In the last years, the field of infectious disease research has changed dramatically, driven by seminal discoveries and by the advent of numerous novel powerful technologies. In particular, the fields of host pathogen interactions and innate immune responses have evolved fast and led to numerous conceptual changes. The availability of complete genome sequences of almost all human pathogens and their natural and model host organisms, of methods for genetic manipulation of host and microbe, of sophisticated in vivo measuring and imaging techniques, high throughput and high resolution proteomics and structure determination, have made it possible to look at questions regarding the interactions of pathogens and host with unprecedented detail. Making full use of these opportunities requires a large number of infrastructural resources. Even more importantly, these integrated approaches require intense interdisciplinary collaboration and a very large critical mass of excellent scientific teams.
The central aim of this IRTG, a cooperation between Hannover Medical School, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, the TWINCORE and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is to give young researchers the opportunity to perform their Ph.D. thesis in this rapidly moving field of the infection biology of human microbial pathogens in a highly stimulating, competitive, international environment. The core element of the programme is a joint research programme centering on the question how human microbial pathogens achieve acute or persistent infection and how the host organism reacts to persistent infection. Rather than focussing on one selected aspect of infection biology, multiple thematic foci have been selected with the goal of exposing the graduate students to the wide spectrum of modern infectious disease research, and taking advantage of the full breadth of faculty competence available at the three institutions involved in this IRTG.
Joint research goals in the fields of bacterial and viral infections are pursued in a total of 25 thesis projects (15 based in Germany and 10 in Sweden). In addition, a highly interdisciplinary joint study programme was set up which profits from the established infrastructure for graduate training available at both Hannover Medical School (Hannover Biomedical Research School, Center for Infection Biology) and Karolinska Institute (MTC Postgraduate Programme in Infection Biology)