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Heinrich Kowalski
Dr. Heinrich Kowalski

Center for Medical Biochemistry (Division of Molecular Genetics)
Position: Assistant Professor

ORCID: 0000-0003-0293-9612
T +43 1 4277 61612

Further Information


Rhinovirus; RNA Virus Infections; RNA Viruses; Virus Uncoating

Research interests

Our research is dedicated to unraveling the molecular mechanisms and structural changes underlying the invasion of host cells by small RNA viruses and the role of host factors for their efficient replication, mainly using human rhinoviruses as a model. Infections by these viruses are normally restricted to the upper respiratory tract leading to the "common cold", but they are also implicated in more severe pathologies such as bronchiolitis and exacerbation of asthma upon spreading to the lung. Due to the ~160 different rhinovirus genotypes vaccination is not practical and no approved anti-rhinoviral drug is yet available. Hence, by molecularly characterizing as yet ill-defined steps in the life-cycle of these prototypic Enteroviruses we also hope to contribute to the discovery of novel drug targets.

Weare presently studying two crucial aspects for propagation of rhinoviruses: Uncoating of the RNA genome and the post-translational modification of certain rhinoviral proteins, and together with colleagues, we develop means to facilitate analysis of non-cultivatable viruses such as the C-type rhinoviruses.

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

Moecular and cell biology techniques, Biochemistry of viral proteins, propagation of viruses in human cell culture, elucidating viral infection pathways, structural analysis of viral proteins and viruses.

Selected publications

  1. Weiss, V.U. et al., 2014. Capillary Electrophoresis, Gas-Phase Electrophoretic Mobility Molecular Analysis, and Electron Microscopy: Effective Tools for Quality Assessment and Basic Rhinovirus Research. Rhinoviruses, pp.101-128. Available at:
  2. Harutyunyan, S. et al., 2014. Application of FCS in Studies of Rhinovirus Receptor Binding and Uncoating. Rhinoviruses, pp.83-100. Available at:
  3. Harutyunyan, S., Kowalski, H. & Blaas, D., 2014. The Rhinovirus Subviral A-Particle Exposes 3’-Terminal Sequences of Its Genomic RNA. Journal of Virology, 88(11), pp.6307–6317. Available at:
  4. Harutyunyan, S. et al., 2013. Viral Uncoating Is Directional: Exit of the Genomic RNA in a Common Cold Virus Starts with the Poly-(A) Tail at the 3′-End F. A. Rey, ed. PLoS Pathogens, 9(4), p.e1003270. Available at:
  5. Birner, P. et al., 2001. Lymphatic microvessel density as a novel prognostic factor in early-stage invasive cervical cancer. International Journal of Cancer, 95(1), pp.29-33. Available at:<29::AID-IJC1005>3.0.CO;2-W.