Dr. Louis Flamand presented the Koichi Yamanishi Young Investigator Award to Dr. Benedikt Kaufer

Dr. Benedikt Kaufer, PhD was awarded the Koichi Yamanishi Young Investigator Award for excellence in Basic Science at the 2017 International HHV-6 & 7 Conference. Dr. Kaufer is a molecular virologist at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany who studies both inherited chromosomally integrated HHV-6 (iciHHV-6) as well as Marek’s Disease Virus, a highly oncogenic chicken virus that, like HHV-6, integrates into the telomeres of the host chromosome.

Kaufer currently holds two grants on HHV-6 from both the NIH and the European Research Council and has made significant contributions to our understanding of the inherited chromosomally integrated HHV-6.

Past awards for Kaufer include the Robert Koch Foundation Postdoctoral Prize in virology, awarded to young scientists who have done outstanding research in infectious disease. He also won the young investigator award of the German Veterinary Medical Society.

His lab has made a number of important breakthroughs, including the development of several recombinant viruses and vaccine candidates for Marek’s Disease virus. In cooperation with Dr. Goodwin at NASA, he developed a system to generate human neural tissues, which can be used to study latency of the varicella zoster virus.

Kaufer earned his PhD in 2010 from Cornell University and then established his own laboratory at the Institute of Virology of the Freie Univeristät Berlin working on virus integration and tumorigenesis.

He has contributed a number of seminal publications on both MDV and HHV-6 and developed a mutagenesis system that facilitates the manipulation of herpesvirus genomes and is used by researchers worldwide. He recently published an important paper on inherited chromosomally integrated HHV-6 in PloS Pathogens: “The Telomeric Repeats of Human Herpesvirus 6A (HHV-6A) Are Required for Efficient Virus Integration”.

This award, given by the HHV-6 Foundation, was named in honor of Koichi Yamanishi, MD, PhD, who was the first to associate HHV-6B with roseola infantum (exanthem subitum) in 1990 and includes a small grant.