The DZIF partner site Hannover-Braunschweig combines the expertise in clinical and experimental infection research of seven institutions: Hannover Medical School (MHH), Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Leibniz Institute DSMZ (German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures), University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo), Twincore – Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research GmbH, Technical University (TU) Braunschweig and Robert Koch Institute.

The partner site contributes notably to addressing the grand challenges of “Global Health”, “Emerging Infections” and “Infections of the Immunocompromised Host (IICH)”. Hannover-Braunschweig coordinates the Thematic Translational Units (TTUs) ‘Hepatitis’  and ‘Gastrointestinal (GI) Infections’ and is one of three focus sites of the TTUs ‘IICH’ and ‘Novel Anti-Infectives’.

The partner site provides its strong expertise in clinical research, immunology and molecular virology in all fields of viral hepatitis to the TTU ‘Hepatitis’. Major research topics are the establishment of biomarkers for managing hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, analysis of immune functions and the role of adoptive immune response in acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, as well as virus and host determinants in the progression and therapy of HCV infection. MHH can draw on its experience with a large number of viral hepatitis patients each year and multiple clinical phase I–V studies investigating novel antiviral and immunotherapeutic treatment approaches. The Hannover-based competence Network for Viral Hepatitis (HepNet) cooperates with the TTU ‘Hepatitis’ within the newly established HepNet Study House infrastructure, which serves as a platform for clinical studies and provides patient samples from existing cohorts.

Within the TTU ‘GI Infections’, Hannover-Braunschweig contributes its excellent basic and preclinical research to the fields of Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial gastrointestinal pathogens and immunology of the gastrointestinal tract. One focus is the identification and characterization of small inhibitory molecules (SMIs) against virulence and colonization factors of enteric bacteria. The existing research expertise combined with the large compound resources and professional high-throughput screening systems available at the partner site provide an optimal starting basis for this approach. With its longstanding experience in next generation sequencing for bacterial genome and microbiota composition analysis, Hannover-Braunschweig will further support the development of a vaccine against Helicobacter pylori and of GI microbiota-based biomarkers of susceptibility to GI infection. Additionally, MHH will coordinate a prospective clinical study of gastrointestinal microbiota composition in patients at risk of developing Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea (CDAD).

MHH is one of the leading transplantation centres in Germany, and coordinates the establishment of the national transplant cohort. Major research topics within the TTU ‘IICH’ at the partner site are the identification and characterization of novel antivirals targeting herpesviruses and the development of novel diagnostic assays for monitoring herpesvirus-specific immunity. Additionally, the long-standing expertise in cell therapy and GMP cell product generation will add greatly to the joint efforts to improve cell-based therapies of infectious diseases in immunocompromised patients. Hannover-Braunschweig also participates with projects within the TTUs ‘Tuberculosis’, ‘HIV’ and ‘Emerging Infections’. Major translational infrastructural measures (TIs) at the partner site are the establishment of the DZIF Natural Compound Library, the DZIF Bioinformatics Platform, DZIF Biobanking and DZIF Epidemiology. Within the DZIF Natural Compound Library, Hannover-Braunschweig can build on its rich collection of microbial producers that has been established and partially utilized over the last decades. Complementary scientific know-how in the field of natural product research and strong expertise in assay development and medicinal chemistry will lead to the discovery of new families of anti-infectives. Latest generation equipment allows for faster screening, newly developed databases enable quick and comprehensive profiling, and new molecular biological tools will lead to the identification of novel types of natural compounds.

The Leibniz-Institute DSMZ at Hannover-Braunschweig contributes to DZIF Biobanking through its comprehensive collections of microbial producers and cell cultures, and provides suitable standards and protocols for the deposition, maintenance, authentication and quality control of microbial pathogens and natural compound producers as well as the distribution of associated metadata. Within the DZIF Bioinformatics Platform, the partner site is focusing on establishing a Bioinformatics Resource Centre (BRC) located in Braunschweig. The aim of the BRC is to set up a centralized and standardized database resource with sufficient computing capacities within DZIF. BRC interacts with TTU-based data generation, provides support for data integration into standardized formats, and allows access to analytical tools for data exploitation in a resource-rich computing environment. Furthermore, Hannover-Braunschweig builds upon long-standing experience in bacterial and metagenome sequencing and analysis. Combined with its broad sequencing capacities, it will therefore promote new scientific findings in the fields of microbial pathogens, microbial communities, host-pathogen interactions, and epidemiology.

Partner site speaker
Thomas Schulz (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover)

Deputy partner site speaker
Mark Brönstrup (Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung)

Partner site manager
Silke Hartmann (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover)

Research institutions involved

Hannover Medical School

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Leibniz-Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures

TWINCORE – Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research

University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation

Technische Universität Braunschweig

Robert Koch-Institut

Principal Investigators