Molecular Microbiology (Virology)
Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene
University Regensburg

Ralf Wagner is Univ.-Prof. for Medical Microbiology (Virology) at the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Regensburg. His team is involved in several aspects of vaccine research, preclinical and clinical development with a major emphasis on HIV. Foremost Ralf Wagner pioneered the utilization of recombinant virus-like particles as vaccines and established the utilization of RNA and codon optimized genes (“synthetic genes”) as golden standard in vaccine design and development. Several vaccine candidates that were developed in his lab made it from the bench to the clinic, showed excellent safety profiles and supported immune signatures that were also seen in long-term non-progressing HIV infected individuals. Starting 2014, he expanded the spectrum of vaccine targets from HIV to viruses, which are endemic in lower-income countries with high fatality rates (Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus), to viruses that have the potential to cause the next pandemic (influenza- and coronaviruses) and to viruses which are associated with malignancies (HPV) or severe clinical manifestations in certain risk groups (CMV).

He is chair, co-chair and board member of several national and international public funded vaccine clusters (e.g. EU, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NIH, BMBF, Bavarian Research Foundation). Ralf Wagner is an inventor and co-inventor of several patents and patent applications and author of numerous scientific peer-reviewed publications. He further acts as a reviewer e.g. for the German Research Association (DFG), the German Ministry of Health and Education (BMBF), the European Commission as well as various foundations.

Besides his activities within the university, Ralf Wagner was the founder (1999), CEO, and Chief Scientific Officer (2000 – 2012) of GENEART AG, a previously public (Deutsche Börse Frankfurt) biotech company and now part of Thermo Fisher Inc. He was amongst the first scientists to recognize the value of designing and synthesizing genes up to genomes for different areas of biotechnology such as metabolic engineering, the development of novel antibiotics, and vaccine design. He consequently translated basic research tools into scalable technologies and a quickly emerging business in the field of Synthetic Biology. During his leadership, GENEART grew to more than 200 employees at the Regensburg site and 2 subsidiaries in Toronto (CA) and San Francisco (US). He was awarded together with GENEART – amongst others – the “Step Award” (2006), Deutscher Gründerpreis (Top 3), and the “European Biotech Award” (2008). After the acquisition of a majority share by Life Technologies Inc. in 2010, he successfully coordinated as GENEARTs Site Leader and CEO the integration process and served within the US Corporation as Vice President of Synthetic Biology (2010-2012).

Since 2013 he is – besides his academic initiatives – acting at the interface between academia and biotech, supporting the translation of ideas into scalable technologies and business and disruptive commercial products. He is co-founder of several biotech companies, consulting life science-oriented venture funds and supporting the Medical Faculty at the University of Regensburg as start-up ambassador (since 2024).