About the HZI

Bacterial mix in different colors and shapes
Bacterial mix consisting of the species: Pseudomonas aeruginosa (pink), Staphylococcus aureus (yellow), Klebsiella pneumoniae (light and dark blue) and Streptococcus canis (green)

Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) investigate the mechanisms of infectious diseases and the defence against them. Subsequently, they develop the results of basic research systematically towards medical and pharmaceutical application. The scientific questions we are trying to answer include:

  • What transforms bacteria or viruses into pathogens?
  • Why are some individuals particularly sensitive while others are resistant to infections?
  • How can we interrupt infection processes?
  • How do we transfer our findings to application for human beings?  

To solve these problems, we investigate pathogens that are clinically relevant or can be used as models for the research of infections. Understanding the mechanisms of infections then contributes to the development of novel, patient-tailored solutions for diagnosis, prevention, treatment as well as surveillance and control of infectious diseases.


The HZI addresses the infectious disease challenges of the 21st century. Therefore, the centre has implemented its competitive program “Infection Research”. The programme puts particular emphasis on the transfer of research results to application, on individualised infection medicine and the increased use of data-driven approaches for infection research, including omics-technologies and machine learning tools.

Facts and Figures

Research Budget

In 2023, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research had a budget amounting to about 95 million euros which is provided by the Federal Republic of Germany and the States of Lower Saxony, Bavaria, Saarland and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern through the programme-oriented funding (POF) of the Helmholtz Association. Additionally, leaders of research groups and departments acquire third-party funding from national research funding programmes, EU programmes and private industry, which in total amounted to about 37 million euros in 2023.

Furthermore, the HZI is responsible for the funding management for the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).

Patents and Publications

In many cases, research results are registered as patents. Currently, HZI holds 81 patent families – numbers of patent groups dating from one original application – in total. Moreover, HZI can lay claim to a total of more than 500 publications in international scientific magazines in 2023.

Promotion of Junior Scientists:

Employees and Professional sectors

The HZI currently employs 1069 employees (31.12.2023) from various professional sectors: biologists, biotechnologists, biochemists, chemists, physicians, laboratory workers and assistants, office personnel, animal-care technicians, network specialists, craftsmen, technicians and engineers.

International research:
Annually 200 guest scientists and guest doctoral students work at the HZI.

Facts and Figures
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Publications in 2023
Publications in 2023
Basic funding in 2023 (plus third-party funding)
0 Mio. €
Basic funding in 2023 (plus third-party funding)
Mission Statement

Committed to fighting infectious diseases

At the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), we investigate how bacterial and viral pathogens cause infectious diseases. In line with the mission of the Helmholtz Association, our research has a translational orientation. In this way, the knowledge we gain forms the basis for the development of novel diagnostics, therapies and vaccines against infectious diseases.

The HZI pursues long-term research goals as part of the Helmholtz Association. The guideline for our work is our interdisciplinary research programme, in which we commit ourselves to specific goals that are regularly evaluated. The benefits of our research activities for patients and society are of great importance. The HZI is an exclusively non-profit research institution.

The HZI stands for:

Excellent & Interdisciplinary Infection Research

We offer both young and experienced scientists an excellent international environment with outstanding career opportunities. With our broad expertise, state-of-the-art infrastructures and supporting administration, we facilitate long-term translational cutting-edge research to enable significant progress in the fight against infectious diseases.

Strength through Partnership

We collaborate with renowned national and international research institutions, universities and industry partners, sharing knowledge, resources and personnel for mutual benefit.

Knowledge and Technology Transfer

We inform the public in a well-founded and comprehensible way about findings and innovations from basic research and their potential benefits for medicine and society. In addition, we provide knowledge-based advice for politics, business and society. We enable and promote the transfer of our research results into application.

Young Talent and Work-Life Balance

We attach great importance to talent management and promotion in all areas of the centre. In particular, we support mothers and fathers on parental leave and facilitate their successful return from parental leave through targeted career support, flexible working hours and childcare services. We aim for equal representation in management positions.

Responsibility and Transparency

The freedom of research and its predominantly public funding commit us to special social responsibility. We handle the resources entrusted to us transparently and carefully and work according to the principles of good scientific practice.

Diversity and Equal Opportunities

We stand for diversity in all dimensions, cooperation, respect and coexistence based on fundamental democratic values. In order to create and secure equal opportunities, we strive to treat each other with respect and sensitivity and continuously seek to remove barriers and actively protect against discrimination. We make a special effort towards foreign employees. We also support the integration of people with disabilities in job training and employment.

Health Work, Motivation and Training

Our employees are the HZI's most important resource. Their well-being and productivity are the basic prerequisites for motivation and creativity. We provide a working environment in which our employees have the opportunity to work in a self-determined, flexible and healthy way and to further their education. At the same time, we provide each employee with an in-house health promotion program.


We shape research as well as all supporting structures according to the current requirements of sustainability and development. Similarly, we attach great importance to high standards of occupational safety, health and environmental protection for our employees.