IFIK is home to basic and clinical research groups (view links below for detailed information). Currently, more than 30 researchers with backgrounds in medicine and biological sciences work in the IFIK research department. The 3 main research focuses are antimicrobial resistance development, infections of the central nervous system (CNS), and airway and gut mucosal microbial health and infection.
The major human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae is central to the research of several groups within the Pneumococcal Research Cluster and IFIK also houses the National Centre for Invasive Pneumococci where clinical isolates are characterized. S. pneumoniae is an important cause of bacterial meningitis, as well as pneumonia, and the Leib group researches how brain damage is caused and tests potential treatments. The Hathaway group studies communication between S. pneumoniae and other bacterial members of the respiratory microbiota, whereas the Hilty group characterizes the human respiratory microbiota in health and disease at the molecular level.
Microbial infection and the evolution of multi-resistant organisms need to be studied in the context of the normal microbiota which colonizes skin and mucosal surfaces and helps to protect our bodies from infection. IFIK has therefore increased its efforts in studying complex microbial consortia and invested in cutting-edge metagenomics and gnotobiotic technology. This enabled IFIK researchers to comprehensively characterize complex human microbiobiomes in health and disease (Hilty group), as well as building simplified or artificial model microbiotas in vivo to better understand how they function and communicate with the host organism (Hapfelmeier group).
IFIK also plays an active role in the training and mentorship of students of the Medical and Science Faculties of the University of Bern (Master, PhD, and MD-PhD programs).