Sites of the Helmholtz Centre
The Sites of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research are distributed all over Germany. In addition to the main campus in Braunschweig, there are facilities in five other cities: Hamburg, Hanover, Saarbrücken, Würzburg and Greifswald.
The Braunschweig Integrated Centre of Systems Biology, or BRICS for short, is a joint research facility of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and the Technische Universität Braunschweig. The aim of BRICS is the investigation of infections, active agent formation and the development of bioengineering processes by means of systems biology methods.
BRICS combines the OMICs platforms, bioinformatics and expertise in mathematical modelling of biological systems. The BRICS building on the campus of the TU Braunschweig houses the HZI departments of Bioinformatics of Infection Research and Systems Immunology. Other BRICS research groups are located on the HZI Campus and at the TU Braunschweig. The Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection for Microorganisms and Cell Cultures is also involved in BRICS.
Goal: Prediction of biological processes in the scope of infection and biotechnology
Systems biology connects life sciences to mathematics and computer science. Experiments in the laboratory produce data, which are then combined with data from literature to obtain and further develop computer models. The goal is the prediction of biological processes, for example in a live cell. The route to be taken includes the experimental determination of all important biological data for this cell, the analysis of such data and ultimately its integration into mathematical models.
Similar to models of physical processes in the engineering sciences, as used in a flight simulator, this allows predictions of biological processes. The results of the experiments and the models are repeatedly compared to each other and thus optimised step-by-step. This allows the scientists to gain a steadily more detailed understanding of the underlying biology.
"It is the objective of the HZI to investigate bacterial and viral infections as well as their interactions with the immune system from the molecular level to organisms and populations and to make this research applicable, i.e. to lead it to the development of novel agents and therapies. The bioinformatics and systems biology research at BRICS will help us utilise the vast amount of research data as optimally as possible for the control of infectious diseases."