We would like to present to you the twelfth speaker of „The COINS 2018“ conference – Ethel-Michele de Villiers – who has actively been engaged in the identification and analyses of single-stranded circular human DNA-viruses. She is also the wife of Nobel prize laureate – Harald zur Hausen.
Ethel-Michele de Villiers was born in 1947 in Pretoria, South Africa. After finishing High School (1964) in Pretoria she studied biology at the University of Pretoria. After obtaining her D.Sc. (Pretoria) in 1980, she spent a postdoctoral period at the University of Freiburg in Germany, before returning to South Africa where she worked at the Veterinary Institute Onderstepoort. In 1984 she accepted a position at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, initially as senior scientist and since in 1992 as Head of the Division for the Identification of Human Tumorviruses. Academically she received her “Habilitation” in 1986 and was promoted to Professor in Virology at the University of Heidelberg in 1997. From 1984 to 2013 she chaired the Reference Center for Human Papillomaviruses, during the latter part of this period as International WHO Papillomavirus Reference Center. She identified and characterized a large number of novel human papillomavirus types and analyzed the role of papillomaviruses in cutaneous human malignancies. Since the year 2000 until present, she has actively been engaged in the identification and analyses of single-stranded circular human DNA-viruses (TT- or Torque Tenoviruses) and of similarly structured, but genetically very different, Bovine Meat and Milk Factors (BMMFs). She characterized four groups and demonstrated the presence of specific types in lesions of multiple sclerosis and in sera from the same patient group.