Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Infections are among the most significant medical challenges. The relationships between microbes and their hosts are also essential drivers of evolution. At the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, researchers from different disciplines search for answers to fundamental questions in infection biology. The scientists investigate how viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and worms cause diseases and how their hosts react to them. The research encompasses different levels: Atoms, molecules, cells, tissues and organisms as well as medical and social aspects.


Charitéplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 28460-0
Fax: +49 30 28460-111

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS for Infectious Diseases and Immunology

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Many publications by Max Planck scientists in 2021 were of great social relevance or met with a great media response. We have selected 12 articles to present you with an overview of some noteworthy research of the year


The sphingolipid metabolite sphingosine-1-phosphate activates NOD receptors upon perturbation of cellular homeostasis


Max Planck researchers and their collaborators reveal transformation of colon organoids in vitro


Researchers show in mathematical model that flu may facilitate the spread of Covid-19


Scientists identify mutations in the genome caused by the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli


Sometimes a single discovery can change a whole life. For Emmanuelle Charpentier, deciphering the functioning of an enzyme previously known only to experts was such a moment. The trio comprised of one enzyme and two RNA molecules and known as CRISPR-Cas9 made headlines far beyond the world of science. Since then, a lot of things have changed in the French woman’s life. She became a Director at the Berlin-based Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in early October 2015.

At the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, the focus is on such unpleasant companions as chlamydia, HIV and tubercle bacilli. Stefan H. E. Kaufmann, as Founding Director, helped establish it 20 years ago. Since then, the scientist has been researching the strengths and weaknesses of the tubercle bacillus. Modern tuberculosis research would be inconceivable without him – and he without it.

White blood cells that cast net-like structures to ensnare pathogens recently gave scientists quite a surprise. Now the first patients are reaping the benefits of this discovery.

The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis uses a trick to ensure its survival within its host cell. There, it exploits the cell’s distribution center.

Postdoc (m/f/d) | Mathematical modeling of epidemiological interactions between respiratory viruses

Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin May 12, 2022

More than a schematic: How we want to decipher immunological signaling pathways

2020 Taylor, Marcus J.

Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine

Communication is key for our immune system. When pathogens attack our body, this information must be passed on and converted into activity. We investigate the signalling mechanisms of the innate immune system to create a fundamental understanding of the function of these signal transduction pathways. To do so, we visualised the formation of the myddosome: a supramolecular organizing center, which forms at immune receptors and controls signal transmission. Our results can help understanding the dynamic interaction of signaling substances in immune cells.


Malaria, CRISPR/Cas9 and gene drives

2019 Levashina, Elena A.

Infection Biology Medicine

Mosquitoes are known to spread malaria, however, mosquitoes are different. By collecting thousands of mosquitoes in four different African countries, we found that some mosquito species are much better vectors of malaria-causing parasites than others. Statistics and modeling analyses of our big dataset revealed that the prevalence of malaria-infected mosquitoes depends on the composition of mosquito species inhabiting this area. We also discovered that mosquito immune system and metabolism determine the success of parasite development in the mosquito and its virulence to the next human host.


Neutrophils: Between cell division and cell death

2018 Arturo Zychlinsky, Abteilung Zelluläre Mikrobiologie, Max-Planck-Institut für Infektionsbiologie

Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine

Organisms are confronted with a multitude of pathogens on a daily basis. Hence, in the course of evolution, the immune system developed many sophisticated defense mechanisms. In 2004, our team described a previously unknown mechanism: neutrophils, which are quite abundant immune cells, are able to trap harmful microorganisms in nets. Interestingly, these nets are not just built of the same components as the genetic material, but also, their formation follows steps which otherwise only take place during cell division.


Chronic infections of the stomach and their fatal consequences

2017 Meyer, Thomas F.

Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine

New findings from the institute provide detailed insight into the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori induces chronic inflammation of the gastric mucosa and how this could promote the development of cancer. The human mucosa is equipped with efficient sensors in combination with defense mechanisms for detecting and, if necessary, eliminating the pathogenic bacteria. In the case of H. pylori, however, this pathogen is detected but the subsequent induction of a protective response is effectively blocked.


Fountains of youth of the immune system

2016 Melchers, Fritz

Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine

For life, hematopoietic stem cells are springs of all new cells of the immune system. We have studied the embryonic origins of these stem cells, their migration from blood into fetal liver, their residence in bone marrow, their capacities to save energy and rest or to become active and differentiate into all types of mature cells of the immune system. Surprisingly, stem cells offer a home for quiescent, latent forms of tuberculosis bacteria. Thus, they may be a continuous danger for an eruption of active tuberculosis but may also be a source of continuously produced tuberculosis vaccine.

Go to Editor View