Light-based technologies offer the potential to fight infectious diseases more effectively and to better cope with future pandemics. To accelerate the development of medical products, diagnostic procedures and experimental therapies in this field, the Leibniz Center for Photonics in Infection Research (LPI) is being established in Jena, Germany – a globally unique infrastructure for translating research results into medical applications. After a successful start-up phase, the four LPI consortium partners have now laid the foundation for the long-term future of the center. The establishment of the LPI is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and in the subsequent operating phase it will be financially self-sufficient. The LPI gGmbH was founded to create and test the necessary strategic and logistical structures and processes for the development of medical solutions.

 With the foundation of LPI gGmbH, the Leibniz Center for Photonics in Infection Research is entering a new era. The four consortium partners of the new center – the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz-IPHT), the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute (Leibniz-HKI), the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU) and the University Hospital Jena (UKJ) – have thus taken the decisive step to consolidate the LPI as a globally unique translational infrastructure – as a bridge from research to application. The LPI gGmbH will be established as a one-stop agency for open users. It combines under one roof all services, technologies and competencies required to significantly accelerate the development and transfer of market-ready light-based diagnostics and novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of infectious diseases.

 Dr. Jens Hellwage, Managing Director of the InfectoGnostics Research Campus, and Dr. Brunhilde Seidel-Kwem will take over the management of LPI gGmbH. “We are delighted to have won this management duo for the LPI. As an experienced bridge builder between science, medicine and business, Dr. Hellwage will take over the scientific management, while Dr. Seidel-Kwem, as former commercial director of the University Hospital Jena, will drive forward the administrative and infrastructural development and ensure a close connection to the hospital,” says Prof. Dr. Jürgen Popp, LPI spokesman and co-initiator of the Leibniz IPHT.

“I am looking forward to bringing the unique concept of the LPI to life, so that the photonic innovations for diagnosis, monitoring and therapy developed here can be brought more quickly to where they are needed,” said Dr. Jens Hellwage. “In close cooperation with regional and international partners, we want to support all development steps from the concept to the certified medical product in an integrated process.

Dr. Brunhilde Seidel-Kwem will be the commercial director of LPI-gGmbH. In addition to setting up the governance and administration necessary for LPI gGmbH to become fully operational, she is also driving forward plans to build the LPI research infrastructure on the University Hospital campus. “We take infrastructure literally,” explains Dr. Brunhilde Seidel-Kwem. “Because a close physical connection to the University Hospital Jena is crucial for the success of the holistic LPI concept. This is what I want to work towards. As Administrative Director of the UKJ until March 2024, she successfully contributed to the realization of the new university hospital in the Lobeda district with numerous clinical, research and infrastructure buildings.

The central LPI building on the UKJ campus will provide access to the latest developments in photonics as well as the latest commercial optical and molecular technologies. A first-in-patient unit (FiPU), which will be created as a fundamentally new infrastructure in the intensive care unit of the university hospital, will be used to research and test life-saving solutions for life-threatening patients in a clinical environment using methods developed at the LPI.

“At the LPI, the path from the research laboratory to the hospital bed is considered from the outset and advanced in a standardized process chain,” emphasizes Jürgen Popp. “As an internationally networked center for photonics in infection research, the LPI can play a pioneering role. The combination of excellent research and rapid application development will make the LPI a global model that can fundamentally change the transfer of knowledge from research to society and show how interdisciplinary and international cooperation can lead to real medical progress.”

In the photo: The foundation of the LPI gGmbH on 25.04.24 with the founding members from the companies of the consortium partners. In the picture (from left): Dr. Thoralf Held, Chancellor of Friedrich Schiller University Jena (representing the President); Dr. Brunhilde Seidel-Kwem, Managing Director of LPI gGmbH; Prof. Dr. Jürgen Popp, Scientific Director of Leibniz-IPHT; Notary Dr. Thomas Weikart; Dr. Karina Weber, Administrative Director of Leibniz-IPHT; Dr. Jens Hellwage, Scientific Director of LPI gGmbH. Jens Hellwage, Scientific and Operational Director of LPI gGmbH and Managing Director of InfectoGnostics e.V.; Prof. Dr. Thomas Kamradt, Scientific Director and Dean of the Medical Faculty of the University Hospital Jena (representing the UKJ Executive Board); Prof. Dr. Axel Brakhage, Director of Leibniz-HKI.