Research Foci

Based on challenges of high clinical and societal relevance and the special competencies of its cooperation partners, HZI has established Research Foci (RF), providing a synergistic, dynamic and flexible framework for the programme.

The Research Foci integrate know-how from different areas of HZI’s research, namely from all three Topics, and can thus address research questions using expertise on pathogens, immune systems and anti-infectives. They offer the flexibility to meet new challenges, e.g. by establishing a new Research Focus when a new urgent problem emerges. Within each Research Focus, HZI scientists pursue the transfer of knowledge from the lab to clinical or pharmaceutical application.

Currently, researchers at HZI and its partner institutions cooperate in five Research Foci addressing the clinically relevant fields of:

Microbial communities (MICO)

Research Focus MICO combines expertise to characterize and influence the complex interactions between pathogens, the immune system and the microbiota - the entirety of commensal bacteria living in the gut and other parts of the human body. This includes innovative approaches for profiling microbes (like RNA-based technologies, the establishment of complex host-microbe interaction models, and single-cell analyses).

Key questions addressed by RF MICO include:

  • How does the microbial population in the human body, e.g. in the gut, develop?
  • How does it influence susceptibility and resistance toward infections?
  • How do commensal and pathogenic microbes communicate with each other and their host?
  • Which microbial species are essential for the proper function of the gut?
  • How can we prevent damage to the microbiota or restore its function?
  • How can we exploit the microbiota to discover new functional RNAs and proteins?

Speaker RF MICO: Prof Dr Jörg Vogel
Deputy Speaker RF MICO: Prof Dr Till Strowig

Most relevant publications

Microbial Communities (MICO)

Alpizar-Rodriguez,D., Lesker,T.R., Gronow,A., Gilbert,B., Raemy,E., Lamacchia,C., Gabay,C., Finckh,A., and Strowig,T. (2019). Prevotella copri in individuals at risk for rheumatoid arthritis. Ann. Rheum. Dis. 78, 590-593.

Rath,S., Rud,T., Karch,A., Pieper,D.H., and Vital,M. (2018). Pathogenic functions of host microbiota. Microbiome 6, Article number 174.

Stapels,D.A.C., Hill,P.W.S., Westermann,A.J., Fisher,R.A., Thurston,T.L., Saliba,A.E., Blommestein,I., Vogel,J., and Helaine,S. (2018). Salmonella persisters undermine host immune defenses during antibiotic treatment. Sci. 362, 1156-1160.

Thiemann,S., Smit,N., Roy,U., Lesker,T.R., Galvez,E.J.C., Helmecke,J., Basic,M., Bleich,A., Goodman,A.L., Kalinke,U., Flavell,R.A., Erhardt,M., and Strowig,T. (2017). Enhancement of IFNgamma Production by Distinct Commensals Ameliorates Salmonella-Induced Disease. Cell Host Microbe 21, 682-694.

Westermann,A.J., Förstner,K.U., Amman,F., Barquist,L., Chao,Y., Schulte,L.N., Müller,L., Reinhardt,R., Stadler,P.F., Vogel,J. (2016). Dual RNA-seq unveils noncoding RNA functions in Salmonella-host interplay. Nature 529(7587), 496-501.

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