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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

    A daring e-mail took biochemist Mathias Munschauer from Mannheim to New York, to the laboratory of one of the world’s most renowned RNA researchers. Today, he is one of the most sought-after experts…

  • Health

    Physician and epidemiologist Berit Lange from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, who has just been appointed to the STIKO, talks about bringing a breath of fresh air to the committee,…

  • Health

    Josef Penninger is the new scientific director of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig. Here is an interview about his ambitious plans, and why it took a torn ligament to…

  • Health

    Currently 700,000 people die every year because of multi-resistant germs, and the trend is rising. Andreas Keller from the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) explains how…

  • 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.


Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

Inhoffenstraße 7
38124 Braunschweig

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