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Institute of Molecular Pathogenesis (IMP)

Together with the Institute of Bacterial Infections and Zoonoses (IBIZ), also located at the Jena site of the FLI, the Institute of Molecular Pathogenesis (IMP) represents the competence of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut in the field of bacterial infectious agents.

Tasks of the IMP are to characterize the interactions between bacterial agents causing animal diseases and zoonoses and their hosts on the molecular level, to evaluate the relevance of these findings for the organism as a whole, and to develop procedures for prophylaxis and control of infections of farm animals based on these results.
The institute has outstanding scientific expertise in

  • the elucidation of the systematics of chlamydiae and the development of control strategies for chlamydioses in animals and humans, and
  • the molecular epidemiology and diagnostics of mycobacterial infections in farm animals (bovine tuberculosis and paratuberculosis).

The institute is characterized by the close cooperation between scientists of different disciplines. The combination of methods of bacteriology, molecular biology and cellular microbiology enables the targeted identification of important bacterial virulence factors. For reliable investigations on the function of molecular structures of the pathogens and their antagonists in the host, the institute favors in vitro models with primary cell cultures of the target animal species. The influence of bacterial factors on the complex interactions of the organism as a whole is investigated in homologous animal experimental systems which simulate the course of infection and disease under standardized test conditions. In this stage, the most recent methods of physiology, pathomorphology, histology, and infection immunology are applied.

Outstanding methodical projects are

  • the development of innovative, microarray-based methods for rapid diagnostics and differentiation of the causative agents of notifiable animal diseases, reportable animal diseases and zoonoses and
  • the establishment of animal models for mucosal infections of farm animals (cattle, small ruminants, pigs and poultry) and their comprehensive morphological and functional characterization.

The IMP houses the following national reference laboratories (NRL): NRL Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia, NRL Paratuberculosis, NRL Bovine Tuberculosis, and for Verotoxin-forming Escherichia coli (VTEC). The NRLs, some of which also act as reference laboratories of the WOAH, fulfil a broad spectrum of official tasks with regard to surveillance and improvement of diagnostics for notifiable and reportable animal diseases and zoonoses on the national and international level.