The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) is organised in the form of a GmbH (equals “Ltd.”). Shareholders are the Federal Republic of Germany (90 percent) and the federal states Lower-Saxony (eight percent), Saarland (one percent) and Free State of Bavaria (one percent).

The shareholders' meeting, as the supreme management body of the HZI, meets at least once a year, takes the most important directional decisions, appoints the two managing directors and decides on their discharge. Representatives of the shareholders - together with experts from universities, clinics, industry, other research centres and the HZI itself - form the supervisory board. The HZI Supervisory Board meets twice a year, supervises the legality, expediency and economic efficiency of the management and decides on important research policy and financial matters of the company. The Scientific Committee provides the Supervisory Board with expert advice. The Centre's middle management consists of the heads of the scientific departments, the administrative units and the staff units.

Scientific Director

Dirk Heinz studied Chemistry and Biochemistry in Freiburg before he turned towards Structural Biology during his PhD work at the University of Basel. Following a postdoc period in the US, he returned to Freiburg for his habilitation. In 1998 he became a junior research group leader at the then German Research Centre of Biotechnology (GBF, now HZI) in Braunschweig, where he has headed the Department of Molecular Structural Biology between 2002 and 2013.

Dirk Heinz is Professor at the Technical University of Braunschweig and has promoted the field of structural biology for more than a decade as member of several national and international committees. Since 2009 he is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

After a one-year period as Acting Scientific Director, Dirk Heinz was appointed as Scientific Director of the HZI on 1 August 2011. For the period of 2019-2020 he has been elected as Vice President of the Helmholtz Association for the Research Field Health.

Administrative Director

Born in Hoya in Lower Saxony, Christian Scherf studied law in Freiburg /Brsg. and international and European law in Dijon, France. He completed both his state examinations and his legal traineeship in Frankfurt am Main. Christian Scherf's interest in international contacts began at a very early age. After graduating from high school, he worked for a year as a volunteer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Costa Rica, helping refugees.

After later positions as a young lawyer at the EU Commission in Brussels, as a government councillor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and various management positions in supra-regional education, science and research funding, he took over the commercial management of the GKSS Forschungszentrum Geesthacht GmbH (now HEREON) in 2000. In 2002, he moved to the German Electron Synchrotron DESY as Commercial Director. From 2015-2020, Christian Scherf served as Administrative Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg. In 2020, he took on a new challenge as Founding Chancellor and later Chancellor of the Berufliche Hochschule Hamburg. Since the beginning of January 2023, Christian Scherf has led the HZI as Administrative Director. 

He is also Chairman of the University Council of the European University in Flensburg and a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Field Service (AFS).

Contact Partner


PrintSend per emailShare