Matthias Willmann studied Medicine at the Georg-August-University Göttingen and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, where he obtained his medical license in 2008 and his Master of Tropical Medicine and International Health in 2011. He earned his MD for his work on the involvement of SNARE proteins in the retrograde transport from the Golgi apparatus to the endoplasmic reticulum with Hans-Dieter Söling at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen in 2008.
After a residency in Infectious Diseases at the Comprehensive Infectious Diseases Center with Peter Kern at the University of Ulm, he joined the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene (chair: Ingo Autenrieth) at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen in 2011 where he was a research group leader in “Clinical Microbiology and Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases” from 2012 onwards and where he became a Consultant in Clinical Microbiology, Virology and Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases in 2016. As a spin-off from his work, he founded the biomedical data analysis start-up DocMind Analytics. In 2015, he received the DGHM Research Award and the Rudolf-Schülke-Award. Matthias Willmann became an Assistant Professor for Healthcare associated Infections in 2016 and is now group leader in “Clinical Genomics in Healthcare associated Infections”.
Healthcare associated infections pose a major threat to modern medicine and their reduction is of a high priority. Therefore, a deeper knowledge about pathogen factors that are involved in virulence, transmission and persistence as well as antimicrobial resistance mechanisms is urgently needed to reach that goal. However, the bright spectrum of infections and underlying pathogens as well as different patient conditions hamper classical epidemiological approaches. Clinical genomics uses novel sequencing techniques that can determine whole genomes of pathogens or even a genomic overview over populations of pathogens (metagenomics). First results display an enormous genetic variety, even for members of one bacterial species that can differ in hundreds of genes and are thus significantly more divergent than humans. We aim to investigate the involvement of such divergent genetic factors in virulence, transmission and persistence within a clinical context. Such factors could be important targets for novel agents to reduce pathogenicity and transmissibility of healthcare associated pathogens, thus reducing patient mortality and spreading of bacterial organisms in the hospital. Furthermore, such factors could be used as reliable prognosis marker to improve allocation of clinical resources. Another aim of our group focuses on the genetic evolution of pathogens under antibiotic stress and the emergence of antibiotic resistance mechanisms. Understanding these processes can help to design treatment strategies that minimize the risk of antimicrobial resistance development.