About the HZI

How do bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi make us sick? How does our immune system defend our body? These are the questions we at the HZI want to answer. Our goal: To set up the basis for new diagnostic tools, new active agents and new therapies against infectious diseases.

The Helmholtz Centre

Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research examine the mechanisms of infection diseases and their defences. We develop the results of basic research systematically with the emphasis on medical application. The following are included in scientific issues that we investigate:

  • What is it that transforms bacteria or viruses into pathogens?
  • Why are some individuals particularly sensitive while others are resistant to infections?
  • How can we interrupt infection processes?
  • How do we transfer our findings to application for human beings? 

For clarification of such questions, we examine pathogens that are either medically relevant or that can be used as models for the research of infections. Understanding these mechanisms then contributes to the on-going battle against infectious diseases in the form of drugs and vaccines.


It is the task of this Centre to execute bio-medical research in the domain of infection biology and its clinical application and practical implementation. The focus of research at the HZI is concentrated on the programme of infection research.

Research Budget

Sponsors for the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research are the Federal Republic of Germany (90%) and the States of Lower Saxony (9%) and Saarland (1%). The HZI receives from the Federal Government and the States a budget amounting about 72 million euros (2014) for the financing of research. Additionally, leaders for both working groups and projects procure around 16 million euros (2013) yearly third-party support from national research funding programmes, EU programmes and private industry.

Patents und Publications

Research results are sometimes registered as patents. Moreover, the HZI can lay claim to a total of about 470 publications (2013) in international, high-ranking scientific speciality magazines.

Employees and Professional sectors

The HZI currently employs around 830 employees (July 2013) from various professional sectors: biologists, biotechnologists, biochemists, chemists, physicians, laboratory workers and assistants, office personnel, animal-care technician, network specialists, craftsmen, technicians and engineers.

International research: 180 guest scientists (March 2014) from 40 countries work at HZI.

Promotion of Junior Scientists