Infectious Disease Epidemiology

Infectious Disease Epidemiology

The Institute for Infectious Disease Epidemiology investigates epidemiological determinants for the spread of infectious diseases particularly with respect to disease prevention in the general human population. The Institute addresses this goal by developing novel diagnostic tools: The scientists develop a differential serology platform to distinguish between antibodies resulting from naturally passed infections and those resulting from vaccination against these pathogens. For Hepatitis A virus the institute has already succeeded in the serological differentiation, which offers a tool in outbreak investigations to identify asymptomatic infections among vaccinated individuals or in longitudinal studies to study long-term effectiveness of vaccination campaigns. The vision is to expand this differential serology to other vaccine preventable pathogens with higher immunological complexities.

The institut conducts research and development on novel approaches of improving the sampling of biological samples form patients. Collecting high-quality bio-specimen for epidemiological research generates various challenges in large population based studies such as costs, difficulties in recruiting study participants and assurance of sufficient quality and quantity of the sample. It is also fundamental for personalized as well as remote medicine to close the spatiotemporal gap between sampling and analysis of bio-specimen. The institute aims to address these challenges by developing and validating novel procedures that can be applied by the participants themselves away from any particular medical facility and thus becoming applicable even in areas with poor infrastructure, such as in some areas of Africa.
This makes research activity possible, that so far cannot be addressed for procedural or technical barriers and to pioneer these methods for potential improvements of patient care in the future.

What is Infectious Disease Epidemiology?

Infection Epidemiology conducts research on the behavior of contagious diseases at the population level : Who is sick? Who stays healthy? What factors influence whether and how to spread an infectious disease? What other diseases are influenced by infections or even triggered? By systematic queries, clinical examinations and laboratory diagnostic documentation for both healthy and afflicted individuals, as well as statistical analysis of the compiled data, infection epidemiologists identify causes and risk factors for infections.

This means Infection epidemiology contributes to the development of preventive measures, early detection and therapy for diseases. Moreover, it examines the efficacy of such measures. Thus epidemiology is another link between basic research and medicine, and complements the translational activities at TWINCORE.

A bridge between TWINCORE and HZI

The Institute for Infectious Disease Epidemiology originates from the Epidemiology Department at the HZI. By maintaining a very narrow liaison between the two, TWINCORE links directly to the following strategically important epidemiological infrastructures:
The Study Centre of the German National Cohort, located within the Clinical Research Centre Hannover, neighbouring the TWINCORE premises, provides a unique opportunity to verify or apply research findings generated within TWINCORE within a large scale cohort study of 10.000 adults in Hannover and 200.000 throughout Germany.
The Translational Infrastructure Epidemiology (TI EPI) within the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF) fosters translational research, especially also developments of diagnostic tools as addressed by the Institute for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, thus building a functional link between TWINCORE and DZIF.