The History of the Institute

In 1948 the institute was established as Foundation for the Research of Spinal Poliomyelitis principally by two individuals: The generous philanthropist Philipp Fürchtegott Reemtsma created an endowment fund from the inheritance bequeathed by his mother to his son, who had died of polio; and the neurologist Heinrich Pette drafted and moulded the scientific concept and development of the institute. Upon the founder’s passing in 1964, the institute was renamed Heinrich Pette Institute for Experimental Virology and Immunology at Hamburg University (HPI). In addition to honouring Heinrich Pette, this name reflected the institute’s close link with the University of Hamburg, with which a cooperation agreement exists since 1993.

Altes Labor des Heinrich Pette Instituts

In 1955 the institute was incorporated into the association of research institutes supported by the federal and state governments according to the Königsteiner Treaty. The associated institutes were named the Blue List Institutes in 1977. Later, the Blue List Institutes were transferred to the Scientific Community Blue List (WBL), which was renamed  the Leibniz Association (WGL) in 1997. The institute has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1995, its affiliation shown clearly by its renaming in 2011 to The Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI).

With regard to a future-oriented and international focus, the institute founded by Heinrich Pette was finally renamed Leibniz Institute of Virology(LIV) in 2022.


  •  1948: The foundation was established
  • 1955: The foundation was incorporated into the association of institutes supported by the ‘Königsteiner Abkommen’ (renamed ‘Blue List Institutes’ in 1977)
  • 1964: After the passing of Professor Dr. Heinrich Pette the institute was renamed ‘Heinrich-Pette-Institute for Experimental Virology and Immunology at the University of Hamburg’ (HPI).
  • 1967, 1995, 2006: The institute buildings were renewed and expanded
  • 1995: The Leibniz Association (WGL) superseded the ‘Blue List Working Committee’ (Blue List Institutes)
  • 1996, 2002, 2009: Assessments by the WGL’s Scientific Advisory Board (1996) and Senate 
  • 2011: The foundation was renamed the ‘Heinrich Pette Institute - Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology’ (HPI)
  • 2022: The foundation was renamed the ‘Leibniz Institute of Virology’ (LIV)