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 (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 programme “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.


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