Locations of the Helmholtz Centre



Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI)

Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie (IMIB) der Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg © Universität Würzburg / Foto: Staatliches Bauamt Würzburg/Wolfgang Dürr Architekturfotografie

The Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) was established in May 2017 as a joint venture between the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg (JMU). Located on the Würzburg medical campus, it will be the first research institution worldwide bridging the areas of RNA research and infectious diseases. 

The HIRI

"Until recently, the significance of RNA molecules in infection processes has been greatly underestimated. Today, we know that RNAs interact with a diverse array of molecules of the host cell and the pathogen. To exploit these opportunities, HIRI will pioneer an integrated concept using cutting-edge technologies."

Prof Jörg Vogel 

Scientists at the HIRI will develop innovative RNA-based approaches to elucidate the complex mechanisms of pathogens and the host immune system and to investigate their translational potential.

Based on these findings, new RNA-based diagnostic tools and therapeutics will be established and will be brought to clinical application by developing strategies for their delivery.

The major goals of the HIRI include

  • Resolving the complexity and heterogeneity of infection processes at the single-cell level
  • Identifying novel regulatory RNAs with essential roles in pathogenesis
  • Understanding RNA-based mechanisms in virulence and host defence
  • Developing innovative delivery techniques for RNA-based interventions
  • Exploiting RNA knowledge for new diagnostics, preventives and anti-infectives
Jörg Vogel, acting director of the HIRI and professor for infection biology at the University of Würzburg. © Christof Rieken

On June 1st, 2017 the first scientists have started their work at the newly established department “RNA biology of bacterial infections” under the leadership of HIRI acting director Prof Jörg Vogel and the research group “Single cell analysis” headed by Dr Antoine‐Emmanuel Saliba. In the long term, up to 150 scientists are planned to work at HIRI.

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