Structural Infection Biology

To understand and eventually manipulate pathways that control the interaction of pathogens (e.g. bacteria, virus, parasite) with their hosts (e.g. human, plants) requires an interdisciplinary research approach, which often combines different fields of research such as cell biology and microbiology. In our laboratory, however, we take a closer look at the processes occurring during an infection at the cellular and atomic level by harnessing a variety of modern biophysical methods that allow addressing the spatio-temporal dynamics of an infectious disease at a high resolution. The department is located at the Center for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) at the heart of the Germany’s largest accelerator center DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) in Hamburg.


Prof Dr Michael Kolbe

Understanding the molecular virulence mechanisms in the pathogenesis of bacterial infections requires integrating complementary technologies involving molecular genetics, microbiology and biophysical methods. The CSSB located at the DESY campus offers excellent conditions for an interdisciplinary research approach providing the infection biologists with state-of-the art instruments and ongoing development of new spectroscopic techniques.

Michael Kolbe

Michael Kolbe studied chemistry at the Universities of Paderborn and Hamburg. Thereafter he did his doctorate on the structure and function of the chloride pump Halorhodopsin at Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry and the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich supervised by Dieter Oesterhelt. Following this Michael Kolbe worked as postdoc at the Max-Delbrück Centre in Berlin i.a. on the structure of ion channels. Here he developed his interest for protein transporters, which are important key factors in bacterial infections of host cells.

With his transition to the Max-Planck-Institute for infection biology as leader of a junior research group he gained more in-depth knowledge in type III secretion systems. The research of his group for structural system biology is financially supported since 2013 by ERC.

Since the beginning of the year 2015 Michael Kolbe is professor at the University Hamburg and head of the department structural infection biology at HZI. This department will move to laboratories in the new founded Center for Structural Systems Biology on the DSEX campus in Hamburg in the beginning of 2017.


Tel.: +49 30 28460 332
Fax: +49 3028460 301 

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