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.

Breakthrough in genetic engineering: Emmanuelle Charpentier wins Kavli Prize
Emmanuelle Charpentier, director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, is among the winners of the international renowned Kavli prize. She is honoured for her pioneering work in developing the CRISPR-Cas9 system, a breakthrough tool for genetic engineering. The award ceremony will take place in Oslo on September 4, 2018. more
Test determines risk of tuberculosis
In future, a blood test could identify which individuals with latent TB infection are at high risk of developing the disease more
Candidate tuberculosis vaccine in phase II/III trial
VPM1002 is being trailed for efficacy and safety in patients with recurrent tuberculosis and in HIV-exposed newborns more
Helicobacter creates immune system blind spot
By extracting cholesterol from host cell membranes, Helicobacter pylori generates “micro-islands” more
Sugar molecule helps stomach cells to differentiate between good and bad bugs
Max Planck scientists discover novel innate surveillance mechanism to fight off pathogenic Helicobacter strains more

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.
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Chronic infections of the stomach and their fatal consequences

2018 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. more

Fountains of youth of the immune system

2017 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.

more

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

2016 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. more

Plasmodium infections: attacking the parasite before malaria hurts

2015 Matuschewski, Kai
Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine
Malaria is a poverty-related infectious disease in the tropics and a major challenge for medical research. A better molecular understanding of the underlying mechanisms of Plasmodium-host interactions and the complex parasite life cycle is the basis for innovative evidence-based intervention strategies. Novel insights from the clinically silent liver infection and related parasites in Afrotropical bats indicate previously unrecognized opportunities to stop the parasite prior to malaria onset and to induce a decisive immunological advantage in the host. more

Vector biology - a paradigm of host–pathogen interactions

2014 Elena Levashina
Immunobiology Infection Biology Medicine
Insects represent 90% of animal species in our planet. Only a small fraction is known as vectors of infectious diseases. Our work is focused on Anopheles gambiae, the most efficient vector of malaria, which kills about 600,000 people annually. What makes some insect species such a good host for Plasmodium, the parasite that causes the disease? How does the mosquito detect Plasmodium and protect itself against the pathogen? These questions are the focus of our research, which aims to understand the molecular mechanisms of mosquito resistance to Plasmodium and their role in malaria transmission. more
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