Heinrich Pette Institute

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The Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI) was founded in 1948 by Heinrich Pette, a German neurologist. It began as a research facility to create a polio vaccine. It is now a private foundation and involved with basic research in virology and the immune responses of organisms. The institute is a non-profit public beneficiary organisation and an independent member of the Leibniz Association, and is located at the University of Hamburg.


The aim of the research at the Heinrich Pette Institute is to develop new approaches for improved diagnostic techniques and therapies for viral diseases and virus-associated tumor diseases. Scholars of the HPI explore a wide range of viruses, such as hepatitis viruses (HPV, HCV), herpes viruses (HSV1, HSV2, EBV, KSHV), leukemia viruses (HTLV -1, MLV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and DNA tumor viruses (adenoviruses, SV 40). The drive towards practical applications of the results in diagnosis and treatment is reflected in numerous collaborations with clinical institutions and industry.

The HPI is divided into five research departments, two independent research groups and two independent junior research groups. The topics of the current working groups are:

Research Departments: • Antiviral Strategies • Structural Biology of Viruses • Viral Transformation • Virus Immunology • Virus-Host-Interaction

Research Groups: • Viral Zoonosis and Adaptation • Virus Genomics

Junior Research Groups: • Dynamics of Viral Structures • HCV Replication


The foundation in 1948 as the "Foundation For The Research Of Spinal Polio" was made possible by two people: the generous patron Philipp Reemtsma Fürchtegott, and the neurologist Heinrich Pette. The latter shaped the scientific concept and development of the institute until his death in 1964. After his death the Institute was renamed 'Heinrich Pette Institute for Experimental Virology and Immunology'. Since 1993 a cooperation agreement between the HPI and the University of Hamburg underlines the close relation to the university. The Institute's buildings were renovated and extended in 1967, 1995 and in 2006.


The Heinrich Pette Institute has collaborations on multiple levels with other research institutions. The HPI is a member of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Community.

It is located on the campus of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, and is due to the cooperation agreement linked closely to the University of Hamburg. The heads of departments are C4 or W3 professors, appointed in a procedure closely coordinated with the departments of medicine, chemistry and biology at the University of Hamburg.

The HPI alongside the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Research Center Borstel (RCB) is a founding member of the Leibniz Center Infection (LCI). Together, the three institutions harbor around 1,000 employees. The Leibniz Center for Infectious Disease Research aims at inventive and innovative basic research in the region of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.

The research center for pediatric hematology and oncology 'Forschungsinstitut Kinderkrebs-Zentrum Hamburg' has a part of the HPI's buildings. Based on the Public-Private Partnership the Society operates for the promotion of the replacement and expansion II of the Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology and is an independent research institute for pediatric hematology and oncology.

In cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, scientists proved that it is possible, using a customized enzyme (Tre recombinase), to excise the DNA of the HIV from the genome of individual cells to remove it. This demonstration is an important step in the development of a cure for AIDS (hence the extensive removal or containment of HIV infection).

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Coordinates: 53°35′36″N 9°58′24″E / 53.5934°N 9.9732°E / 53.5934; 9.9732