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Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Understanding infections - stopping infections

The interactions between bacterial pathogens and their hosts, on the one hand, and strategies on the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of infectious diseases, on the other, are the topics around which the work done by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig revolves.

About one-fifth of all deaths worldwide can be attributed to infectious diseases, and respective problems concerning abatement are now bigger than ever. Neither operative protective vaccinations nor effective treatments exist for many of these diseases.

Moreover, increasingly occurring antibiotic resistances, unburdened modes of transition for pathogens due to our high mobility, climate change, as well as an increasingly-old population promote the spread of infections. As a consequence of this, there are more and more epidemics every year, such as Ebola in 2014/2015 and the flu epidemic which took place this year. Unknown diseases as well are appearing more often, such as SARS, avian-flu of swine-flu, which all present great challenges to scientists and medical professionals.  

Therefore, new active ingredients and preventive drugs are needed urgently in order to tackle infectious diseases over the long-term.  

At the Helmholtz Centre responsible for infection research, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and its 1000 or so staff study the following questions:

  • How do bacteria and viruses trigger diseases?
  • How do pathogens adapt to their hosts?  
  • How does an individual’s immune system react to pathogens?
  • Why are some human beings particularly sensitive and others particularly resistant vis-à-vis infections? 
  • How can we interrupt infection processes, thereby hindering or healing diseases?   

Answers to these questions will play a part in successfully combating bacteria and viruses with new drugs and vaccines.

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI)

HZI in figures


employees (as of Dec. 31, 2020)


visiting scientist annually


595 publications were published in international, high-ranking scientific journals; including 96 high-impact publications

Research program


  • Health

    The digital software SORMAS is already used in numerous countries to manage epidemics. With the newly founded SORMAS Foundation, Pilar Hernandez and Jan Böhme want to develop the open-source project…

  • Health

    Pharmacist Mariia Nesterkina built a fast-track career in Odessa. She has since had to flee the war, swapping her lab in Ukraine for a life in Saarland where she continues to research new medications.

  • Health

    Luka Cicin-Sain from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research explains why Omicron is possibly a game changer, which variants we can expect in the future, and what we can do about them.

  • Earth & Environment

    The current Corona pandemic shows: Human health is related to animal health and the environment. Only by understanding this unity in terms of "One Health" we will be able to prevent future pandemics.

  • Health

    Peter Fineran knew as a small child that he wanted to become a researcher and inventor. Today, he heads a laboratory with 18 employees in New Zealand and is a guest scientist at the Helmholtz…

  • Health

    No infectious disease worldwide claims more victims than tuberculosis. It is capable of repeatedly developing new resistances against conventional therapies – and the only existing immunisation is not…


Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

Inhoffenstraße 7
38124 Braunschweig

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