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.

History of the HZI (since 2006)

April 2022: Founding ceremony of the HZI site Helmholtz Institute for One Health (HIOH) in Greifswald. The local founding partners of the institute, which conducts research at the interface of human health, animal health and the environment, are the University of Greifswald, Greifswald University Medicine and the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (FLI).

February/March 2020: The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020 leads to a reorientation of numerous projects at HZI. The flexible programme structure enables HZI to react very quickly and, despite the restrictions imposed by the lockdown, to focus on the immediate fight against the pandemic. Covid-19 research becomes a new focus of HZI. The centre develops concepts for mathematical modelling, recording and monitoring of disease outbreaks, serological analysis, vaccine and drug research. Together with national and international partners, scientists at HZI have already started working on more than 50 corona-related projects.

November 2019: Following the scientific review in March 2018 (see below), HZI's programme "Infection Research" also proves the future viability of its central strategic concepts in the second stage of the evaluation process. The reviewers attest HZI a "world-class scientific performance" with regard to human pathogens, RNA biology, vaccine and anti-infective drug research.

November 2019: The HZI site HIPS in Saarbrücken agrees with the University of Saarland (UdS) and the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) on an interdisciplinary cooperation in biomedical-pharmaceutical drug discovery. The aim of the "Saarland Research Alliance" is to bundle the activities of the partner institutions in research, teaching and the promotion of young scientists and to use synergies.

February 2019: HZI and the drug discovery company Evotec SE join forces and sign a cooperation agreement with the goal to develop novel antibiotics to overcome drug-resistant bacterial pathogens. The first common project of this public-private partnership is the optimisation of cystobactamids, a family of natural antibacterial products that are active against the most dangerous Gram-negative pathogens on the WHO priority list.

June 2018: Together with the Volkswagen Foundation, HZI and MHH host the “Herrenhausen Symposium on Individualised Infection Medicine – The Future is now” in Hannover. The first International expert conference dealing exclusively with this subject highlights the current state of research and the perspectives of individualised infection medicine. The meeting organized by CiiM attracts 200 participants.

March 2018: As part of the Helmholtz Association’s programme-oriented funding initaitive, panels of internationally renowned experts evaluate the research programmes of all Helmholtz Centres. As a result, the achievements of HZI’s programme “Infection Research” receive the highest possible rating, “outstanding”.

October 2017: HZI and its campus partners DSMZ, Fraunhofer ITEM, Technische Universität Braunschweig and DZIF establish a new joint umbrella brand titled "Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd". Together, they aim to expand the regional and nationwide visibility of this modern Life Science campus, promote networking of the partnering institutions and attract new cooperation partners and young talent.

June 2017: The Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) celebrates its opening on the DESY Campus in Hamburg. In this new interdisciplinary research centre, scientists from ten different research institutions work together on the elucidation of structures, dynamics and mechanisms of infection processes. HZI has been one of the founding institutions of the CSSB and is represented there by its department “Structural Infection Biology”.

October 2016: Start-up of the HIRI in Würzburg – The HZI and the University of Würzburg launch a new institute for infection research: The Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) addresses a new research field and aims for novel therapeutic approaches.

August 2016: Inauguration of the research centre for systems biology BRICS – The joint research centre of the Technische Universität Braunschweig and the HZI commences its research operations. Some 170 researchers from institutes of both facilities mainly address models for the life sciences in this setting. The aim is to use these models for a better understanding of the foundations of life to make new applications for health and environment possible.

December 2015: HZI and the Hannover Medical School (MHH) jointly found the Centre for Individualised Infection Medicine (CiiM). The new institute aims to investigate and develop new,  custom-made therapies for each infection patient.

November 2015: Groundbreaking ceremony for new Drug Research and Functional Genomics Centre DRFG – The new Drug Research and Functional Genomics Centre (DRFG) is developed on the HZI campus in Braunschweig. Novel agents against pathogens as well as bacterial genes and their function will be researched at this location.

October 2015: 50 years of top research in Braunschweig-Stöckheim – Founded 1965 in Braunschweig, the predecessor institution of today's HZI has undergone several phases of content restructuring in the past half century. Since the beginning of the 2000's, the focus of the centre has been on "Infections". With a panel discussion, film clips and many eyewitness accounts from the past 50 years we look back at our history and dare to take a look forward at the challenges ahead (Ceremony).

September 2015: The interdisciplinary Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) celebrates the roofing ceremony of its new research building

September 2015: Inauguration ceremony of the new building of the HIPS – After two years of construction, the new building of the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Saarland (HIPS) is completed. A branch location of the HZI, the HIPS is the first non-academic research institution for pharmaceutical research in Germany that is financed by public funds.

September 2014: Unique project of MHH, Fraunhofer ITEM and HZI in all of Germany – Inauguration of the Clinical Research Center Hannover (CRC Hannover) – The CRC is an important interface between basic research and marketing authorisation for new medications and medical devices. The focus is on concepts for early clinical studies.

September 2013: New administrative building W – The administration, executive management and public relations department are moving to the new building. The layout of the building resembles the letter W.

March 2013: The new S3 building commences operations on the HZI campus in Braunschweig, the S3 facility in the Animal Facility 2 starts up in May 2013. In the Biosafety Level 3 laboratories scientists can investigate pathogens that cause serious diseases. S3 laboratory facilities are closed off and isolated from the outside world.

December 2012: Grand opening of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) – The DZIF is an association of leading universities and non-academic institutions in the field of infection research in Germany. The aim is to strengthen translational research. The DZIF office is located on the HZI campus.

July 2012: Grand opening of the Building D2 on the HZI campus – More than 2,000 square meters of floor space for 100 scientists to work on the implementation of their visions of TRAIN

May 2012: Grand opening of the study centre in Hannover. Future studies related to public health will be conducted at the study centre and the correlations between infections and chronic diseases will be investigated.

April 2011: The HZI becomes the representing partner for the Hannover/Braunschweig region in the nationwide research association "German Centre for Infection Research". 

January 2011: The HZI assumes the coordination of the newly founded Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) arising on the DESY campus in Hamburg.

August 2009: HZI branch site founded on the campus of the University of Saarbrücken: Scientists of the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) develop new agents and therapeutic options for infectious diseases.

June 2009: The new Animal facility opens after a little more than three years of construction. More than 50 staff members take care of the approximately 30,000 mice at the animal facility of the HZI.

August 2008: The Hannover Medical School and the HZI jointly open the Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research TWINCORE in close proximity to the MHH campus.

July 2006: The GBF is renamed Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research. The new gate of the centre is completed at the same time. As a result, the premises gain a new entryway, and also a new address.

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