PIER Health and Infection
In Hamburg there are a large number of long-standing and closely interlinked partnerships between universities and independent research institutes which promote highly regarded infection research at both a national and international level, always with the aim of improving our understanding of the causes of infectious diseases as well as how we can prevent and treat them.
PIER Health and Infection aims to bring together and promote existing research in Hamburg into the structural biology of pathogens and infected cells through broader basic biomedical research and clinical research. Other fields that play a key role in this area are public health and implementation research, health economics, and health communication, as well as research into ethical issues. Furthermore, current research topics are to be identified on an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary basis, e.g. in the context of newly emerging epidemics.
As PIER Health and Infection's lead partners, the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) and Universität Hamburg, together with the Leibniz Institute of Virology (LIV) and the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), bring together the most important research strands. The addition of the experimental structure research facilities at Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld (CSSB, DESY, EMBL) means that research into all aspects of infectious diseases can be conducted within the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.
At the same time, successfully established collaborative research networks, such as the Leibniz Centre Infection (LCI) (together with Research Center Borstel) and Leibniz ScienceCampus InterACt, are mapped to create an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional science campus. In the field of applied transnational research, the UKE and Universität Hamburg, together with other university and independent partners, form one of seven German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) sites.
Through the PIER PLUS Seed Fund, UHH and LIV jointly fund a place for a PhD candidate on the “Knowing Vaccines: Policies, Practices, People” post-graduate programme. This programme seeks to explore the complex questions surrounding vaccination using an interdisciplinary approach, taking into consideration the historical, scientific, cultural, and political negotiation processes. It focuses on the interdisciplinary consideration of four integrated research fields: Medical History, Science & Technology, Public Health, and Anthropology of the Body.
Information about the wide range of COVID-19 research is provided, for example, by the UKE.
The approach adopted by the international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) initiative to develop a vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) provides a key example of how basic research into infectious disease can be successfully transferred into specific clinical applications. The aim is for Hamburg’s institutions to help stop global epidemics before they result in humanitarian emergencies.
Another promising approach to clinical research in which Hamburg’s institutions are involved in a “from bench to bedside” sense is the development of a therapeutic vaccine for treating hepatitis B infection, which affects approximately 260 million people worldwide.
Prof. Dr. Blanche Schwappach-Pignataro
- Prof. Dr. Blanche Schwappach-Pignataro (UKE)
- Prof. Dr. Marylyn Addo (UKE)
- Prof. Dr. Ulf Schmidt (UHH)
- Prof. Dr. Kay Grünewald (LIV)
- Prof. Dr. Tobias Lenz (UHH)