Leibniz institutions form collaborative research alliances which use inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to address current scientific and socially relevant issues.
The alliances are designed for a period of five to 15 years. They are open for collaboration with universities, other non-university research institutions and infrastructure facilities as well as research groups abroad.
The Leibniz Research Alliance INFECTIONS’21 will combine the expertise of 14 institutions from 3 sections of the Leibniz Association and selected external partners, spanning biomedical, ecological, socio-economic and political sciences to address overarching issues in infection control. INFECTIONS’21 will develop a culture of interdisciplinary communication across scientific fields and a tool-box of approaches and methods that allow a holistic view of the transmission of infectious agents to which all disciplines equally contribute. The Alliance's distinctive disciplines will generate optimal synergy to study the various facets of transmission as an essential step in the infectious process and important point of intervention for infection control. For this purpose, INFECTIONS'21 identified 4 prototypical cooperative research projects, which will be performed by Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) exploring
- incentives to reduce ongoing transmission of HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis in marginalized populations,
- environmental conditions limiting or promoting infectious aerosol distribution,
- open waters as hubs for inter-species infection spread, and
- climate change and the appearance of novel infections in Germany.
All IRGs are truly cross-sectional combining a distinct variety of methods and scientific approaches including the involvement of the general public by a Citizen Science module and regular public lectures by INFECTIONS'21 scientists. Important tools to close the gap of communication between the different research fields include regular meetings, capacity building events between the disciplines and joint supervised PhD students. The IRGs are starting points for a global approach to answer pressing questions concerning how infection spreading is linked to climate change, economical transformation and societal transition. Tangible outcomes will be early warning systems for emerging pathogens, better-guided management of infection outbreaks, improved transmission control with enhanced compliance and innovative political strategies to strengthen the overall capacity to respond to infectious disease challenges. Most importantly, once established, a functioning “Leibniz” way of cross-disciplinary problem-solving will greatly facilitate partnering for multiple third-party-funded projects that have a measurable impact on human health and society.
Valuable and affordable medical care is an important challenge for society, especially in view of an ageing population. Medical care is the main focus of the Leibniz Research Alliance "Leibniz Health Technology: Prevention, Diagnosis, Thearpy".
The alliance carefully develops innovative procedures that aid early disease detection, better control the effects of therapy and can easily be adapted to individual patients. These procedures improve treatment methods while minimising their negative impact on patients. Telemedical and improved imaging examination methods, as well as the development of rapid testing designed for mobile use, also play an important role. Medical professionals, scientists and engineers work together intensively to ensure that the technical solutions adequately address the medical problems. Social scientists investigate questions of marketability and how society will respond to newly developed products.
Bioactive Compounds and Biotechnology
Medical research, secure agricultural production, a modern healthy diet and personal hygiene are unimaginable without the development of active pharmaceutical agents.
Active agents are molecules that cause a defined physiological change in target organisms. Many active agents are derived from nature and are optimised for application using biotechnological or chemical processes. The best known active agents are the active ingredients in pharmaceuticals such as acetylsalicylic acid in Aspirin or Taxol in cancer drugs. But active agents of high social or economic relevance are also found in plant protection products to secure crop yields, in foods, for example as flavour additives or substances with preventive health benefits, as well as in cosmetics (such as active ingredients for skin problems).
Our rapidly changing, growing and ageing modern society demands continuous responses to new challenges. In addition, modern active agents must meet ever higher demands in terms of efficacy, novelty and safety which means a firm grounding in toxicology is required for competent risk assessment.
Involving 17 institutions, the Leibniz Research Alliance Bioactive Compounds and Biotechnology bundles the Leibniz Association's broadly-based research on molecules with biological effects.