Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos. There is no pre-emptive vaccine.© CDC/James Gathany

Every year, approximately 200 million people contract malaria, predominantly in Africa. Parasites, so-called plasmodia, are responsible for this tropical disease. They are transmitted by mosquito bites. Symptoms of malaria include high recurrent fever alternating with fever-free phases, as well as chills and gastrointestinal symptoms. Particularly children under the age of five frequently die of the disease.

The fight against malaria is slow, despite extensive research: scientists’ work is impeded by regional variations of the pathogen, genetic differences in the affected population groups, co-infections with other pathogens and increasing resistance to the available drugs. Consequently, DZIF researchers in the research field “Malaria” in Tübingen, Heidelberg and Hamburg-Lübeck-Borstel-Riems also follow unconventional approaches: they test and improve vaccination procedures and develop parasite inhibitors. Additionally, they conduct research on the regional spread of the malaria pathogen in order to optimally plan intervention measures in the affected regions. African Partner Institutions in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Gabon play a crucial role in conducting different research projects.

Central Themes

  • Prevention
    Despite intensive efforts, there are no reliable malaria vaccines available to date. At the University Hospital Tübingen, DZIF researchers test and optimize new vaccination procedures.

  • Diagnosis
    DZIF researchers aim to develop and evaluate new diagnostics that have high sensitivity, specificity and prognostic value. They are to enable a differentiation between malaria and other febrile diseases in children living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Treatment
    Further development of new promising parasite inhibitors from preclinical through to clinical phases.
  • Epidemiology
    Investigating the regional spread of the parasite in order to enable effective planning of malaria interventions in endemic regions.

Working Groups

  • Exploring asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum: Targeting the dry season reservoir of infection
    Contact: Silvia Portugal, University Hospital of Heidelberg
  • Professorship/ Clinical Trial Platform
    Contact: Benjamin Mordmüller, University Hospital of Tübingen
  • Professorship/ Clinical Research Group (Lambaréné)
    Contact: Ayola Akim Adegnika, Lambaréné, Gabun
  • Research Group "Mathematical Modeling and Biostatistics"
    Contact: Ralf Krumkamp, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg

Participating Sites



Interview with Peter Kremsner, TTU "Malaria" [in German]

Peter Kremsner, Universität & Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

Michael Lanzer, Universität & Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg
Jürgen May, Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin

Project manager
Maddalena di Lellis