Combined know-how in the fight against pathogens
32 leading research institutions from all over Germany want to team up to fight infections at the 'German Centre for Infection Research' (DZIF). The Centre will be undertaking joint projects to obtain more detailed knowledge on pathogens that can be used to fight them and finally translate these findings into clinical applications.
Representatives of the participating universities, hospitals and research centres came together on 27 June at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig to found the DZIF and elect its management board. The joint DZIF office will also be located at the HZI.
"Infectious diseases are one of the main causes of death worldwide," says Prof. Martin Krönke, Cologne, the current DZIF spokesperson. "Time and again, new, unknown pathogens emerge, and since many bacteria have become resistant to our conventional antibiotics, the problem has become even more severe in recent years."
This is where the researchers involved in the DZIF want to specifically take countermeasures. Their aim is to use the combined know-how of the outstanding minds and a network of modern laboratory and analytical techniques to find approaches for new therapies, drugs, vaccines and vaccination methods. They will focus on so-called translation, the improved flow of findings and innovation from basic research into clinical application.
Enlarge image (© dpa) DZIF will start work on its mission almost immediately. The first projects have already begun: For example, translational research projects to develop novel treatment strategies against the long-term consequences of HIV infection will be relying on the expertise of the DZIF partner locations. "Basic research and clinical application work hand in hand here," says Prof. Hans-Georg Kräusslich, local coordinator of the DZIF in Heidelberg and Coordinator for the HIV research area.
The DZIF places great emphasis not only on translational research but also on training. "The mission of the newly established DZIF Academy is to inspire young scientists and doctors for infection research and to provide them with the best possible tools for their career," says Prof. Ulrike Protzer from Munich, DZIF Academy coordinator.
The German Centres for Health Research
The DZIF is one component of the 'German Centres for Health Research' concept with which the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) wants to push ahead in the fight against the most important endemic diseases. In addition to the DZIF, research collaborations for cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases and cancer have been established on the basis of expert recommendations. A German Centre for Diabetes Research and a German Centre for Neurogenerative Diseases were founded back in 2009.
At the end of 2010, an international, independent panel of experts selected the highest performing institutions from a large number of applicants for the DZIF. "We are delighted that we can accommodate the DZIF here and support it with our infrastructure," says Prof. Dirk Heinz, Scientific Director of the HZI in Braunschweig. The HZI's scientific contribution will focus on drugs research in addition to its work on infection biology issues, explains Heinz.