As an MD, she loves acting at the intersection of research and clinical practice, bringing together the best of these two fields. She studied medicine and economics in Heidelberg/Mannheim with stops in Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, China, USA, and Egypt and was supported by several scholarships. Her special interest concerns global health and politics, having had the opportunity to gain experience at the MoH and industry. In that spirit, Han has initiated several humanitarian and social projects – the latest contribution being a transport of medical supplies to Ukraine with the Fachschaft Medizin Charité.

Jason McGowan

Jason McGowan

My name is Jason I am a PhD student  from Ireland studying innate immunology. Currently, my research is focused on the molecular mechanisms involved in the  detection of and reaction to Malaria Plasmodium infected red blood cells.

Outside the laboratory, you can find me doing urban photography around Berlin and enjoying the nice weather by the lakeside.


Parnika Mukherjee

Parnika graduated from PES Institute of Technology in Bangalore, India, with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Biotechnology. In 2014, she moved to Berlin to start her Master of Science degree in Bioinformatics at Freie Universität Berlin. After her M.Sc., she was accepted in a dual-degree PhD program between Berlin and Canberra, IRTG2290: “Crossing boundaries: Molecular interactions in malaria”. Here, she explored host-parasite interactions in malaria using publicly available experimental data sets. In 2021, Parnika joined the Sander Lab, where she works as a bioinformatician staff scientist. So far she has analysed intercellular interactions of innate immune cells and proteomics data from a COVID-19 vaccine response study in addition to transcriptomics data from innate immune sensing experiments. She is interested in further developing her skills in Bioinformatics algorithms and data analysis. Outside of work, she is interested in photography and calligraphy.


Anne-Maria Ollech

My name is Anne-Maria Ollech and in 2020, I successfully completed my training as a biological-technical assistant at the OSZ Lise Meitner. In the same year, despite the pandemic, I got the opportunity to do a 3-month internship abroad in Lund, Sweden. More specifically, I worked in the Lund Protein Production Platform (LP3) a cross-faculty expert center and user facility at Lund University where I gained my first experience. I Joint the Sander Lab 2021 for the CORONA vaccination study and have since become the main person responsible for receiving, documenting and maintaining data on incoming samples. On the side, I help in the lab wherever a helping hand is needed.

Porträt Kai Pohl

Kai Pohl

Kai studied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in Bielefeld and Hamburg spending two ERASMUS semesters at the University of Manchester, UK and at the University of Granada in Spain. He joined the Lab for his PhD in 2017 within the IRTG2290, an international research training consortium. During his PhD he also spent over a year abroad in Ian Cockburn’s lab at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Australia. Kai’s research is focused on how innate immune sensing mechanisms determine and shape adaptive immune responses, primarily in the context of Malaria vaccines. Since finishing up his PhD, he has contributed to the labs’ efforts towards characterizing immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines.

14.12.2018 - Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Klinik für Dermatologie und Allergologie. Richter Katharina

Katharina Richter

Katharina studied German Literature, Sociology and Politics at the Humboldt University Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin and Charles University Prague. She is a passionate science manager with over ten years’ experience in coordinating and managing small to large scale research activities at Berlin universities. She loves bringing together colleagues working in research and administration and finding the best solutions to make the projects work in both worlds. Katharina’s experience in having worked at a small research funding organization has helped her on working on all different kind of research grant proposals. In Leif’s lab she is taking care of administrative processes as well as budgeting. Katharina is mother of two boys; she is working on changing the perception of working mothers as well as gender concepts in general in the work field.


Pinkus Tober-Lau

Pinkus is a physician and researcher focusing on clinical cohort studies. He graduated from Charité in 2020, spending time abroad in Togo, Oman, and Gabon. In 2017 he joined the Sander and Kurth group, investigating post-treatment haemolysis in patients with malaria for his doctoral thesis. Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic he has been collaborating with the group of Prof. Markus Ralser on researching plasma proteomics in COVID-19 and, more recently, other infectious diseases including monkeypox and malaria. Furthermore, since the approval of the first COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020, he has been working on the development and implementation of cohort studies investigating their safety and immunogenicity in healthy adults and special risk populations. Building on his experience in clinical cohort studies and experimental research he is currently also involved in monkeypox and monkeypox vaccination studies at Charité, while finally also returning to his initial research interest: the role of differential disease tolerance and semi-immunity in malaria.