Press releases

European Commission awards internationally renowned epidemic early warning system

Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and international partners receive five million euros

Hamburg, 17 January 2022 - The Department of Arbovirology at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), headed by Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, as a partner in a European consortium, today received the European Commission's prize for its epidemic early warning system "EYWA". The prize is endowed with five million euros. The international research group will now use the prize money to expand its established early warning system in Europe and the countries of the Global South.

[Translate to English:] Prof. Dr. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit: ein Forscher mit Glatze, der ein hellblaues Hemd trägt.


Dr Charalampos Haris Kontoes, Scientific Director of the Greek institution‚ National Observatory of Athens ‘(NOA), Greece, will receive the EIC Horizon Prize for‚ Early Warning for Epidemics on behalf of the international consortium, which also includes the Arbovirology Department of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM). A total of 15 partner institutes from five European countries can be proud on their joint success. At the BNITM, Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, Head of Department of Arbovirology, and his colleague Dr Renke Lühken, established the mosquito early warning system in Germany.

In his congratulatory letter on the award, Philippe Tulkens of the European Commission, Head of Climate & Planetary boundaries, narrates that he was personally impressed by the development of the ‘EYWA’ early warning system. He was aware that this system could save many lives in Europe and beyond.

Science Senator Katharina Fegebank: "I am very pleased that Professor Schmidt-Chanasit and his team have succeeded in representing the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine - and thus also Hamburg - in this important field in an outstanding international way. The award for the consortium is also a great distinction for Hamburg as a science location in the context of global infection research. The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, rich in tradition, is being further developed here by the Federal Ministry of Health, Hamburg and the federal states as a modern research institution of the Leibniz Association in an international network of renowned scientists. The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine has great potential for future trend-setting findings in the service of global health, prevention and the fight against pandemics, precisely because of its excellent basic research, from molecules to pathogens to the epidemiology of infectious diseases".

Katharina Fegebank: a politician on a balcony. On the left are red flowers, on the right the bright walls of Hamburg City Hall. Katarina Fegebank wears shoulder-length brown hair and a blue dress. In front of the middle of her body, the fingertips of her two hands are touching.
The Science Senator Katharina Fegebank   ©Daniel Reinhardt | Senatskanzlei Hamburg

The Chairman of the BNITM Board of Directors, Prof. Jürgen May, is also delighted about the award: "This prize is a great success for the EYWA consortium and our Arbovirology Department. Our research groups at BNITM are excellently networked with internationally renowned scientists. Only in this way will global infection research be able to achieve milestones."

Risk map for the Chikungunya-Virus in Europe
Risk map for the Chikungunya-Virus in Europe   ©BNITM | Renke Lühken

At least since the coronavirus pandemic an early warning system has been indispensable

The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear how indispensable it is to detect pandemics and epidemics at an early stage and to prevent them if possible. ‘This Early Warning for Epidemics award from the European Commission for our EYWA consortium will help to detect and prevent future outbreaks caused by zoonotic, i.e. animal-borne, viruses at an early stage‘, explains Schmidt-Chanasit. To this end, data would be collected, evaluated, and action-oriented findings made available to decision-makers.

The head of arbovirology sums up: ‘This is an important step to better protect people worldwide and to be able to better counter the danger of pandemics and epidemics in the future. The European Commission's decision confirms the strategy of the Arbovirology Department at BNITM to contribute to global health security.‘

Financial support for an early warning system 2.0 at the Bernhard Nocht Institute

Dr. Renke Lühken is a junior research group leader in the Department of Arbovirology and has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2020. His research focus is on Arbovirus Ecology. As a modelling expert, he and his group have contributed significantly to the success of the BNITM early warning system for mosquito-borne pathogens, such as West Nile virus or Chikungunya virus.

“In cooperation with the European partners, the prize will now be used to further develop the current third-party funded projects of the Arbovirology Department for the development of early warning systems. A particular focus is on abiotic and biotic data collected in near-real time, which allows control measures to be implemented at short notice”, says Lühken, explaining his plans for the future.

Dr Renke Lühken: a researcher wearing a green and yellow checked shirt, short dark blond hair and a short beard.
Dr Renke Lühken, Head of BMBF Research Group Arbovirus Ecology   ©BNITM | Dino Schachten

Partners of the EYWA Consortium

National Observatory of Athens – BEYOND Centre of Earth Observation Research and Satellite Remote Sensing,

Ecodevelopment S.A., Greece

University of Patras – Physics Department – Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics (LapUP), Greece

Dmitiris Vallianatos (ID COM), Greece

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

University of Thessaly, Medical School, Laboratory of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Greece

Istituto Zoonofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe), Italy

Edmund Mach Foundation, Italy

University of Trento / Department of Mathematics, Italy

EID Méditerranée, France

Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Germany

KABS e. V., Germany

University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Agriculture, Laboratory for Medical and Veterinary Entomology, Serbia

Scientific Veterinary Institute “Novi Sad”, Serbia

University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Medicine, Serbia

Contact person

Prof. Dr Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit

Head of Arbovirology/ Entomology Department

Phone : +49 40 285380-546

Email :

Dr Renke Lühken

Group Leader Arbovirology Ecology

Phone : +49 40 285380-862

Email :

Dr Eleonora Schoenherr

Public Relations

Phone : +49 40 285380-269

Email :