Information in plain language

We are the Leibniz Institute of Virology, LIV for short. We are located in Hamburg in the north of the UKE campus.

[Translate to English:] Gebäude des LIV

Purpose of the Institute

The Leibniz Institute of Virology exists to learn more about viruses. Viruses can cause diseases in humans. The aim is to better understand how viruses live and how diseases develop. Through this research, we hope to find new ways to better protect people from viral diseases and treat them more effectively. The institute is working with various experts to achieve these goals together.

Research fields

Our research focuses on various diseases, such as AIDS, influenza, hepatitis and also novel infections such as COVID-19. By studying the basics of these viruses, we are trying to find better ways to treat them.The LIV studies a variety of viruses that are of global importance.

How research is done

At the LIV, viruses are researched in various ways:

  • Laboratory work: In special rooms, the laboratories, scientists examine the viruses in detail. They look at how the viruses work and how they cause diseases.
  • Data analysis: There are people at the institute who work with numbers and data. They analyse information that helps us to understand more about the viruses.
  • Microskopy: Microscopes are like a special magnifying glass for very small things. Researchers use microscopes to take a very close look at viruses and cells. This allows them to see what they look like and how they behave.
  • Sequencing: Sequencing is like reading a secret code. Researchers decipher the genetic information of viruses. This is important in order to understand how the viruses work and how they can be combated.
Mitarbeitende im Labor© Gisela Köhler

Team and employees

About 200 people work together at the LIV. There are researchers who are very knowledgeable in their field and lead a group. In addition to trained scientists, these groups include junior scientists and technical assistants. Then there are the people who work in the science support area, such as the technical or administrative staff. They make sure that everything is organised. 

Results and successes

The institute has helped to discover new findings, gain new information about viruses, better understand how they work and explain previously unknown aspects of viral diseases. For example, why men are more severely affected by coronavirus.

We are also involved in the development of therapeutic approaches. These can be new drugs, treatment methods or vaccines. For example, one of our groups has developed a method to cut the HIV virus that causes AIDS out of the genome so that those affected can be completely cured in the future.

We are also making a contribution to the healthcare system by using our findings to improve diagnostic procedures or monitor pandemics such as COVID-19. In one project, for example, we analyzed the coronavirus variants in Hamburg every week and were able to see which new variants were spreading.

Current projects

Researchers at the LIV are working on many different projects. For example, we want to answer the questions of how viruses manage to evade our immune system or how viruses are transmitted from animals to humans.


Leibniz-Institut für Virologie (LIV)
Martinistraße 52 (N63)
20251 Hamburg

Phone: 040/48051-0
Telefax: 040/48051-103 
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