Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Infectious diseases claim millions of human lives every year, especially in developing countries, and represent one of the most common causes of death in the world. They are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Pandemics and hospital infections are feared in the more affluent nations. Added to this is the fact that the significance of infectious agents in diseases of the cardiovascular system, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders and cancer is still frequently underestimated. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology are concerned with the impact of pathogens on the organism. Their work focuses on the causes of malaria, tuberculosis, serious gastro-intestinal diseases (such as stomach cancer) and influenza. In addition to the pure acquisition of knowledge, the scientists also focus on the development of innovative vaccines and drugs.

Contact

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.

Bacteria leave signature in colon cancer cells

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

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Using alveolar epithelia as a model for corona infection

Berlin researchers are using organ-like cell cultures to investigate compounds to combat the new virus

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Treatments for Coronavirus - repurposing existing drugs

A cancer drug may inhibit the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus

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Immune boost against the corona virus

In Germany, a vaccine candidate will be tested for its effectiveness against infections with the novel corona virus

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Body cells spy out bacteria

The aryl-hydrocarbon receptor detects when bacteria increase so much in number that they become a danger to the body

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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 position (m/f/d) - Mathematical Modelling

Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin June 17, 2020

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rational development of a tuberculosis vaccine: From drawing board to clinical trial

2015 Kaufmann, Stefan H.E.

Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global health threat and a new vaccine is urgently needed for better control. We have developed a novel TB vaccine with high efficacy and safety profile. The vaccine has proven its safety and immunogenicity in clinical trials in adults and infants in Germany and South Africa. Currently a study with newborns from HIV-infected mothers is ongoing in South Africa, and for 2016 a large study with adults at heightened TB risk is planned in India.

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