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.

Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI)

The Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) is the first institution of its kind worldwide to combine ribonucleic acid (RNA) research with infection biology. Based on novel findings from its strong basic research program, the institute’s long-term goal is to develop innovative therapeutic approaches to better diagnose and treat human infections.

HIRI is a site of the Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research Braunschweig (HZI) in cooperation with the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg (JMU) and is located on the Würzburg Medical Campus.

Due to its unique expertise, HIRI is in high demand for international research collaborations. Its research areas include single cell sequencing, RNA-based antibiotics and virus-host interactions, e.g. in SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Find detailed information on the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research at:

Our Team

Research at HIRI focuses on four areas—bacterial infections, viral infections, host response, and RNA delivery—complemented by the strategic pursuit of emerging topics in RNA research. Collaboration between groups is core to our mission, and the tight interconnections between our four research areas provide a vibrant research environment for our scientists and trainees.

The first HIRI department was established in June 2017 by HIRI’s founding director, Professor Jörg Vogel. The aim of his department is to develop novel procedures to understand the RNA world of bacterial pathogens and use RNA-centric approaches to target pathogens and manipulate the microbiota.

Prof Chase Beisel
RNA Synthetic Biology

The department of Prof Chase Beisel (formerly North Carolina State University, USA) will investigate and harness the functional diversity of CRISPR-Cas immune systems for the development of new foundational technologies. They aim to develop a new generation of CRISPR technologies that can be employed to better understand, diagnose, and combat human infections.

Dr Antoine-Emmanuel Saliba
Single-cell Analysis

The research of Dr Antoine-Emmanuel Saliba and his group is dedicated to using single- cell RNA-seq approaches to study heterogeneity in host responses to infections and its impact on disease outcome.

Jun Prof Neva Caliskan
Recoding Mechanisms in Infections

The research of Jun Prof Neva Caliskan’s group aims to identify and characterize the mechanisms and regulatory implications of translational recoding in RNA viruses and pathogenic bacteria.

The group of Jun Prof Lars Barquist will develop systems approaches to RNA and infection, using modern visualization, data science, and machine learning technologies to integrate large-scale functional genomics data.

Prof Alexander Westermann
Host-pathogen-microbiota interactions

The group of Alexander Westermann focuses on investigating molecular RNA-based mechanisms that allow infecting pathogens to outcompete the resident microbiota. Their research centers on the identification and functional characterization of noncoding RNA molecules in pathogens, microbiota members and the host, to identify those RNAs that may serve as biomarkers for diagnostics or as therapeutic targets.

The Helmholtz Junior research group of Redmond Smyth investigates how RNA viruses regulate their replication and evolution using non-coding RNA structures within their genomes.

The work group of Mathias Munschauer combines a cutting-edge suite of technologies from the fields of biochemistry, genomics, molecular biology, and computational biology to decode how long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) work mechanistically and how they contribute to host defense mechanisms.

The group of Franziska Faber investigates the interplay between the enteric pathogen Clostridioides difficile and the intestinal microbiota. They seek to better understand the RNA-based mechanisms controlling virulence during these interactions.

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