Gastrointestinal Infections

Patient samples arrive at the microbiological laboratories of Hannover Medical School.© DZIF/scienceRELATIONS

Numerous bacteria, viruses and parasites cause gastrointestinal infections. According to the WHO, approximately 1.5 million people worldwide die of diarrhoeal disease alone. Children under the age of five living in developing countries are particularly affected by conditions such as diarrhoea and vomiting all the way through to malnutrition and death. Alongside the pathogens responsible for diarrhoeal disease, one of the most important gastrointestinal pathogens is Helicobacter pylori. It is the main cause of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer and it is estimated that half the population is infected.

The DZIF research field “Gastrointestinal Infections” aims to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of bacterial infections of the stomach and gut. Amongst other things, scientists develop new treatment strategies that selectively target specific bacteria or pathogen groups. They research the composition of natural gut flora and the role of microorganisms in disease development. Alongside this, both preventive and therapeutic vaccines are being developed.

Central Themes

  • Pathoblocker development
    Scientists search for virulence factor inhibitors that target gastrointestinal pathogens such as EHEC, Salmonella and Helicobacter pylori.

  • Vaccine development
    The central focus is to develop vaccines against the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori and noroviruses.

  • Diagnostic biomarker development
    Research on the composition and function of natural gut flora, and its role in the development and prevention of gastrointestinal diseases. The aim is to improve the gut flora to specifically benefit the patient.

Working Groups

  • Professorship "Medical Microbiomics"
    Contact: Guntram Grassl, Hannover Medical School

  • Professorship "Mucosal Immunology and Microbiome"
    Contact: Julia-Stephanie Frick, University of Tübingen

  • Translational GI Microbiome Research Platform
    Contact: Bärbel Stecher, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Clinician Scientist Young Investigator Research Group ‘GI Infections’
    Contact: Sebastian Suerbaum, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

  • Clinical Host Microbiome Interaction Research Facility
    Contact: Markus Gerhard, Technische Universität München

  • DZIF Centre for GI Microbiome Research (CEGIMIR)
    Contact: Sebastian Suerbaum, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

  • Centre for Gastrointestinal Clinical Studies (CEGICLIN)
    Contact: Oliver Bachmann, Hannover Medical School

Participating Sites



Interview with Sebastian Suerbaum, TTU "Gastrointestinal Infections" [in German]

Sebastian Suerbaum, Hannover Medical School

Ingo Autenrieth, University and University Hospital Tübingen
Markus Gerhard, Technische Universität München
Oliver Bachmann, Hannover Medical School

Project manager
Silke Hartmann