Although antibiotics and vaccines have been in use for many decades, indeed with great success, infections are still responsible for an enormous number of illnesses and deaths around the world. The major challenges we now face, alongside chronic and poverty-associated infectious diseases, are the newly appearing microbial and viral infections spreading rapidly across the globe via modern means of transport. The speed with which pathogens are becoming resistant to the anti-invectives on the market poses another serious threat. Adding to this are infections occurring more rampantly in immunocompromised patients, especially since the take-off of modern medicine such as transplantation and oncology.
To combat such pathogens and their associated health risks, we need new, integrative and interdisciplinary approaches involving the close collaboration of experts from translational research, epidemiology and clinical practice. In 2011, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) established the German Centre for Infection Research (Deutsche Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, DZIF), bringing together universities, university medical centres, Leibniz and Max Planck institutes, Helmholtz centres and other government research establishments with strong profiles in the field of infectious diseases to tackle the most urgent infectiology challenges with an integrative approach.