Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Dpt. Chemical Biology (CBIO)

Department Head

Inhoffenstrasse 7
38124 Braunschweig

+49 69 531 6181 3400



Background and expertise of the representative

Mark Brönstrup is a chemist by training. He worked at Sanofi, a global pharmaceutical company, for 14 years in various functions in research and development. He was, inter alia, responsible for natural product research and the generation of lead compounds against tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant bacteria from natural resources. Since 2013, he heads the department ‘Chemical Biology’ at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany and is a member of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF). His research is devoted to antibacterial and antiviral drug discovery with a focus on natural product-derived lead optimization. For this purpose, key competencies like medicinal chemistry, natural product synthesis, antibacterial drug conjugates, mode of action studies through using pattern matching techniques (imaging, impedance measurements), peptide arrays, metabolomics, and chemical pulldown are gathered in the department. A special technique concerns the quantitative determination of drug concentrations into Gram-negative bacteria by LC/MS/MS, which is further developed and applied within IMI ENABLE and IMI TRANSLOCATION. The department also entertains a medium throughput screening unit with a 30K compound collection in S1-S3 labs, which is part of the EU OPENSCREEN infrastructure (foundation 2018). Mark Brönstrup is the coordinator of drug research activities within the Helmholtz Association.

Organisation profile

The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) is part of the Helmholtz Association, which represents Germany's largest scientific research organization with a total headcount of about 32,000 people. The HZI focusses on the program “Infection Research”. This program aims to solve the growing challenges in the field of infection research: Increasingly appearing resistances to antibiotics, easier transfer paths for pathogens due to our high mobility and the climate change as well as the growing number of elder people benefit the spread of infectious diseases. Our goal: To set up the basis for new diagnostic tools, new active agents and new therapies against infectious diseases. The single research projects of the HZI are subordinated to three topics within the research program: (i) Bacterial and Viral Pathogens; (ii) Immune Response and Immune Intervention; (iii) Anti-infectives. An intensive contact and exchange between the different topics secures the program’s success. The HZI has a longstanding and proven track record in drug discovery and development. For example, the anticancer drug epothilone was discovered from myxobacterial sources at the HZI. An optimized derivative of it is marketed as ‘Ixempra’ by Bristol Myers Squibb. Several successor compounds have completed late preclinical studies. The discovery and development of novel antibiotics, in particular against Gram-negative pathogens, is the current research focus of the topic 3 (Anti-infectives) of the HZI, which is pursued in close collaboration with the HIPS in Saarbrücken. Six departments and seven research groups are dedicated to the topic Antiinfectives, supported by the excellent HZI infrastructure, comprising an animal facility and ca. 10 technology platforms.

Contribution to the network

Mark Brönstrup will contribute his expertise in lead generation and lead optimization. This concerns aspects of medicinal chemistry and natural product chemistry, but also analytical techniques and mode of action studies (see above). In addition, the CBIO department can provide diverse compound collections and medium throughput screens using bacteria and/or host cells under S1-S3 conditions.