Pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses represent major threats to human health and wellbeing. Many of these microbes are especially dangerous for very young, frail elderly, immune-compromised or critically ill individuals, as well as patients with particular physiological or dermatological disorders.

Healthy individuals are also at risk, and this is most clearly evident in the less affluent regions of our planet where infectious diseases are still a major cause of morbidity and mortality.

On the other hand, certain species of the human microbiota have potent health-promoting activities or barrier functions in the prevention of infections caused by pathogenic microbes. This imposes a clear need for fundamental, translational and clinical application-oriented research on the very diverse beneficial and detrimental roles of microbes in human health and disease (MHD).

SyStems Biology approaches 

Since the dynamic behavior of biological systems is sustained by complex networks of interactions between their individual components, we use SyStems Biology approaches to integrate the results of interdisciplinary studies on microbes at the molecular, cellular, organism and community levels by theory-based and mathematical modelling.

Pathogenic microbes do not respect national borders, and the MHD program is therefore embedded in a strong network of cross-border and international collaborations.

Relevance

Fighting untreatable microbial infections and conditions

Europe and other developed regions have ageing societies that are increasingly susceptible to bacterial, fungal and viral infectious diseases. At the same time, antibiotic resistance, accelerated by insufficient antibiotic stewardship and drug abuse in veterinary practice, is developing fast and catching up with formerly effective measures to prevent or fight infections.

Completely untreatable microbial infections and conditions like those in the 'pre-antibiotics era' are rapidly emerging, which will have a major impact on healthy ageing in the very near future.

  • In developed countries, untreatable infections form an increasing threat for very young, frail elderly, immune-compromised and critically ill individuals.
  • In less privileged parts of the world the burden of infectious diseases is much higher and here untreatable infections, including multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB) and viral epidemics, are serious threats, also for healthy individuals.

We bring together expertise in drug research that are key for preventing infections, fighting infections and harnessing the potentially beneficial effects of microbes.