About the Institute

The Research Institution BNITM

Founded in 1900, the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), originally a department of the Hamburg Health Authority, has been an independent, non-profit research institution in the form of a foundation under public law based in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg since 2008. In accordance with the purpose of the foundation, the BNITM is dedicated to research, teaching, training and further education as well as counselling and care in the field of tropical diseases and emerging infectious diseases.


The institute buildings against a blue sky
New and old building of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine   ©BNITM


The institute combines modern laboratory research on the biology of pathogens, their reservoirs and vectors with clinical research on the pathophysiology, epidemiology and disease control of tropical diseases in endemic areas. Current foci are malaria, worm infections and other parasitoses as well as diseases caused by arboviruses and haemorrhagic fever viruses, and the development of new diagnostics. For the handling of highly pathogenic pathogens and infected insects, the Institute has laboratories of the highest biological safety (BSL-3, BSL-4) as well as a safety insectarium (BSL-3).

A person in a high security suit carries out research work in the high-biosafety laboratory BSL-4
Research work in the high-biosafety laboratory BSL-4   ©BNITM | Klaus Jürries

The Institute's services include special laboratory diagnostics for tropical and other rare infections as well as advice for physicians, science, industry, politics and the public, which contribute significantly to the Institute's national importance. The Institute houses the National Reference Centre for Tropical Infectious Agents and the Consultative Laboratory for Bornaviruses. The Department of Virology at the BNITM is a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Arboviruses and Haemorrhagic Fever Viruses, and the Health Communication Working Group has been designated a WHO Collaborating Centre for Behavioural Research in Global Health (BRIGHT).

The BNITM coordinates a number of mobile laboratories that strengthen local laboratory capacity in requesting countries to respond rapidly to outbreaks of serious infectious diseases.

Teaching activities include a three-month, full-day course on all aspects of tropical medicine for medical doctors, as well as an advanced training programme for doctoral students at the Institute and a range of continuing education courses on topics related to travel medicine and international health. Numerous scientists from the Institute are involved in student teaching as appointed professors of the University and the University Hospital Hamburg.

In cooperation with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health and the University of Kumasi, the Institute has been operating a modern research and training centre in West Africa for 25 years, which is also available to external working groups. In addition, there are numerous research cooperations with scientists and scientific institutions in various African countries. In addition to Ghana, institutions in Gabon and Nigeria are also key cooperation partners.

As a member of the Leibniz Association, the Institute is jointly financed by the Federal Government, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the other federal states as a research institute of supraregional importance. On the part of Hamburg, the BNITM is assigned to the Ministry for Science, Research, Equalities and Districts (BWFGB), on the part of the federal government to the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).



  • Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • phone: +49 40 285380-0
  • fax: +49 40 285380-252
  • email: bni@bnitm.de