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Environmental and Metabolic Diseases

We are researching the impact of the environment on our health, particularly in diabetes, obesity, allergies and lung disease.

The development of personalized solutions for the early detection, treatment or prevention of environmentally related diseases such as diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma and chronic lung disease, will pave the way for a healthier future in a rapidly changing world.

Our researchers are focused on finding and better understanding connections: What factors increase the risk of developing obesity and to what extent? What might have a protective effect on diabetes? And what secondary diseases can result? What influence do environmental stressors have on allergies, asthma and chronic lung diseases? Do protective environmental influences have a preventive effect? In the next step, we want to find better treatment options. In doing so, we work in an interdisciplinary way; looking at the smallest level of molecules and cells as well as tissues and organs up to human physiology and population-based studies.

The research program is based at Helmholtz Munich. Experts in artificial intelligence, cell programming, structural biology/drug development and bioengineering come together there. Among other things, they are working on reprogramming diseased cells, finding new active ingredients with the help of algorithms, and better understanding the causes of diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma and lung diseases, for example, and deriving possible prevention strategies from this. The links with other diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases are also being investigated to enable faster and more accurate diagnosis and more comprehensive therapy.

The Helmholtz Pioneer Campus at Helmholtz Munich plays a special role in all of this: A magnet that brings together the next generation of international talent from biomedicine with experts from engineering and computer science to produce biomaterials and artificial tissues, for example, thus synergistically linking the program's topics. In this way, it is possible to further develop results from basic research and bring them to those affected as clinical applications.


  • The research program "Environmental and Metabolic Diseases" at Helmholtz Zentrum München focuses primarily on four widespread disease patterns: Diabetes mellitus, obesity, allergies and lung diseases.
  • One focus is on causal research, from the molecular level to organs and the behavior of affected individuals.
  • These findings will be used to develop new ways of prevention and treatment.
  • This requires an interdisciplinary approach. This is implemented by the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus, among others.

Participating Centers

Helmholtz Munich

The program is subdivided into the following topics

  • Metabolic Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Molecular Targets & Therapies
  • Cell Programming & Repair
  • Computational Health
  • Bioengineering


Eleftheria Zeggini

Spokesperson Environmental and Metabolic Diseases
Helmholtz Munich

Dr. Katja Großmann

Chief Research Manager Health
Helmholtz Association

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