Research Projects (Third party funds)

Drug Research

Helmholtz Drug Research Initiative


HZI/HIPS is the coordinating centre for the joint drug discovery and development initiative of the six Helmholtz health centres DKFZ, DZNE, FZJ, HMGU, HZI, and MDC together with their strategic partners EMBL, FMP and TUM. This initiative receives funding through the portfolio topic “Helmholtz Drug Research”, which is planned to be continued as a cross program activity during PoF III phase.

The scientific challenge for the development of new and qualitatively improved candidates for clinical drugs that warrant further investment is the gaining of significantly deeper knowledge about relationships between the molecular mechanisms of disease etiology, the structure and function of the involved target biomolecules, as well as the structure and properties of the chemical modulators.

The partners of this initiative are especially well positioned in these areas and have proven core competencies which complement each other ideally and across the borders of their own target disease focus.

Technology Platform

On the basis of these competencies, a unique and comprehensive modern technology platform is being established during Portfolio funding since 7//2011 that is open to projects from all partners and that supports cross-centre and cross-discipline projects which principally follow the classical value chain but at the same time offer exciting new opportunities.

HZI/HIPS contribute the following unique expertise and resources: 

  • natural products from bacterial and fungal origin (extracts, isolated pure compounds, and processes for production),
  • synthetic medicinal chemistry to produce analogues for studies of structure/activity-relationship and optimisation,
  • rational drug design,
  • combinatorial chemistry of chemical libraries in solution and microarray format for high-throughput screening,
  • structural biology of compound-target complexes at atomic resolution,
  • broad microbial and cellular biological profiling of compounds for mode-of-action studies,
  • early cellular and in vivo adsorption/distribution/ metabolism/excretion/toxicity (ADMET) determinations and
  • drug formulation.

HZI is involved in several cross-centre research projects and actively initiates additional measures to support these.


  • Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) & EMBL Heidelberg
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE)
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ)
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (HZI) & Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland (HIPS)
  • Helmholtz Zentrum München – Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (HMGU) & TU München (TUM)
  • Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC) & Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)



Prof Dr Mark Brönstrup

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