Research with the best view

Just in time for the institute's 30th anniversary: HKI Biotech Center inaugurated

Institute Director Axel Brakhage (centre) cuts the symbolic ribbon in front of the new building together with Thuringia's Science Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, Administrative Director Elke Jäcksch, Vice President of the University of Jena Kim Siebenhüner, President of the Leibniz Association Matthias Kleiner and Mayor Thomas Nitzsche (from right to left). Source: Anna Schroll/Leibniz-HKI

By Ronja Münch

Jena. Together with renowned representatives from science and politics, the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knöll Institute (Leibniz-HKI) celebrated the inauguration of the latest new research building on the Beutenberg campus. After completing nearly three years of construction, the HKI Biotech Center will now house more than 80 researchers bridging the gap between basic and applied research.

This Thursday, Thuringia's Science Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee officially presented the HKI Biotech Center to Leibniz-HKI with a ceremony to mark the handover of the keys. "The HKI has developed very successfully in recent years, particularly with respect to federally and state funded research projects on molecules active against infectious diseases. The new laboratory building is another important step towards continuing to deliver excellence in research and developing the Beutenberg Campus into an internationally renowned center of interdisciplinary research," said Tiefensee.

"I am really very grateful to our sponsors, the Free State of Thuringia and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and of course to the Leibniz Association, for continuing to intensively support research and technology development even in times of great restrictions on public budgets, as can be impressively seen here today," said Institute Director Axel Brakhage, expressing his thanks. He thanked the city of Jena for its supportive and constructive cooperation in all matters of approval. The inauguration marks the beginning of another important phase in the successful development of the institute. However, he said, the magnificent building only comes to life through the team that inhabits it. "It is thanks to their commitment that we, with this newly completed building, have achieved a new level of quality research infrastructure that will serve the Leibniz-HKI, the Beutenberg Campus and Jena."

For the modern research building, two smaller laboratory buildings had to make way, which - formerly used as animal houses - had long since no longer met the requirements for modern laboratory workplaces. The new building offers over 2,000 square meters of space for a total of 80 employees. In addition to laboratory and office space on three floors, the HKI Biotech Center also houses a cafeteria and two seminar rooms. An underground parking garage also relieves the tight parking situation at the Beutenberg campus.

"Leibniz-HKI, with its research groups housed in the Biotech Center, stands for entirely new concepts in knowledge-based research with a high potential for future applications," emphasizes Matthias Kleiner, President of the Leibniz Association. He underlines the importance of the Leibniz-HKI in the Leibniz Association with its goal of using biotechnological processes to develop new active agents and therapy concepts in the fight against infectious diseases and increasing antibiotic resistance. "Leibniz-HKI has already demonstrated in the past that the ideas developed here can lead to successful spin-offs with direct benefits for society, including innovations in medicine and new high-tech jobs in the region - after all, some HKI spin-offs now have more employees than the institute itself," says Matthias Kleiner.

Kim Siebenhühner, Vice President for Studies and Teaching at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, looked back on the successful development as a historian: "The concept devised by Hans Knöll in Jena of using the performance of microorganisms to research and combat infectious diseases still holds true today. Thanks to the constant supply of new ideas that several generations of researchers have been able to develop freely under good working conditions, the Leibniz-HKI has always been a place of teaching and learning in the best sense of the word. The close cooperation between the university and the institute is a great benefit for both sides. The new building once again greatly increases the attractiveness of the Beutenberg campus for students and doctoral candidates."

The new building was necessitated by the rapid development of Leibniz-HKI in recent years. Numerous large research projects funded by the federal government and the Free State of Thuringia have led to a sharp increase in the number of employees, sitting at about 450 today.

On the occasion of the last evaluation by the Leibniz Association in 2014, an international expert commission attested to outstanding scientific achievements from the institute and recommended the new building. The construction costs of 27.5 million euro will be borne in equal parts by the federal and state governments.

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