Solemn inauguration of the "Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd"

New Life Science Campus combines expertises in health research

On 6 October 2017 the "Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd" has been solemnly inaugurated by Lower-Saxony's Minister for Science and Culture, Gabriele Heinen-Kljajić, and Braunschweig's Mayor, Ulrich Markurth. The ceremony was attended by guests from science, industry and politics and has been a highlight in Braunschweig's anniversary year "10 years City of Science" and an important milestone in the development of "Research Region Braunschweig". The future campus partners include the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), the Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, the Technische Universität Braunschweig, the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM and the Biotechnologische Schülerlabor Braunschweig (BioS). The new joint umbrella brand "Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd" is to expand the regional and Germany-wide visibility of the modern Life Science campus, promote the networking of the partnering institutions and attract new cooperation partners and young talent. In addition, with the support of the city of Braunschweig, a new signposting concept has been implemented off-campus.

Together we are stronger! This motto might aptly express the motivation of three extramural institutes, the Technische Universität and the DZIF research association, all engaged in top research recognised around the world, joining forces to be able to utilise the synergies from their cumulative expertise in research. This application-focussed research is needed, for example because of the rising resistance to antibiotics that continues to spread especially in hospitals. According to current figures, more than 700,000 people each year succumb to an infection caused by resistant pathogens. There is a realistic risk that an important pillar of our modern medicine might break away due to a lack of effective antibiotics. This might be a real detriment to otherwise harmless routine surgeries, operations on the joints, chemotherapies and the management of premature babies in the future.

For this reason, the partnering institutions – HZI, DZIF, DSMZ, Fraunhofer ITEM and the Technische Universität Braunschweig – are joining their forces, expertises and infrastructures in health research and systems biology as they aim to control infectious diseases even more rapidly and more specifically to the benefit of the patients. The name, "Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd", will stand for an important Life Science site in the "Research Region Braunschweig" and will further enhance the international competitiveness and visibility of Lower-Saxony, especially with a view to the renewed excellence initiative of federal and state governments.

"A member of the Helmholtz Association, the HZI is the largest extramural research institute doing research on infectious diseases," says Prof Dirk Heinz, who is the Scientific Director of the HZI. "At our campus in Braunschweig and our four other sites, we conduct research on bacterial and viral pathogens and their interplay with the immune system, and we are developing new anti-infective agents. Our focus in this context is on translational infection research – which means the rapid transfer of the results from basic research to clinical application." Initially, the researchers aim to understand the hazard potentials and possible weak spots of the pathogens. In parallel, they expend much effort and major resources on the study of natural agents, which are then optimised to make them suitable for use as new candidate medications. The complementary expertise and first-class infrastructures of the partners are a clear advantage of this location.

The Science Campus concentrates a wealth of knowledge, top researchers are developing collaborative plans and junior researchers are contributing novel ideas. The Science Campus will therefore get science, education, teaching and industry yet one step closer to each other and thus act as an innovative Life Science incubator.

Dirk Heinz, Scientific Director

Dr Timo Jäger, Executive Manager of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), which is a network of 35 institutes, universities and clinics throughout Germany, also puts an emphasis on the issue of translation. "Our common goal is the development of new medications and vaccines against infectious diseases and the corresponding diagnostics. The DZIF Management sees the benefits of the Science Campus in the joint utilisation of the infrastructures of the HZI and the close proximity to three other member institutions of the DZIF and their scientists. We hope to see the existing networking being expanded."

All research institutions on the Science Campus cooperate very closely with the Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures. "The DSMZ is the national competence centre for the researching, supply and utilisation of microbial and cell biological diversity. We keep more than 60,000 bacteria, fungi, cell cultures, plant viruses and other microbes, which makes us one of the most diverse resource centres throughout the world," says Prof Jörg Overmann, who is the director of the DSMZ. In addition, the institute has established a genome sequencing unit featuring the most sophisticated technology, which perfectly complements the capabilities of the Campus partners and assures the optimal utilisation of the expensive equipment. "It is our aim to establish the Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd as a research region that is recognised throughout the world. We are using the most sophisticated technologies and are setting up essential infrastructures as our essential contributions to the areas of bioeconomics, biotechnology and health that are relevant to society," says Overmann.

The Technische Universität Braunschweig is involved in collaborations with the HZI and the DSMZ at several locations. "Our most important partners in the Life Sciences reside on the Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd. This is where we bundle the proteomics units and conduct experiments, which our researchers at BRICS, the Braunschweig Integrated Centre of Systems Biology, analyse and use for their modelling," says Prof Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, who is the president of the Technische Universität Braunschweig. Mathematicians, computer scientists, biologists and chemists at the BRICS collaborate and generate models describing how diseases can be healed and how new medications can be developed.

The Science Campus is an important port of call, at which students can meet experienced scientists and engage in joint research.

Kaysser-Pyzalla, President of the Technische Universität Braunschweig

The Fraunhofer ITEM has its sites in Hannover and Braunschweig and closely cooperates with the partners on the Science Campus. "In the past 10 to 15 years, the Institute has shifted its focus more to medical translational research including pre-clinical pharmacology and toxicology and clinical testing in the field of lung diseases as well as the production of medications," says Prof Norbert Krug, who is the Executive Manager of the Fraunhofer ITEM. "At the Science Campus in Braunschweig, ideas develop into innovative procedures for new bio-pharmaceuticals, which ultimately are administered to patients as investigational drugs." As such, the Fraunhofer ITEM closes the gap between preclinical and clinical drug development and is the only institute in the publicly-funded research landscape of Germany that is capable not only of developing the production process of new bio-pharmaceuticals, but also of continuing the development all the way to the application of the agents in humans.

For more detailed information about the Campus partners, please refer to:

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research:

Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) investigate the mechanisms of infections and of the defences against infections. What is it that makes bacteria or viruses pathogenic? The answer to this question is expected to be key to the development of new medications and vaccines. The HZI has its main campus in Braunschweig and four other sites in Hannover, Hamburg, Saarbrücken and Würzburg, which are operated jointly with university partners.

DZIF – German Center for Infection Research:

The DZIF is an association of more than 500 scientists and medical doctors from 35 research institutions throughout Germany. They collaboratively develop new approaches for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. Their focus is on so-called translation: Rapid and effective implementation of research results in clinical practice. As such, the DZIF paves the way for the development of new vaccines, diagnostics and medications against infections.

Technische Universität Braunschweig/BRICS:

Its more than 20,000 students and 3,500 staff members make the Technische Universität Braunschweig the largest technical university in northern Germany. The BRICS is a joint research facility of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and the Technische Universität Braunschweig. It is the aim of the BRICS to conduct research in areas such as infection, formation of agents, and development of biotechnology processes by means of systems biology.

Leibniz-Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures:

The Leibniz-Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures is one of the largest bio-resource centres throughout the world. The unique diversity of its resources, the professional quality management and the comprehensive scientific services offered by the DSMZ make the institute a highly renowned service provider for the sciences, diagnostic laboratories, national reference centres and industrial partners. The research of the DSMZ focuses on microbial diversity, molecular mechanisms of biological interactions, and tumorigenesis.

Fraunhofer ITEM:

The "Pharmaceutical Biotechnology" unit has resided on the HZI campus for more than 25 years and has been part of the Fraunhofer ITEM (headquartered in Hannover) since 2008. This allowed the Fraunhofer ITEM to expand its portfolio and to develop biopharmaceutical agents and clinical investigational drugs according to GMP guidelines in the scope of contract research, and to produce them in small sterile batches. The Fraunhofer ITEM closes the gap between preclinical and clinical drug development and is the only institute in the publicly-funded research landscape of Germany that is capable not only of developing the production process of new bio-pharmaceuticals, but also of continuing the development all the way to the application of the agents in humans.