Participating Institutes


Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology


Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry


Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History


Helmholtz Institute Jena


DLR Institute of Data Science


Jena University Hospital


Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering


Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology


Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology


Friedrich Schiller University Jena


Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena investigates the role, diversity and characteristics of chemical signals which control the interactions between organisms and their environment. Scientists from the fields of ecology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, entomology, ethology, and insect physiology work together in order to understand the complex system of chemical communication. Their research focuses on the co-evolution of plants and insects. The fact that plants usually spend their entire lives in one place forces them to use effective strategies to guarantee that their offspring are spread and also to protect themselves against pests and diseases. To this effect, plants have developed a wide range of chemical signalling compounds that enable them to optimize their adaptation to their respective environments. These so-called allelochemicals are used to, among other things, attract pollinators, fend off herbivores and pests, fight diseases and keep unwelcome competitors away. Plants also synthesize mixtures of many organic substances that have a deterrent or toxic effect on herbivores. As a countermeasure, insects that feed on plants adapt accordingly and, for their part, try to overcome plant defenses.


Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena conducts research into global material cycles and the associated chemical and physical processes. Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen are four elements that are crucial to life whose compounds are transported by plants, animals and microorganisms and distributed via the air and water. The researchers seek to gain a better understanding of the complex interaction between the organisms in the soil and the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as the influence of humans on these natural processes. How do ecosystems react to various climate conditions, land-use practice and species diversity? To this effect, the scientists compare historical data with current observations from field experiments and measurement campaigns in order to draw conclusions on the future adaptability of organisms. They also work closely with the Max Planck Institutes for Meteorology in Hamburg and Chemistry in Mainz.


Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History - collaboration ended in 2022

The former Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in Jena targeted fundamental questions of human history and evolution since the Paleolithic.

Helmholtz Institute Jena

The Helmholtz Institute Jena is an outstation of the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research on the campus of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. The institute is mainly focused on applied and fundamental research at the borderline of high-power lasers and particle accelerator facilities.

Thus, the HI Jena provides important contributions to future research projects currently being designed and built. Moreover, it will effectively strengthen FSU Jena’s research profile by facilitating new areas of research and significantly stimulate cooperation between the participating Helmholtz Centers and the University.


DLR Institute of Data Science

The main focus of research at the Institute of Data Science in Jena is on data management, analysis and processing of large and heterogeneous data. Furthermore, research is being conducted on topics such as IT security, smart systems (Industry 4.0) and Citizen Science. The work complements established research areas at the DLR institutes and extends DLR's core competences. In line with the thematic focus of the institute, four departments are to be established, which are supported by six DLR internal working groups during the build-up phase. The Institute for Data Science is based on a solid internal network with DLR institutes and will contribute in close cooperation with regional research and industry partners to solutions for the complex challenges of the topics Big Data, IT Security, Citizen Science and Smart Systems.


Jena University Hospital

The only university hospital in Thuringia has a longstanding tradition as medical and teaching hospital. Today, with more than 4900 employees the university hospital is one of the largest employers in the region. Its 26 clinical centers and 25 institutes provide care for 53,000 in- and 275,000 outpatients per year, as well as teaching for 2,500 students of medicine, dentistry, molecular medicine and medical photonics. At Jena University Hospital, scientists work both in the field of fundamental biomedical research and in patient-related clinical Research.


Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering

The Fraunhofer IOF conducts application-oriented research in the field of optical systems engineering on behalf of its clients in industry and within publicly-funded collaborative projects. The field of optical system engineering enables the step from specific optical, mechanical and electronic components to optical, opto-mechanical and opto-electronic modules and systems with complex functionalities. The objective is to control light, from its generation to its application. In this context, the sustainable energy-efficient use of light – "Green Photonics" – plays a special role for the Fraunhofer IOF

The Fraunhofer IOF provides the entire process chain, starting from system design to manufacture of prototype optical, opto-mechanical and opto-electronic Systems.


Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology

Photonics, the key light-based technology of the 21st century, is at the center of the research activities at the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology’s in Jena. In line with its motto "Photonics for Life", the scientists at IPHT are investigating photonic and biophotonic processes and systems to address issues in the fields of medicine and the life and environmental sciences. The insights gained from research are converted into application-oriented procedures, instrumental concepts, and laboratory samples. With this orientation, the institute contributes to the solution of pressing issues in our society, such as in health, energy, and the environment. The IPHT is involved in research and development at the interface of three focal points in research: fiber optics, photonic detection, and biophotonics. New photonic processes are being developed and transferred into innovative application-oriented Systems.


Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology

Microbial natural products serving as mediators of biological communication are essential for our lives. They do, however, play an ambivalent role: on the one hand, they contribute to the generation of many infectious diseases; on the other hand, they belong to the most important sources provided in drugs such as antibiotics.

Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute (HKI) – in Jena investigate the communication between microorganisms to be able to make use of the acquired know-how to develop innovative components for the diagnosis and therapy of diseases. By means of implementing those research results and the derived models thereof, the HKI contributes to the development of the systems biology of an infection.


Friedrich Schiller University

Maintaining traditions and shaping the future – these are the fundamental aims underlying all research and teaching at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU). The FSU is one of the venerable and most historic universities in Germany. Since its opening in 1558, the University has put Jena on the map internationally as a centre of academia. Today, it is the largest higher education institution and the only comprehensive University in the German state of Thuringia, and it attracts students of all subjects, as well as scientists from all over the globe.

The profile lines are the seed crystals for the University´s interdisciplinary research profile. This structure reflects the close collaborations within the University and with non-university research institutes. These collaborations gain suitable perspectives for the present and the future development. The triad LIGHT - LIFE - LIBERTY therefore reflects the continuing combination of tradition and future development.

A total of five university faculties are involved in the Cluster of Excellence Balance of the Microverse.

Faculty of Maths and Informatics
Faculty of Physics and Astronomy
Faculty of Chemistry and the Geosciences
Faculty of Bioscience
Faculty of Medicine


Collaborative Research

Jena School for Microbial Communication

The Jena School for Microbial Communication (JSMC) at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena is not only an Excellence Graduate School, but also a lively network of scientists from a broad variety of natural & life sciences institutes and an umbrella organization for three Research Training Groups in Jena. The JSMC was first awarded funding within the German Excellence Initiative in 2007. In June 2012 the Excellence Status of the JSMC was confirmed and funding for an additional five years was granted to the Graduate School. Today, JSMC hosts a total of about 135 doctoral researchers. The structured, interdisciplinary training program based on top-level fundamental research integrates different areas to form a comprehensive picture of microbial communication. Institutes at five faculties of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, six non-university research institutes as well as 12 partner companies are participating in this cutting-edge research and training program.


CRC/TR 124 FungiNet

CRC/TR 124 FungiNet – Pathogenic fungi and their human host: Networks of interaction

The yeast Candida albicans and the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus cause life-threatening invasive mycoses and have developed multiple sophisticated and specific pathogenicity mechanisms. In the CRC/Transregio FungiNet, scientists from Jena and Würzburg aim to identify pathogenic determinants, to investigate the role of the innate and the adaptive immune system for the pathogenesis of fungal infections, to elucidate the complex mechanisms of fungal infections and to identify common principles of fungal pathogenesis. The results will ultimately enable new therapeutic approaches.


CRC 1076 AquaDiva

CRC 1076 AquaDiva – Understanding the link between surface und subsurface biogeosphere

The CRC AquaDiva focuses on the important roles of water (Aqua) and biodiversity (Diva) for shaping the structure, properties and functions of the subsurface, below the highest density of plant roots down into the first aquifers (~100 meters) . The project seeks to answer fundamental questions about the subsurface: What biota live there? How do they interact with and reflect their environment? and How do they reflect surface properties? Answers to these questions are required to understand how increasing human activities impact this zone and, in turn, the services it provides.


CRC 1127 ChemBioSys

CRC 1127 ChemBioSys – Chemical mediators in complex biosystems

Exploring the regulation, activity and function of natural products in complex communities is the overarching research topic of the CRC ChemBioSys. For advances in medicine, biotechnology and ecology, insights into the mediators and regulation of multipartner interactions are needed. The scientists aim to elucidate novel chemical mediators and targets that are involved in structuring microbial communities and to understand the mechanisms that generate community structures and maintain their diversity. The long-term goal is the directed manipulation of biosystems using chemical mediators.


CRC 1278 PolyTarget

CRC 1278 PolyTarget – Polymer-based nanoparticle libraries for targeted anti-inflammatory strategies

The goal of the CRC PolyTarget is to develop polymer-based, nanoparticulate carrier materials for pharmaceutically active ingredients for targeted therapy of diseases and syndromes. With the aid of systematic particle libraries, structure-property relationships of polymers or nanoparticles and their biological effects are to be determined. New functional polymers are being developed to produce the nanoparticles. The aim is to increase the circulating time of nanoparticles in the body, achieve cell specificity by active or passive targeting and include suitable dyes in the carrier materials.


Industry Partners