MUNICH/WÜRZBURG The location of Würzburg prevailed in the largest nation-wide competition of non-university research funding. After the Helmholtz Institute for research on energy was built in Erlangen-Nuremberg, the Senate of the Helmholtz Association identified another Bavarian location in which to found an institute: Würzburg. This means that two of the five approved Helmholtz Institutes will be located in Franconia. Würzburg will be an ideal location for the institute: Scientists at the Research Center for Infectious Diseases are already carrying out studies in the same field at the university. Their work is interdisciplinary and conducted at a very high level, and they are both networked and highly-respected internationally. The new non-university Helmholtz Institute is to provide fresh impetus to these endeavours and establish Würzburg as an international centre for research on infectious diseases. Minister of Economic Affairs and Technology Ilse Aigner, who is also a Senate member of the Helmholtz Association, is convinced that the new institute in Lower Franconia will be successful. In addition to the excellent scientific infrastructure in Würzburg, the minister emphasizes the outstanding financial conditions: “We created the financial requirements for the development phase of the institute to the tune of more than EUR 46 million in the Bavarian budget, because we are absolutely confident in the project. I'm very happy that the application was able to win out against nearly two dozen contenders.” Even the President of the Bavarian state parliament Barbara Stamm, the Bavarian state secretary of finance Eck and Oliver Jörg, member of the Bavarian state parliament for the city of Würzburg, welcomed the establishment of the new Helmholtz Institute in Lower Franconia.
The Helmholtz Institute is a cooperation between the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig and the Julius-Maximilian University of Würzburg. The goal is to research ribonucleic acids (RNA) and the role they play in infection processes. RNA offers enormous potential as a point of attack for medicine and as a therapeutic agent. Helmholtz President Professor Otmar Wiestler: “We brought about the Helmholtz Institutes in order to jointly work on future topics in close cooperation with a university in the long term. They have shown themselves to be an outstanding model for this over the past years, and the new institute will be another strong example of this in the field of infectious disease research. I assume that it will become important far beyond research on infectious diseases.”
Franconia, formerly lacking Helmholtz and Max Planck institutes, has thus risen to playing in the Champions League of international research. On 5th October 2016, the minister inaugurated the new institute buildings for the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen and will create the statutory requirements for an Erlangen-based Max Planck Centre for Physics and Medicine later this year.