Senckenberg Graduate School

International Multidisciplinary Parasitology and Vector Biology (IMPact-Vector)


Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum

The Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum (= Senckenberg) conducts research in the bio- and geosciences. Its main emphasis lies on biodiversity and ecosystem research as well as the systematic investigation of the relationship between Earth and Humans. In addition to its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, Senckenberg maintains institutions in Dresden, Gelnhausen, Görlitz, Hamburg, Messel, Müncheberg, Tübingen, Weimar and Wilhelmshaven, including display museums in Frankfurt, Görlitz and Dresden.

The society’s scientific collections comprise approximately 38 million preserved plants,animals, fossils and minerals. Furthermore, Senckenberg has access to top-of-the-line analytics, among others, in the areas of molecular genetics and isotope analysis. Senckenberg research focuses on the dynamic system Earth. We conduct “geobiodiversity research” using an integrative approach: Senckenberg scientists study the role that the diversity of life - biodiversity - plays in the Earth system. We unravel the interconnections of life forms with the other parts of the Earth system: the atmosphere, water, ice, soil, rock and – last not least – mankind.

Because we need to understand the Earth system in order to maintain its function as the very basis of man’s existence. Senckenberg scientists research the present and the past - and eventually generate future projections. The Senckenberg research institutes provide excellent preconditions for this approach: The most modern infrastructure is used by the 250 plus Senckenberg scientists. In addition, Senckenberg houses Germany’s largest natural history collections – an invaluable basis for biodiversity research in all its facets. “World of biodiversity” – the Senckenberg claim thus describes our research programme, which is divided into four large research fields:

I. Biodiversity and Systematics

II. Biodiversity and Ecosystems

III. Biodiversity and Climate

IV. Biodiversity and Earth System Dynamics

Senckenberg scientists are active worldwide: From the jungles of Bolivia to the Mongolian steppe and from the deep sea to the Tibetan Plateau. They co-operate with the most renowned research institutions in many countries. The education of young scientists is a further, most important task for Senckenberg. Currently, about 200 students, PhD students and postdocs are active at the six Senckenberg institutes.


Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) investigates the vitality and adaptability of wildlife populations in mammalian and avian species of outstanding ecological interest that face anthropogenic challenges. It studies the adaptive value of traits in the life cycle of wildlife, wildlife diseases and clarifies the biological basis and development of methods for the protection of threatened species. Such knowledge is a precondition for a scientifically based approach to conservation and for the development of concepts for the ecologically sustainable use of natural resources. We use adaptability as a term to describe the evolutionary (genetic and phenotypic) potential to respond to natural or anthropogenic environmental change. This response includes both the resistance, the extent to which wildlife is affected in the short term by some environmental change, and the resilience, the speed at which an individual, population, species or species community recovers after a challenge.

Our vision is to achieve two goals:

1. Understanding adaptability: We want to contribute to the development of a comprehensive predictive framework that explains why some wildlife species are threatened by anthropogenic change while others persist or even thrive in degenerated or novel habitats.

2. Improving adaptability: Based on this predictive framework, we aim to design appropriate concepts and methods for conservation intervention when natural mechanisms of adaptability are likely to fail.

The IZW is a member of the Leibniz Association and the Forschungsverbund Berlin e. V.


Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine

The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine is Germany’s largest institution for research, services and training in the field of tropical diseases and emerging infections.

Research topics include clinical studies, epidemiology and disease control as well as the biology of the respective pathogens, their reservoirs and vectors. The present scientific focus is on malaria, haemorrhagic fever viruses, tuberculosis and tissue nematodes. To study highly pathogenic viruses and infected insects, the institute is equipped with laboratories of the highest biosafety level (BSL4) and a BSL3 insectary. Outstanding scientific achievements in the recent past include the identification of the SARS coronavirus and the discovery of a previously unknown developmental stage of malaria parasites in humans.

Services of the institute include specific laboratory diagnostics of tropical diseases, emerging and other rare infections, a close co-operation with the German army as well as consultation of the scientific community, industry, politics and the public, which greatly contribute to the national standing of the institute. The institute comprises the German National Reference Centre for all tropical pathogens, a reference laboratory for SARS and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus and Haemorrhagic Fever Reference and Research.

Teaching activities include a 3-month, full-time course on all aspects of tropical medicine for physicians, further a structured training programme for PhD students and a number of activities of continuing education in topics related to travel medicine and international health.

In co-operation with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, the institute since more than ten years runs the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR), a modern research and training centre in Ghana, which is also available to external research groups.

As a member of the Leibniz Association and a research institute of national importance, the institute is jointly funded by the Federal Government, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the other federal states.


Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries

The Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries was founded on 1 January 1992. Its establishment, recommended by the German Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat), brought together three former East German (GDR) research institutes: (i) the biological and fishery experimental station in Friedrichshagen, Berlin, (ii) the research station on the shores of Lake Stechlin, and (iii) the Institute of Geography and Geoecology; two of the institutes belonged to the Academy of Sciences. In 2000, the Institute joined the Leibniz Association (WGL).

The IGB is an independent and interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to the generation, dissemination, and application of knowledge about freshwater ecosystems and inland fisheries. By working in close partnership with the scientific community worldwide (universities, research institutes), government agencies, and the private sector, innovative tools are developed to meet the existing and emerging challenges faced by freshwater ecosystems and human societies.

The goals of the institute are:

• to advance the fundamental, mechanistic understanding of the ecology, evolution and long-term dynamics of freshwater biodiversity and ecosystems (science);

• to provide scientific knowledge required for the sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems (application);

• to train a new generation of freshwater scientists capable of developing solutions for achieving environmental sustainability (education);

• to strengthen the public understanding of the pivotal role of freshwater ecosystems for human well-being (information).

To achieve these goals, IGB carries out cutting-edge research in freshwater ecology and inland fisheries. Scientists at IGB cover a wide range of disciplines, from hydraulics to socio-economics, from molecular biology to catchment modelling, and from microbial ecology to fish behaviour.

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