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Volker ter Meulen qualified as MD in 1960. He received his post-doctoral training in virology in the USA, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. On returning to Germany in 1966 he specialised in paediatrics and was subsequently Visiting Scientist at the Wistar Institute for Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia and at the Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory in Berkeley, from 1969-1970.

In 1975 he became a full professor and Chairman of the Institute of Virology and Immunobiology at the University of Würzburg. He retired in 2002, having twice been elected Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Würzburg University. During his research career, ter Meulen worked on molecular and pathogenic aspects of viral infections in man and animals, in particular on infections of the central nervous system. Due to the recognition of his research achievements and his experience in heading a Medical Faculty, ter Meulen has on numerous occasions been invited to give policy advice on research matters to German research organisations and to state and federal ministries of science in Germany. Internationally, ter Meulen has served on a number of committees of organisations and scientific societies/unions in the area of virology and infectious diseases, covering a broad spectrum of important issues connected to human and animal pathogens.

From 2003-2010, ter Meulen was President of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Under his leadership, the Leopoldina strengthened its international commitments in different inter-academic councils and was appointed National Academy of Sciences in 2008.

From 2007-2010, he was President of the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), the association of the National Science Academies of the European Union, which is the IAP associated regional network for Europe.