Infectious Disease Epidemiology

The Institute of Infectious Disease Epidemiology focuses it research activities on understanding spread, risk factors and consequences of infectious diseases, with a special emphasis on preventing infectious diseases in the general population, the development of novel adaptive diagnostic methods for epidemiological studies as well as digital and modelling tools to monitor, predict and reduce burden of infectious diseases. 

To understand the spread and burden of infections in the population we perform clinical and population-based studies and use statistical and epidemiological modelling to analyze and predict current and future dynamics. Relevant epidemiological indicators of protection, infection and reinfection for different infection in the population are assessed via novel adaptive diagnostic tools developed here at TWINCORE. For this, we focus on multiplex-based antibody detection methods to detect past infections while at the same time determine levels of protective immunity to prevent an infection or reinfection in different population-relevant infectious diseases. These diagnostic tools are scalable to large epidemiological studies and can be developed fast and efficiently also for emerging pathogens as proven during the last pandemic. 

Complementing these assessments and analyses, digital tools and hubs that we develop focus on reducing burden of infectious diseases by supporting infectious disease surveillance, conduct of epidemiological studies and monitoring epidemiological situations to inform on current epidemic dynamics. 

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 of Infectious Disease Epidemiology emerged from the Department of Epidemiology at the HZI. Due to the very close liaison between the two units, TWINCORE is directly linked to the following epidemiological infrastructure facilities:

The CRC Study Center, located in the CRC (Clinical Research Centre) building in Hannover in close proximity to the TWINCORE, offers a unique opportunity to verify and utilize TWINCORE based-research outcomes. It is one study site of the NAKO cohort study including more than 10,000 participants from Hannover (overall more than 200.000 participants in Germany). Further studies that use the study centre as a study site are MusPAD (link) and the senior cohort of RESIST.  With a dedicated team of experienced researchers, study nurses, medical doctors and documentation staff and 6 fully equipped examination rooms the centre is well suited to support the design, conduct and analysis of both clinical and population-based studies on different topics. Additionally, any researchers are always welcome to approach us, if additional assessments in our running cohorts, e.g. MuSPAD, could be of benefit for a specific research question.  

The Translational Infrastructure Biodata, Bioresources and Digital Health that we are co-coordinating of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) promotes and supports translational research, especially by conducting epidemiological studies, meta-analyses, dynamic infectious disease modeling and evaluating and developing of digital healthcare tools. This also creates a functional link between TWINCORE and the DZIF.

Digital Tools, modelling platforms and data hubs: With PIA, we provide a digital tool that allows the conduct of large epidemiological studies on infectious diseases. SORMAS is a digital tool that supports infectious disease surveillance worldwide.  With RESPINOW, the link to the Modelling network for severe infectious diseases (MONID) and the development of the serohub, we provide capacity and expertise for any analysis or simulation that need dynamic modelling or access to a collaborative network of epidemiological studies and their estimates.