Infections of the immunocompromised Host

In hospitals, pathogens that are normally harmless can suddenly become a life-threatening danger.© DZIF/scienceRELATIONS

Surgery, tumour treatment and intensive care medicine improve life expectancies of many patients. However, these measures and therapies come at a price: they weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility even to “harmless” pathogens. Infections in patients with compromised immune systems are playing an ever increasing role in the day-to-day life of hospitals and are often difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics.

It is currently almost impossible to estimate the precise factors which weaken a specific patient’s immune system. DZIF scientists in the research field “Infections of the immunocompromised host” research appropriate biomarkers for estimating such risks and develop vaccines and immunotherapies to strengthen the immune system and protect immunocompromised patients from infection.

Central Themes

  • Biomarkers for infection control and risk estimation
    Scientists aim to find biomarkers that indicate infection risks and demonstrate potential options for specifically strengthening the immune system.

  • Developing new antiviral therapies
    Herpesviruses, adenoviruses and some polyomaviruses pose a great danger to patients with compromised immune systems. Here, the scientists look for new target structures which enable new and more effective therapies to be developed.

  • Vaccines and targeted immune modulation
    Preventive and therapeutic vaccines present attractive options for preventing infection in immunocompromised patients. DZIF scientists develop new vaccine candidates.

  • Developing adoptive immunotherapies
    An attractive alternative to vaccines is to strengthen the immune system by transferring specific immune system cells, particularly memory T cells which have already undergone clinical trials in Munich.

Working Groups

  • Transplant Cohort
    Contact: Daniela Schindler, Klinikum Rechts der Isar der TU München

  • Research Group “Immune diagnostics of infection"
    Contact: Christina Zielinski, Technische Universität München

  • Research Group “Structural Virology”
    Contact: Thomas Krey, Hannover Medical School

  • Junior Research Group "Host control of viral latency and reactivation"
    Contact: Andreas Moosmann, Helmholtz Zentrum München

  • Junior Research Group "Molecular vaccine design"
    Contact: Angelika Riemer, Heidelberg University

Participating Sites



Interview with Dirk Busch, TTU "Infections of the Immunocompromised Host" [in German]

Dirk Busch, Technische Universität München


Thomas Schulz, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
Stefan Meuer, Universität & Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg

Project manager
Gesche Aurich