Our Leadership

Hildegund Ertl, M.D.

Hildegund Ertl, M.D.

Scientific Founder

Dr. Hildegund Ertl, Professor in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center at The Wistar Institute and the Scientific Founder of Virion Therapeutics, LLC. Dr. Ertl is currently a Professor, Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center at The Wistar Institute Vaccine Center, Philadelphia, PA. Her current research interests fall into vaccines for chronic viral infections (including hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV) , rabies, SARS-CoV2)), as well as cancers.

The Ertl laboratory has pioneered numerous patented technologies to create new vaccines.Since adenovirus infections are common in people, most would be immune to them and a vaccine created from a human adenovirus might not be potent enough to prevent infection. To circumvent this issue, Dr. Ertl’s team uses chimpanzee adenoviruses, against which humans do not have immunity. In fact, it is Dr. Ertl’s chimpanzee vector technology that is used by others, including for one of the approved COVID vaccines in use in over 90 countries around the world.

Much of Dr. Ertl’s laboratory’s efforts initiated from their work on developing a new preventive vaccine for rabies – a disease that retains a disastrous presence in places across the globe. It was this foundational work that is part of the proprietary technologies that can be applied to combating other viruses. It has also expanded to include therapeutic vaccines for certain cancers.

Dr. Ertl came to The Wistar Institute as Associate Professor in 1987. A native of Euskirchen, Germany, she received her medical degree from the University of Göttingen. While in medical school, she began her scientific training as a student at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine. After research fellowships at the Australian National University and the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ertl joined the faculty of Harvard University before transitioning to Wistar. She became a full professor at Wistar in 1996 and holds professorships at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Ertl is a global leader, for her decades of research as an immunologist and vaccine developer and has had – or continues to have – pivotal roles with international organizations such as the HVTN, ASGCT, and WHO.

Click here for an interview with Dr. Hildegund Ertl, Scientific Founder of Virion Therapeutics, LLC, and a Professor in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center at The Wistar Institute, about her research interests in immunology and vaccines and her achievements towards the scientific advancement for treating cancer and infectious disease.