Department of Biomedical Sciences

The Department of Biomedical Sciences (DBMS) consists of three research groups (ProtozoologyMicrobiology and Eco-epidemiology). We are recognised around the world as experts on parasites, (myco)bacteria and viruses. Together with our colleagues in the other departments and in collaborative networks outside ITM, we constitute a multi-disciplinary critical mass with direct impact on novel prevention and intervention strategies, as well as on health policies in low- and middle-income countries. We all share the philosophy to closely connect the excellence and relevance of basic and applied research with capacity strengthening and staff mobility between ITM and low- and middle-income countries.

  • Vision. To reduce suffering from tropical infectious diseases through fundamental insights into the pathogenesis and spread of pathogens and their vectors, including translation to better diagnostics, treatments, prevention and control measures for the global community.
  • Mission. To perform basic and translational research on the biology, ecology and epidemiology of selected pathogens.
  • Hypothesis. Despite concerted prevention, control, and elimination efforts to date, many infectious diseases continue to (re)emerge or persist. We hypothesize that this is attributable to the unique adaptive capacity of pathogens and the dynamic interplay with other pathogens, their vectors, their hosts and the environment.


Protozoology Research Group

The Protozoology Research Group is comprised of four research units performing basic and translational research on three major vector-borne protozoan parasites responsible for devastating diseases in humans and animals across the developing world: Leishmania (human leishmaniasis), Plasmodium (human malaria), Trypanosoma (human and animal African trypanosomiasis). Intensive control and elimination efforts are currently ongoing to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis in the Indian subcontinent, malaria in the three continents and HAT in Africa. Our research is closely connected to this as the acquired new knowledge and its translation into innovative tools for diagnosis and surveillance will enhance the ongoing disease-control/elimination programmes and their follow-up.


Microbiology Research Group

The Microbiology Research Group is comprised of three research units conducting fundamental and translational biomedical research to enhance the control of diseases caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. leprae, and M. ulcerans (Mycobacteriology Unit), arboviruses and HIV (Virology Unit and Experimental Immunology Unit). The group shares common research questions, expertise and technologies in fundamental and translational biomedical research to improve the diagnosis, treatment and surveillance of mycobacteria and viruses in tropical medicine, as well as to understand immunity against these pathogens and exploit it for exploring potentialities for new vaccines.


Eco-epidemiology Research Group

The Eco-epidemiology Research Group is comprised of four research units performing basic and applied research at the interface between pathogen, vector, host and environment: Entomology (UE), Veterinary Helminthology (UH), Medical Helminthology and Eco-modelling (EM). In a global context, many infectious diseases continue to (re)emerge with unexpected distributions and unprecedented intensities, while other endemic diseases persist. Recognising that pathogen-, vector-, animal- and human host populations interact with each other and with the environment, we apply a whole system approach (One Health, Eco-health) to understand the transmission and to improve the prevention, control and/or elimination of infectious diseases. We do this by interdisciplinary research, combining field epidemiology and ecology with lab-based research and modelling. Our focus is on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and malaria, with specific emphasis on vector-borne diseases, zoonoses, and parasite (co-)infections.


Coordinating units





16 Dec 2020

PhD defence Harvie Portugaliza (online)

Targeting Malaria Transmission: A Transdisciplinary Approach

06 Aug 2020

PhD defence Keshav Rai

Development of tools to determine the phenotype and genotype of Leishmania donovani for tracking treatment failure in anthroponotic visceral leishmaniasis in Nepal.

West Bengal State University, Kolkata

11 Jun 2020

PhD defence Vera Kühne (Online)

Alternative antigens for a point of care test for serodiagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis in East Africa