Group leader

Melanie Schirmer is an Emmy Noether Group leader at the ZIEL – Institute for Food and Health. The research of her lab focuses on computational microbiome research to investigate mechanisms of host-microbial interactions in human diseases. After studying mathematics at the University of Bonn (Germany), she obtained her PhD from the University of Glasgow (Scotland) looking at fine-scale variation in next-generation sequencing data to distinguish natural variation (i.e. single-nucleotide polymorphisms) from errors and biases in the sequencing data. In 2016 she started as a postdoctoral research associate in the Xavier and Huttenhower Groups at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard & Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (USA). Her research focused on the human microbiome and the identification of microbial factors involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease and immune responses in healthy individuals. She continued her work at the Broad Institute as a Computational Scientist until she returned to Germany at the start of 2020 to establish her own independent research group.


Daniela Wetzel is a Postdoctoral researcher in the Schirmer Lab. She studied biology and obtained her PhD in Microbiology at the University of Rostock (Germany) investigating small soluble proteins (SASPs) and germination proteases in spores of Clostridium acetobutylicum. As a PostDoc at the University Medical Center in Göttingen (Germany) in 2016, she gained expertise in the epidemiology of the gastrointestinal pathogen Clostridioides difficile, and as Postdoctoral fellow from 2017 to 2020 she investigated the impact of environmental triggers on C. difficile sporulation and physiology in the McBride Lab at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta (USA). Daniela is interested in the impact of the microbiome on human health and the role of microbial dysbiosis in gastrointestinal diseases. In the Schirmer Lab, her research focuses on the microbiome and potential mechanisms in immune-related diseases.

Tingting Zheng is a postdoc in the Schirmer lab. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology in 2011 at the University of Jinan (China). Afterwards, she worked on a project in cancer genomics for her master’s at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. In 2015, she started her doctoral degree at the University of Hong Kong in the field of computational biology to study the impact of the human microflora on host physiology. From Feb 2020 to July 2021, she continued her work in microbiome research as a postdoctoral researcher at the City University of Hong Kong where she was involved in several projects, such as employing multi-omics data to identify age-associated signatures in the human microbiome and to explore the effects of probiotics on the gut microbiota. In the Schirmer Lab, she is performing comparative genomic analyses of clinical and gut bacterial strains to identify their role in cancer and gastrointestinal diseases.

PhD Students

Shen Jin

Shen Jin is a PhD student in the Schirmer Lab. His research project focuses on understanding the influence of oral microbes on intestinal diseases. Shen obtained his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science at Beihang University, in China. Afterwards, he went to Carnegie Mellon University for his Master's in Computational Biology. Shen is interested in applying computational methods to address biological questions. He has been involved in several research projects, such as developing a deep learning model to identify sequential motifs in DNA and RNA sequences and applying statistical models to understand the sub-cellular organisation of mitochondria.


Rajinder Gupta (Postdoc)
Matthias Jung (Research Assistant)
Sarina Rezaei Shojaei (Research Internship for Master Students)

Lab photos