Why the HIRI stands out
Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI)—its name contains several clues as to why this institute can compete with the best in the world: Firstly, HIRI belongs to the Helmholtz Association and is thus part of a Germany-wide network of first-class research institutions. The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig is HIRI's parent institution, and both have significantly contributed to the understanding of COVID-19 and the societal discourse in the current pandemic. Secondly, HIRI occupies a unique research field with its work at the interface between RNA and infection biology. Thus, when SARS-CoV-2 threatened public health, HIRI’s research was brought into worldwide focus.
The HIRI is also very well connected in Würzburg, as it was the declared goal to better link the Helmholtz Association to the top German universities via the so-called Helmholtz Institutes. In the case of HIRI, this has certainly paid off: since the institute was founded, scientific collaborations have been established with the departments of virology, microbiology, biochemistry, and oncology at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg. Since early 2022, a JMU research group has been associated with HIRI. The group, under the leadership of junior professor Franziska Faber, is dedicated to better understanding dangerous hospital pathogens.
HIRI's success can be measured by its scientific publications, a kind of “currency” in research.
HIRI's success can be measured by its scientific publications, a kind of “currency” in research. In the past two years alone, HIRI has published more than 120 papers. Measured in relation to the institute's size, this is a fantastic figure. Not only the quantity but also the quality is excellent: some of these publications were published in the world's most renowned journals, such as “Nature”, “Science” or “Cell”.
Over the past five years, a real “HIRI spirit” has emerged that unites all researchers in their pursuit of scientific excellence. With over 100 employees from more than 20 nations, this spirit not only has a stimulating effect on research in Würzburg. In a short time, HIRI has made a name for itself and developed an appeal that is perceived worldwide.