Fabian Schmidt

Host Pathogen Interactions: Structural Biology of Host-Pathogen

The objective of the Host Pathogen Interactions: Structural Biology of Host-Pathogen core group is to initiate collaborative projects that address challenges related to infectious diseases in the Kingdom and the region. This, to discover novel and efficient ways to diagnose and treat infectious diseases, taking into account the particularity of the Saudi population and environment. A particular aspect of this core group is the study with advanced structural biology tool the molecular interactions of pathogen-host.

Fabian Schmidt

Host Pathogen Interactions: Structural Biology of Host-Pathogen — Core group

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Research Interests

I am fascinated by the power of viral adaptation and view 'Virus Learning' as a biological analogue to ‘Machine Learning’. Moreover, I am certain that by synergizing these two approaches in automatic processing pipelines, revolutionary improvements can be made at the intersection of synthetic biology and biomedical sciences. 

At KAUST, my team will start by tackling a major bottleneck that flaws the manufacturing of viral gene therapy vector productions. These vectors are key to accessing cell types and organs in the human body for medical interventions. Yet, manufacturing remains difficult and inefficient even for the most commonly used vector format: Adeno-associated virus vectors (AAVs). 

Using synthetic biology approaches, we will work on innovative and scalable platforms that address these shortcomings.

Selected Publications

Schmidt F, Muecksch F, Weisblum Y, Da Silva J, Bednarski E, Cho A, Wang Z, Gaebler C, Caskey M, Nussenzweig MC, Hatziioannou T, Bieniasz PD. Plasma neutralization of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant. New England Journal of Medicine 2021  

Schmidt F, Weisblum Y, Rutkowska M, Poston D, Da Silva J, Zhang F, Bednarski E, Cho A, Schaefer-Babajew DJ, Gaebler C, Caskey M, Nussenzweig MC, Hatziioannou T, Bieniasz PD. High genetic barrier to SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal neutralizing antibody escape. Nature 2021

Wang Z, Schmidt F, Weisblum Y, Muecksch F, Barnes CO, Finkin S, Schaefer-Babajew D, Cipolla M, Gaebler C, Lieberman JA, Oliveira TY, Yang Z, Abernathy ME, Huey-Tubman KE, Hurley A, Turroja M, West KA, Gordon K, Millard KG, Ramos V, Da Silva J, Xu J, Colbert RA, Patel R, Dizon J, Unson-O’Brien C, Shimeliovich I, Gazumyan A, Caskey M, Bjorkman PJ, Casellas R, Hatziioannou T, Bieniasz PD, Nussenzweig MC. mRNA vaccine-elicited antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and circulating variants. Nature 2021

Schmidt F., Weisblum Y., Muecksch F., Hoffmann H.-H., Michailidis E., Lorenzi J. C. C., Mendoza P., Rutkowska M., Bednarski E., Gaebler C., Agudelo M., Cho A., Wang Z., Gazumyan A., Cipolla M., Caskey M., Robbiani D. F., Nussenzweig M. C., Rice C. M., Hatziioannou T., & Bieniasz P. D.. Measuring SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody activity using pseudotyped and chimeric viruses. Journal of Experimental Medicine 2020

Weisblum Y., Schmidt F., Zhang F., DaSilva J., Poston D., Lorenzi J. C., Muecksch F., Rutkowska M., Hoffmann H.-H., Michailidis E., Gaebler C., Agudelo M., Cho A., Wang Z., Gazumyan A., Cipolla M., Luchsinger L., Hillyer C. D., Caskey M., Robbiani D. F., Rice C. M., Nussenzweig M. C., Hatziioannou T., & Bieniasz P. D.. Escape from neutralizing antibodies by SARS-CoV-2 spike protein variants. eLife 2020

Schmidt F., Keele B. F., Prete G. Q. D., Voronin D., Fennessey C. M., Soll S., Kane M., Raymond A., Gifford R. J., KewalRamani V., Lifson J. D., Bieniasz P. D., & Hatziioannou T.. Derivation of simian tropic HIV-1 infectious clone reveals virus adaptation to a new host. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 2019


  • Ph.D. Virology, Cambridge University, UK, 2014
  • German Diplom in Biology, Universität Bielefeld, Germany, 2007

Funded projects

Mitigation of COVID-19 through repurposing FDA-approved drugs targeting SARS-CoV-2 Envelope (E) protein Ion Channels (ICs)

KAUST PI(s): Takashi Gojobori Collaboration Partner(s): N/A Collaborative Institution: N/A

COVIDOMICS-KSA: towards a better understanding of the Covid-19 in the KSA, monitoring viral and host genotypes of interest and their roles in the virus-host arms race

KAUST PI(s): Arnab Pain Collaboration Partner(s): Takashi Gojobori, Paula Moraga Collaborative Institution: N/A