Infectious diseases claim millions of human lives every year, especially in developing countries, and represent one of the most common causes of death in the world. They are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Pandemics and hospital infections are feared in the more affluent nations. Added to this is the fact that the significance of infectious agents in diseases of the cardiovascular system, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders and cancer is still frequently underestimated. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology are concerned with the impact of pathogens on the organism. Their work focuses on the causes of malaria, tuberculosis, serious gastro-intestinal diseases (such as stomach cancer) and influenza. In addition to the pure acquisition of knowledge, the scientists also focus on the development of innovative vaccines and drugs.