About the HZI

How do bacteria and viruses make us sick? How does our immune system defend our body? Which novel pharmaceutical compounds can help us to fight dangerous infections? These are questions we at the HZI want to answer. Our goal: To set up the basis for new diagnostic tools, new drugs and new therapies against infectious diseases.

The Helmholtz Centre

Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research examine the mechanisms of infection diseases and their defences. We develop the results of basic research systematically with the emphasis on medical application. The following are included in scientific issues that we investigate:

  • What is it that 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? 

For clarification of such questions, we examine pathogens that are either medically relevant or that can be used as models for the research of infections. Understanding these mechanisms then contributes to the on-going battle against infectious diseases in the form of drugs and vaccines.


It is the task of this Centre to execute bio-medical research in the domain of infection biology and its clinical application and practical implementation. The focus of research at the HZI is concentrated on the programme of infection research.

Research Budget

In 2017 the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research had a budget amounting about 61.16 million euros which is provided by the Federal Republic of Germany and the States of Lower Saxony and Saarland as well as from the program-oriented funding (POF) of the Helmholtz Association.
Additionally, leaders for both working groups and departments procure third-party funding from national research funding programmes, EU programmes and private industry, which in total amounted to 18.3 million euros in 2017.
Furthermore the HZI operates the funding management for the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF).

Patents und Publications

Research results are sometimes registered as patents. Moreover, the HZI can lay claim to a total of 554 publications (2017) in international, high-ranking scientific speciality magazines. 77 are high impact-publications.

Employees and Professional sectors

The HZI currently employs 822 employees (31.12.2017) from various professional sectors: biologists, biotechnologists, biochemists, chemists, physicians, laboratory workers and assistants, office personnel, animal-care technician, network specialists, craftsmen, technicians and engineers. They represent more than 50 different nationalities.

International research: Per year 200 guest scientistswork at the HZI.

Promotion of Junior Scientists


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