The Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) was established in May 2017 as a joint venture between the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig and the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg (JMU). The HIRI is the first research institution worldwide to exclusively address the role of ribonucleic acids (RNA) in infection processes.


What we do

At HIRI, scientists investigate so-called ribonucleic acids (RNA) and their role in infectious diseases. RNAs are transcripts of genetic material and serve, among other things, as carriers of genetic information, but also have regulatory functions.

For example, during an infection, the RNA molecules of a disease-causing agent  interact with those of the infected cell to enable the pathogen to survive and to multiply within the host.

To date, little is known about the regulatory role of RNAs in infections. This is where the research of the HIRI sets in.

Based on novel findings, innovative therapeutic approaches are developed at HIRI in an integrated research approach and made clinically usable through the development of pharmaceutical forms of application.



HIRI - a unique alliance


Founded in 1402, the Julius-Maximilian-Universität Würzburg (JMU) is an internationally acclaimed university with a 600 year history. Numerous acclaimed scholars and scientists have worked at the JMU, including Rudolf Virchow and Nobel laureate Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. The JMU is one of the leading institutions of higher education in Germany and internationally ranks highly in many scientific disciplines including biology, medicine, physics, and psychology. Today, the JMU is home to more than 29,000 students, including over 2,700 from abroad.

A core activity of the JMU is to foster interdisciplinary research. This successful structural approach has led to the establishment of many highly visible institutions, e.g. the Biocenter, the Institute of Molecular Infection Biology, the Research Center for Infectious Diseases, the Rudolf Virchow Center for Experimental Biomedicine, the HIRI and a Max Planck Research Group “Systems Immunology”.

University Würzburg

ABOUT THE Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI)

Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig investigate issues related to bacterial and viral pathogens, immune surveillance, and novel anti-infective agents. The HZI pursues a translational approach, in which scientists develop results of basic research systematically with an emphasis on medical application. The HZI is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Germany’s largest scientific organization, and a founding member of the German Center for Infection Research e.V. (DZIF).


Work Ethics & Infrastructure

The tight interconnection of research and management is of great importance for our work at HIRI. We strive on excellence both in and out of the lab. Hence, HIRI provides state-of-the-art infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies to foster scientific advancement, interdisciplinary cooperation and outreach activities. To provide for a good work-life-balance we have created a family-friendly atmosphere with flexible working hours, a parent-child room and regular social activities.



Your chance to become part of the future of RNA & Infection! Learn more about scientific career opportunities at HIRI and find out about our current vacancies. We are seeking skilled and motivated talents to advance our mission to investigate the role of RNA in infection.


Graduate Training Programme “RNA & Infection”

Our graduate training programme is dedicated to training the next generation of scientists to undertake cutting-edge research at the interface of RNA and infection biology. Explore the details of the programme and find out about current calls.

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