Prof. Dr. Rita Gerardy-Schahn

My Research Interest in RESIST

“Cells from the outside are sugar”. This is a standing rule for which exceptions do not exist. Linked to lipids and proteins at cell surfaces, sugars (glycans) form the outermost front of cells, the glycocalyx, a structure destined to mediate cellular communication in all living systems and, of relevance in RESIST, a structure essentially involved in the control of immune and (by all likelihood 100 %) infection mechanisms. Moreover, glycans present on bacterial cells and/or supplied as food substituents forage the gut microbiome and impact its composition. Finally, secreted glycan polymers form the basis of biofilm matrices used by pathogens to escape therapeutic measures. 

Together with researchers in RESIST we will introduce our molecular knowledge on glycosylation enzymes to solve questions of clinical relevance. The long term goal is to establish a rational basis for the design of drugs that would allow destruction of biofilms and prevention of pathogen adhesion – the first step in infection – to mammalian cells.

Prof. Gerardy-Schahn

Prof. Dr. Gerardy-Schahn – Curriculum Vitae

Current Position

  • 2000-2023 Full (C4) Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry; Director Institute of Clinical Biochemistry, MHH 

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Training

  • 1985 Diploma in Biochemistry, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, Germany 

  • 1989 Doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.; Supervisor Prof. Dr. med. D. Bitter-Suermann) 

  • 1997 Habilitation (Supervisor Prof. Dr. med D. Bitter-Suermann) 

Academic and Research Posts

  • 1989 – 1990 Postdoctorate, Supervisor Prof. B. Fleischer, I. Med. Klinik, Mainz University, Germany

  • 1991 – 1999 Research Follow, Institute for Medical Microbiology, MHH, Germany

  • 2000 Call Professor (C3) Biochemistry, University Hamburg; offer declined, Germany 

  • 2000 – 2004 Professor (C3), head Institute for Cellular Chemistry, MHH, Germany 

  • 2005 Call Professor (C4) Biochemistry, University Bielefeld; offer declined, Germany 

  • 2005 – 2016 Professor (C4), head Institute for Cellular Chemistry, MHH, Germany 

  • Since 2017 Professor (C4), head Institute of Clinical Biochemistry, MHH, Germany 

Other Scientific Roles

  • Since 1995 Ad Hoc Reviewer for various national and international foundations and journals 

  • 2004 – 2010 Coordinator DFG Research Unit 548

  • 2008 – 2017 Member Study Section Molecular Biology, German Research Foundation 

  • Since 2011 Editorial board member, Society for Glycobiology 

  • 2011 – 2014 Coordinator ERA-Net Neuron

  • 2014 – 2018 Board of Directors, Society for Glycobiology

  • Since 2016 Editorial board member, Journal of Biological Chemistry 

Awards and Prizes

  • 1995 Sir Hans Krebs Prize, MHH

  • 1999 SmithKline Beechem Preis

  • 2012 Federation of European Biochemical Societies, FEBS National Lecture, French Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  • 2016 Peter Gallagher Memorial Lecture; Glycomics week Griffith University, Australia 


  • Fiebig T, Keys T, Freiberger F, Romanow A, Bethe A, Berger M, Gerardy-Schahn R. WO 2015158898 A3: Means and methods for producing Neisseria meningitidis capsular polysaccharides of low dispersity. 

  • Gerardy-Schahn R, Kühnel F, Martin N, Schwarzer D. WO 2016156239 A1: Anti-tumour medicament based on adenovirus. 

Recommended Links

For further information about Prof. Gerardy-Schahn’s scientific work please check the following links:

10 Selected Publications

Martin NT, Wrede C, Niemann J, Brooks J, Schwarzer D, Kühnel F, Gerardy-Schahn R. Targeting polysialic acid- abundant cancers using oncolytic adenoviruses with fibers fused to active bacteriophage borne endosialidase. Biomaterials. 2018; 158: 86-94. 

Fiebig T, Romano MR, Oldrini D, Adamo R, Tontini M, Brogioni B, Santini L, Berger M, Costantino P, Berti F, Gerardy-Schahn R. An efficient cell free enzyme-based total synthesis of a meningococcal vaccine candidate. NPJ Vaccines 2016; 1: 16017. 

Kallolimath S, Castilho A, Strasser R, Grünwald-Gruber C, Altmann F, Strubl S, Galuska CE, Zlatina K, Galuska SP, Werner S, Thiesler H, Werneburg S, Hildebrandt H, Gerardy-Schahn R, Steinkellner H. Engineering of complex protein sialylation in plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016; 113(34): 9498-503. 

Romanow A, Keys TG, Stummeyer K, Freiberger F, Henrissat B, Gerardy-Schahn R. Dissection of hexosyl-and sialyltransferase domains in the bifunctional capsule polymerases from Neisseria meningitidis W and Y defines a new sialyltransferase family. J Bio Chem. 2014; 289(49): 33945-57. 

Keys TG, Fuchs HL, Ehrit J, Alves J, Freiberger F, Gerardy-Schahn R. Engineering the product profile of a polysialyltransferase. Nat Chem Biol. 2014; 10(6): 437-42. 

Romanow A, Haselhorst T, Stummeyer K, Claus H, Bethe A, Mühlenhoff M, Vogel U, von Itzstein M, Gerardy- Schahn R. Deleterious mutations in LRBA are associated with a syndrome of immune deficiency and autoimmunity. J Biol Chem. 2013; 288(17): 11718-30. 

Hildebrandt H, Mühlenhoff M, Oltmann-Norden I, Röckle I, Burkhardt H, Weinhold B, Gerardy-Schahn R. Imbalance of neural cell adhesion molecule and polysialyltransferase alleles causes defective brain connectivity. Brain. 2009; 132(Pt 10): 2831-8. 

Eckhardt M, Gotza B, Gerardy-Schahn R. Membrane topology of the mammalian CMP-sialic acid transporter. J Biol Chem. 1999; 274(13):8779-87. 

Münster AK, Eckhardt M, Potvin B, Mühlenhoff M, Stanley P, Gerardy-Schahn R. Mammalian cytidine 5’- monophosphate N-acetylneuraminic acid synthetase: a nuclear protein with evolutionarily conserved structural motifs. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998; 95(16): 9140-5. 

Eckhardt M, Mühlenhoff M, Bethe A, Koopman J, Frosch M, Gerardy-Schahn R. Molecular characterisation of eukaryotic polysialyltransferase-1. Nature. 1995; 373(6516): 715-8. 


  Prof. Dr. Rita Gerardy-Schahn
  Institut für Klinische Biochemie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
  Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1
30625 Hannover
  +49 511 532-9802