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Biomedical Center I

Bonn Center of Immunology (BCI)

About us

The immune system is essential for our health, yet its dysregulation is involved in the pathogenesis of many common diseases. With the concept of an immune sensory system, which integrates the sensingfunctions of immune and non-immune cells, the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation has made several seminal contributions, especially in the field of innate immunity. Our most important findings include the identification of novel receptor ligands, a new second messenger, new paradigms of cell-to-cell communication, a new classification of macrophage activation, insights into immunopathogenesis of cancer, a new target to restore cognitive function, and the impact of Western diet on trained immunity. Furthermore, our basic research has led to two start-up companies, with two compounds in clinical trials in immuno-oncology.

Based on these achievements of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation, the Bonn Center of Immunology (BCI) was founded as an interfaculty center within the Key Profile Area Life and Health of the University of Bonn. The BCI is the main platform for interactions with other local academic institutions, such as the DZNE and caesar. All structural developments of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation have now been consolidated into the BCI.

The Bonn Center of Immunology is an excellence center for immunology at all levels of structure, education, research and translation. The Bonn Center of Immunology is a joint structure of two faculties of the University of Bonn and the German Center for Degenerative Diseases (DZNE, Helmholtz) and with the MPI-associated center for advanced european studies and research (caesar). The core of the Bonn Center of Immunology is the longstanding, well-established collaboration of the Life and Medical Science (LIMES) Institute of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences with the groups at the Institutes of Immunosciences and Infection (I3) of the Medical Faculty and the DZNE.

Participating Institutions

The University of Bonn was founded in 1818 and is one of Germany’s, and Europe’s, most important institutes of higher education. As a home of learning to over 36.000 students, it enjoys an outstanding
reputation both at home and abroad. The University of Bonn is a research-based university that operates on an international level and maintains worldwide partnerships with over 70 universities. Nationally and internationally renowned specializations and combinations give the University of Bonn its particular academic and research profile. One key research area is “Life & Health” where researchers in Bonn focus on two systems: the nervous and the immune system. Excellence in this research area is perhaps best reflected in the Cluster of Excellence “ImmunoSensation”, which was established in 2012, and the Life & Brain GmbH who work in close collaboration with industry and commerce.

The University of Bonn works further very closely with research partner from Max Planck institutes, the Centre of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar), the Research Centre Jülich (FZJ), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Fraunhofer Society (FhG) institutes.

Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

At the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, the Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) is an internationally oriented center for biomedical research and higher education at the University of Bonn. The main scientific focus of the institute is to explore the regulation of lipid metabolism and the immune system in health and disease, and decipher the signaling processes that take place both within and on biomembranes. The LIMES Institute is involved in several national and international research networks and offers talented young students and researchers an ideal environment for interdisciplinary training, innovative research and development to independence.

Medical Faculty University of Bonn

At the Medical Faculty the Institutes of Immunosciences and Infection (I3) represent the core institutes of the research focus area "Immunology and Infectious Diseases". Founding members are the Institutes of Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology (G. Hartmann), Experimental Immunology (Ch. Kurts), Innate Immunity (E. Latz), Molecular Medicine (formerly V. Hornung, now H. Kato), Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology (A. Hörauf), Structural Biology (M. Geyer), Experimental Oncology (M. Hölzel) and Virology (formerly Ch. Drosten). The I3 provide a coordinated infrastructure to facilitate synergistic projects, promote young researchers and foster excellent training concepts. The core expertise includes immune sensing of nucleic acids, the inflammasome, immunobiology of cancer, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, and infectious diseases. The I3 co-operate in a number of interdisciplinary research initiatives, like the DFG-funded Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation and the International Research Training Group Bo&MeRanG (iGRK 2168), as well as the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) und German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).

University Hospital Bonn

The University Hospital of Bonn (UKB) is among the leading hospitals in Germany and internationally. The Medical Center in the former Capital of Germany is worldwide recognized for advanced medical care particularly for the treatment of complex disorders. It offers the whole spectrum of modern state-of-the-art medicine. Specialists from various fields in different departements cooperate closely to guarantee the best medical services for the patients. The hospital is situated on the Venusberg, in an area rich in forests and outdoor nature, overlooking the romantic Rhine valley.
The University Hospital Bonn has 32 clinics and 25 institutes and hosts about 8000 employees. More then 350.000 ambulant and 50.000 emergency patients are being treated annually.


The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is a key member of the Bonn Center of Immunology and has identified neuroinflammation and neuroimmunology as research areas pivotal to the elucidation of the mechanistic principles of neurodegenerative diseases. Together with the current cluster ImmunoSensation, the DZNE has undertaken major efforts to strengthen these research fields.
The DZNE is a member of the Helmholtz Association and the first of six German centers for health research (DZG) that were established by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to combat the most important widespread disease. The DZNE brings together excellent scientific expertise all over Germany and follows an interdisciplinary research approach. At ten sites including: Berlin, Bonn, Dresden, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Munich, Rostock / Greifswald, Tübingen, Ulm and Witten the DZNE works closely with universities, university hospitals and other partners.
The DZNE receives 90 percent of its funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent from the respective federal states containing DZNE sites.


1. Our central aim is to make the BCI a prime partner for national and international research consortia and a leading center for immunological research worldwide.

Given its interdisciplinary character, the strong identification of its members with such a collaborative center should be fostered, and the center needs a constant open door for incoming new members and a flexible structure.

2. We aim to establish one of the leading educational environments in immunology at an international level.

We will teach cutting-edge immunological expertise and state-of-the-art techniques to students to generate the future leaders of immunological research in academia, medicine, industry and the public sector. Our efforts span from excellent undergraduate and graduate programs to courses tailored towards postdocs, young group leaders and tenure-track professors. Study and educational programs will also attract students and young researchers from fields outside immunology, who will apply their knowledge on immunoscience to other disciplines in life science and medicine.

3. We will establish the Bonn School of Advanced Studies in Immunology to provide a unique educational and communication platform and further intensify our international exchange.

The school will host a variety of activities including advanced methods courses and three-month stipends for international scientists to participate in structured immunology think tank discussion rounds.

4. We will use multimedia communication technology to share our knowledge and scientific discoveries with the scientific community and the society.

We will reach out to decision-makers in politics and industry to raise public awareness of immune health and its connection to lifestyle and environment.

5. We have already successfully recruited many excellent students and scientists from all over the world.

English is the standart language of our scientific communication, and
several support structures already exist to help English-speaking students and scientists. However, the ultimate goal is to develop a
completely English-speaking environment including bilingual contracts and paperwork, as well as direct assistance for international scientists with establishing their laboratories in Bonn.

Graduate Program

The Bonn Center of Immunology complements the institutional strategy of the University of Bonn for early career support by focusing on specific measures to promote immunological researchers at all career stages.

For students, the number of places in the Bachelor’s program Molecular Biomedicine has been doubled, and two Master’s programs on immunology have been established: Immunobiology: from molecules to integrative systems and Medical Immunosciences and Infection.

For doctoral researchers, the University of Bonn has established Bonn International Graduate Schools (BIGS) in its designated areas of excellence in research. BIGS maintain close links with large-scale research projects (e.g. Collaborative Research Centers funded by the German Research Foundation) and in some cases with non-university research institutes, such as Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Centers, and Fraunhofer Institutes. BIGS provide English-language programs for graduate students from all over the world and have established numerous collaborations with renowned research

partners across the globe. They further
offer international exchange opportunities, thus preparing graduate students for a successful international career. We support early career scientists in the BIGS Immunosciences and Infection.

Doctoral researchers from groups of the BCI now have the opportunity to participate in the joint Bonn International Graduate School (BIGS) Immunosciences and Infection. Two graduate research training groups are integrated into the BIGS Immunosciences and Infection: The International Immunology Training Program Bonn (IITB) and the DFG-funded international research training group Bonn&Melbourne. Postdoctoral researchers can receive further training through the Bonn School of Advanced Studies in Immunology. This program aims to provide intensive advanced training that is geared towards the future high-level international careers of its participants. The Bonn School of Advanced Studies in Immunology will feature two types of training programs, one that offers structured training in immunological techniques and methods for postdocs who are already in Bonn and another for which international candidates will receive stipends for up to 6 months.

Chart on Career Development


We continually strive to increase diversity by providing an inclusive and supportive research community for scientists of all ages, genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations. We explore a new instrument for crowdsource-enabled talent searches around the globe and will invite candidates to the interdisciplinary short-term activities within the Bonn School of Advanced Studies in Immunology, with the central aim of unbiased recruitment of postdoctoral researchers. Furthermore, we aim to become one of the leading academic institutions in fostering gender equality and the attractiveness of Bonn for young families by offering a coordinated set of measures to reduce organizational burdens and improve the quality time of family life.