HZI appoints Fabian Leendertz as founding director of the Helmholtz Institute for One Health

A new location of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research is being built in Greifswald

The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) has appointed PD Dr Fabian Leendertz as founding director of the Helmholtz Institute for One Health (HIOH) in Greifswald on 26 May 2021. At the same time, he accepted his appointment to a W3 professorship for One Health at the University of Greifswald and is expected to become a university professor on 1 August 2021. As another site of the HZI, the HIOH will in future cooperate closely with the University of Greifswald, Greifswald University Hospital and the Friedrich Loeffler Institute. One Health involves interdisciplinary research at the interface of human health, animal health and the environment.

Fabian Leendertz was previously head of the research group “Epidemiology of Highly Pathogenic Microorganisms” at the Robert Koch Institute. As director of the HIOH, Leendertz will first dedicate himself to developing a research concept for the HIOH, which will be reviewed by an international panel in late autumn. At the same time, he will set up his research department in Greifswald with a focus on human-animal contacts and zoonosis. “Establishing the Helmholtz Institute for One Health is an enormous asset for the Helmholtz Association. Interdisciplinary, systemic and solution-oriented research in particular is a central guiding principle for us, also in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is further strengthened by establishing the HIOH. This is the only way we can successfully meet the great challenges of our time,” says Prof Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association.

Furthermore, there are plans to build a new institute building on the Beitzplatz campus. The Federal Government and the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern have provided funding for this.

Prof Dirk Heinz, Scientific Director of the HZI, says: “We are delighted to have Fabian Leendertz, one of the world’s leading One Health experts, as the founding director of the HIOH. In light of the zoonotic COVID-19 pandemic, the institute will greatly strengthen our research portfolio.” Otmar D. Wiestler adds: “Fabian Leendertz is an outstanding scientist whose dedication will enable an excellent research environment at the highest international level at the Helmholtz Institute for One Health.”

“Establishing the HIOH is a big step for Greifswald as a research location,” says Prof Katharina Riedel, Rector of the University of Greifswald. “As the former acting founding director, I see Fabian Leendertz’s appointment as a first, crucial step in the founding process. I am therefore very pleased to be able to pass the baton on to Fabian Leendertz.”

From 26 to 29 April 2022, the HIOH will present itself for the first time to the scientific community and the Greifswald public in the form of a conference on the topic of One Health, which will be combined with a festive event to mark the founding of the institute as well as innovative marketing activities for the institute and the scientific location of Greifswald.

Find out more about Fabian Leendertz and his research in the Portrait of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (German).