Our Research Centers

Scientists in 18 Helmholtz Centers work on a wide range of topics, such as A for astrophysics, B for biology, C for cell research, and so on. Almost 42,000 staff use the most modern scientific infrastructure, including, in particular, large-scale facilities and instrumentation, which are also open to use by members of the international scientific community. Working on behalf of the state, Helmholtz scientists pursue an ambitious goal: To make an essential contribution to solving the grand challenges which society faces.

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)

The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) investigates the causes of diseases of the nervous system and develops novel approaches to prevention, therapy and care. To facilitate a timely transfer of scientific findings into medical practice – this bridge-building concept is known as “translation” – we work in a strategic and interdisciplinary fashion. The DZNE covers the entire spectrum from clarification of molecular processes in simple organisms and brain cells to clinical studies, population studies and medical-service research.

Scientific Research on Neurodegeneration

DZNE focus is on “Neurodegeneration”; this is a pathological process that is characterised by malfunction and loss of nerve cells. In addition to the brain, the spinal marrow and the sensory organs can be affected. Neurodegeneration usually develops slowly over several years in which it can lead to dementia, trigger neurological movement disorders and massively impair health in other ways as well. Examples for this are Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), so-called ataxias and age-related macular degeneration which can lead to blindness. All of these diseases are thus far not curable, and their symptoms can only be marginally alleviated. This is because none of the current therapies acts upon causes. Moreover, we don’t know what factors affect the progress of these diseases. The role that nutrition and lifestyle play hereby is particularly unclear. Therefore, the DZNE is conducting research – from molecular biology to bedside care – on all aspects of neurodegenerative diseases.

Ten sites – one research centre  

For this purpose, the DZNE is bundling excellent expertise – distributed nationwide – within a single research organization. Currently there are more about 1,100 employees active at the DZNE. They collaborate at our ten sites - Berlin, Bonn, Dresden, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Munich, Rostock/Greifswald, Tübingen, Ulm and Witten – closely with universities, university clinics and non-university facilities. All of these activities are strategically coordinated. In this manner a critical mass of specialists comes together, which enables target-oriented research on new options for treatment. Partnerships exist with industry, with patient organisations and with research facilities throughout the world. 


With their new buildings at almost every site and cutting-edge research infrastructure, the DZNE is an international centre of attraction for the best minds. Currently, about 50 different nationalities are represented at the DZNE. More than 30 percent of our scientists come from foreign countries.

Promotion of junior scientists

In collaboration with their university partners, the DZNE is promoting young researchers. Tenure-track programmes support them in setting up a scientific career.

The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)


    • Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen
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Helmholtz annual report 2020

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