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Dr Georgia Schäfer PhD Mol Biol (Germany)

Division of Medical Biochemistry & Structural Biology

Georgia Schafer

ICGEB Cape Town "Virology-Emerging Viruses"
EDCTP Senior Fellow 
Full Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT

Research Focus
- Characterisation of KSHV-driven pathologies and disease outcome in HIV-infected patients in South Africa.
This project is part of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP2) programme supported by the European Union (TMA2018SF-2446): Georgia Schafer - International partnerships against infectious diseases (edctp.org)
- Identification and characterization of host factors modulating early steps in HPV infection.
- The role of surfactant protein A in immunity to viral infections of the genital tract.
- Investigations into the immuno-enhancing effects of garlic and garlic organosulfur compounds in the prevention of cancer.
- Modulation of early steps in SARS-CoV2 infection.

Key Expertise: Oncogenic viruses, host-pathogen interactions, cancer biology

Selected publications:

Blumenthal MJ, Lambarey H, Chetram A, Riou C, Wilkinson RJ, Schäfer G and the HIATUS Consortium (2021) Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, but not Epstein-Barr virus, co-infection associates with coronavirus disease 2019 severity and outcome in South African patients. Front Microbiol (12):795555. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.795555

Carse S, Lang D, Katz AA and Schäfer G (2021). Exogenous Vimentin Supplementation Transiently Affects Early Steps during HPV16 Pseudovirus Infection. Viruses (13): 2471. doi: 10.3390/v13122471

Riou C, Schäfer G, du Bruyn E, Goliath RT, Stek C, Mou H, Hung D, Wilkinson KA and Wilkinson RJ (2021). Rapid, simplified whole blood-based multiparameter assay to quantify and phenotype SARS-CoV-2 specific T cells. Eur Respir J: 2100285. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00285-2021.

Carse S, Bergant M and Schäfer G (2021). Advances in Targeting HPV Infection as Potential Alternative Prophylactic Means. Int J Mol Sci 22(4):2201. doi: 10.3390/ijms22042201.

van der Meulen E, Anderton M, Blumenthal MJ and Schäfer G (2021). Cellular Receptors Involved in KSHV Infection. Viruses 13(1):118. doi: 10.3390/v13010118.

Anderton M, van der Meulen E, Blumenthal MJ and Schäfer G (2021). The Role of the Eph Receptor Family in Tumorigenesis. Cancers (Basel) 13(2):206. doi: 10.3390/cancers13020206.

Blumenthal MJ, Cornejo Castro EM, Whitby D, Katz AA and Schäfer G (2020). Evidence for altered host genetic factors in KSHV infection and KSHV-related disease development. Rev Med Virol e2160. doi: 10.1002/rmv.2160

Ujma S, Carse S, Chetty A, Horsnell W, Clark H, Madsen J, Mackay RM, Watson A, Griffiths M, Katz AA and Schäfer G (2019). Surfactant Protein A Impairs Genital HPV16 Pseudovirus Infection by Innate Immune Cell Activation in A Murine Model. Pathogens 8(4):288. doi: 10.3390/pathogens8040288

Blumenthal MJ, Schutz C, Barr D, Locketz M, Marshall V, Whitby D, Katz AA, Uldrick T, Meintjes G and Schäfer G (2019). The Contribution of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus to Mortality in Hospitalized Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patients Being Investigated for Tuberculosis in South Africa. J Infect Dis 220(5):841-851. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz180 

Kaschula CH, Tuveri R, Ngarande E, Dzobo K, Barnett C, Kusza DA, Graham LM, Katz AA, Rafudeen MS, Parker MI, Hunter R and Schäfer G (2019). The garlic compound ajoene covalently binds vimentin, disrupts the vimentin network and exerts anti-metastatic activity in cancer cells. BMC Cancer 19(1):248. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-5388-8

Blumenthal MJ, Schutz C, Meintjes G, Mohamed Z, Mendelson M, Ambler JM, Whitby D, Mackelprang RD, Carse S, Katz AA and Schäfer G (2018). EPHA2 sequence variants are associated with susceptibility to Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection and Kaposi's sarcoma prevalence in HIV-infected patients. Cancer Epidemiology 56:133-139. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2018.08.005

Schäfer G, Graham LM, Lang D, Blumenthal MJ, Bergant Marušič M and Katz AA (2017). Vimentin modulates infectious internalisation of HPV16 pseudovirions. J Virol 91(16):e00307-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00307-17

Blumenthal MJ, Ujma S, Katz AA and Schäfer G (2017). The role of diabetes type II for the development of pathogen-associated cancers in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Front Microbiol 8:2368. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02368

Ujma S, Horsnell WG, Katz AA, Clark HW and Schäfer G (2017). Non-Pulmonary Immune Functions of Surfactant Proteins A and D. J Innate Immun 9(1):3-11. doi: 10.1159/000451026

Schäfer G, Blumenthal and Katz AA (2015). Interaction of human tumour viruses with host cell surface receptors and cell entry. Viruses 7(5):2592-2617. doi: 10.3390/v7052592

Contact details:

ICGEB Cape Town (Virology - Emerging Viruses)
Room S2.27, Wernher & Beit Building South 
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Anzio Rd
Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 404 7630
Fax: +27 21 406 6061
Email: georgia.schafer@uct.ac.za
Links: https://www.icgeb.org/georgia-schafer/

Group Members:

Dr Melissa Blumenthal (Post-doctoral fellow)
Sinead Carse (PhD student)
Humaira Lambarey (PhD student)
Majahonkhe Shabangu (PhD student)
Katrin Bratl (PhD student)
Abeen Chetram (Research Technician)


A/Prof Catherine Orrell, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, IDM, UCT
Prof Robert Wilkinson, CIDRI-Africa and IDM, UCT
A/Prof Wendy Burgers, IDM and Department of Pathology, UCT
Prof Jonathan Blackburn, IDM and Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, IDM, UCT
Prof Graeme Meintjes, CIDRI-Africa, IDM and Department of Medicine, UCT
A/Prof William Horsnell, IDM and Department of Pathology, UCT
Dr Catherine Kaschula, Department of Chemistry & Polymer Science, Stellenbosch University
Dr Zainab Mohamed, Division of Radiation Oncology, Department of Medicine, UCT
Dr Inga Hitzeroth, Biopharming Research Unit, Department of MCB, UCT
A/Prof Thomas Uldrick, Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, USA
Dr Denise Whitby, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, NIH, USA
Prof Howard Clark, Department of Neonatology, University College London, UK
Dr Lawrence Banks, ICGEB Trieste, Italy
Dr Martina Bergant-Marušič, Center for Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia