Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers

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Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers V.
Logo of the Helmholtz Association
purpose Major research
Chair: Otmar Wiestler (President)
Executive Director: Franziska Broer
Establishment date: 1995
Number of members: 19 research centers
Number of employees: 40,404
Seat : Bonn
Website: www.helmholtz.de
alternative logo

The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers e. V. (also Hermann von Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers) is a German organization for the promotion and financing of research.


Namesake Hermann von Helmholtz (1894)
Conversation about the history of the Helmholtz Association by Holger Klein with Angela Bittner and Dieter Hoffmann on the occasion of the 20th anniversary in 2015.

The Helmholtz Association is a member association of 19 independent scientific - technical and biological - medical research centers with a total of more than 40,000 employees. Around 40 percent of these are scientists, around 3,500 doctoral students and around 1,400 trainees (as of 2018). The budget is currently 4.8 billion euros (as of 2019). The Helmholtz Association is therefore the largest scientific organization in Germany in terms of staff and budget. The declared aim is to "answer big and pressing questions from science , society and business ".

A good two thirds of the budget is financed by the public sector as part of the basic funding, while the rest (over 30%) is raised by the members as third-party funding. The basic funding is provided 90% by the federal government and 10% by the federal states . Planning security through continuous budget increases is given with the Pact for Research and Innovation .

In 2018, 16,731 publications appeared in ISI or SCOPUS -cited specialist journals with the participation of Helmholtz scientists. In the publication ranking of the Nature publishing house (“Nature Index”), the Helmholtz Association took second place in the category “Earth and Environment” on a global level for 2018, ahead of institutions such as the CNRS (third place), the ETH Zurich (4th place), NASA (5th place), Caltech (7th place) and the University of California, Berkeley (8th place). The Helmholtz Association ranks 7th in the Nature Index on a global level across all scientific areas. In the field of physics, the global 8th place is achieved in the ranking.

The Helmholtz Association makes its research infrastructures and large-scale equipment available to Helmholtz internal and external scientists . In 2018 they were used by around 4,300 visiting researchers from all over the world. Examples of this are the EMIL laboratory of the Helmholtz Center Berlin (HZB), the Energy Lab 2.0. of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the earth observation satellites of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ), the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) and the ultra-modern research aircraft DLR's HALO and numerous research vessels such as the Polarstern .

Germany's largest cohort study , the NAKO health study , is a joint interdisciplinary project by scientists from the Helmholtz Association, the universities and the Leibniz Association in Germany.

Otmar Wiestler has been President of the Helmholtz Association since September 1, 2015 . He succeeded Jürgen Mlynek , who was Helmholtz President from 2005 to 2015. Franziska Broer is the managing director of the Helmholtz Association .

Foundation and history of the Helmholtz Association

The cornerstone of the scientific community was in 1958 the "Working Committee for Administrative and Operational Issues of German Reactor Stations", founded by the Karlsruhe Research Centers (since October 2009 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ) and Jülich , the former "Society for Nuclear Energy Utilization in Shipbuilding and Shipping" (today Helmholtz Geesthacht Center - Center for Materials and Coastal Research , HZG for short) and by the nuclear research institutes of some universities. In the following years, further research centers were added to the loose network. In 1970 the Working Group of Large Research Institutions (AGF) emerged from this . In 1995 this working group got its current name: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, after the German physiologist and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz . In 2001 it was finally converted into a registered association of legally independent members.


Location of the Helmholtz centers in Germany

Members of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers are (in order of the acronyms):

Helmholtz institutes together with universities

Helmholtz institutes describe a partnership between a Helmholtz center and a university. The Helmholtz Center is establishing a branch office on the university campus. The Helmholtz Association funds Helmholtz institutes with three to five million euros per year, the leading scientists are appointed together with the partner university. The following Helmholtz institutes currently exist:

  • Helmholtz Institute Jena : Joint institute of the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and the German Electron Synchrotron as well as the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, founded in June 2009. The institute brings the competencies of the University of Jena in the field of high-power laser physics with the Expertise in accelerator, laser and X-ray technology at DESY and GSI together.
  • Helmholtz Institute Ulm : Cooperation between the University of Ulm and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, founded in January 2011. The institute is engaged in the research and development of electrochemical battery concepts.
  • Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology : Joint establishment of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg and the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf, founded in summer 2011. The institute's aim is to develop innovative technologies for the economy in order to provide and supply mineral and metal-containing raw materials more efficiently use as well as environmentally friendly recycling.
  • In October 2016 the Senate of the Helmholtz Association decided to found two further Helmholtz institutes:
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) : Founded in Mainz in February 2019, the German Cancer Research Center and the Research Institute for Translational Oncology (Tron) at Mainz University Medical Center work together.

Program structure

The work of the centers is categorized into programs divided into six research areas. For each research area it is indicated which member centers of the Helmholtz Association are involved:

The cooperation between the Helmholtz centers in these six research areas is structured by program-oriented funding (POF), which is based on research policy guidelines from the federal and state governments. An expert opinion by the Science Council (WR) comes to the conclusion that program-oriented funding should be geared more towards strategic issues. By systematically opening up the dialogue with social actors, the HGF could even better meet the requirement of making contributions to solving social problems.

Awarding of science awards

Since 1999, the Helmholtz Association, together with the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, has awarded the Erwin Schrödinger Prize for outstanding interdisciplinary research.

The Helmholtz Association has been awarding the Helmholtz Doctoral Prize in all six research areas since 2013. This is endowed with 5,000 euros each. In addition, each award winner will be given 12,000 euros for a stay abroad of up to six months at an international research institution of their choice.

Nobel Prizes in the Helmholtz Association

Nobel Prize in Medicine 2008

Harald zur Hausen

Harald zur Hausen was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 . Zur Hausen studied at the German Cancer Research Center in the Helmholtz Association how cervical cancer is triggered by viral infections. His research made it possible to develop a vaccine against the third most common cancer in women. Zur Hausen received half of the Nobel Prize, the other half went to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS .

Nobel Prize in Physics 2007

Peter Grünberg

The 2007 Nobel Prize for Physics went to solid-state physicist Peter Grünberg from the Helmholtz Research Center in Jülich . Grünberg received the award together with his French colleague Albert Fert (University of Paris-South) for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance . Both scientists discovered this effect independently in 1988.

2007 Nobel Peace Prize

In 2007 the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert A. Gore the Nobel Peace Prize. The researchers received the award for their efforts to educate the public about the causes of global climate change . Among the more than 2000 scientists who worked on the IPCC report are numerous scientists from the Helmholtz Association. As coordinating lead author, Peter Lemke from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven was responsible for the chapter Observed Changes in Snow, Ice and Permafrost .

Refugee initiative of the Helmholtz Association

In December 2015, the Helmholtz Association started a new initiative together with the Federal Employment Agency : It offers people who had to flee their homeland an entry into scientific or scientific employment. These can be internships, internships, jobs or training and study positions. In the meantime, the initiative has opened up a new perspective for around 750 refugees in one of the Helmholtz centers, as students, interns, trainees, doctoral students or employees (as of February 2019).

Other German non-university research organizations

See also


Web links

Commons : Helmholtz Association  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Helmholtz Association: [1]
  2. Resonator podcast of the Helmholtz Association : 20 Years of the Helmholtz Association (episode 62, July 19, 2015)
  3. a b c Helmholtz: Pact Monitoring Report 2019. In: helmholtz.de. Retrieved October 11, 2019 .
  4. 19_Helmholtz_Geschaeftsbericht. Retrieved October 11, 2019 .
  5. Helmholtz Association: [2]
  6. Numbers and facts - Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. In: www.helmholtz.de. Retrieved May 27, 2016 .
  7. 19_Helmholtz_Geschaeftsbericht. Retrieved October 11, 2019 .
  8. Nature Index: Top 10 institutions for Earth and environmental sciences in 2018. Accessed July 23, 2019 .
  9. Nature Index: The top 10 global institutions for 2018. Accessed July 23, 2019 .
  10. Nature Index: Top 10 institutions for physics in 2018. Accessed July 23, 2019 .
  11. ^ Helmholtz Association: From a loose association to a community in four decades
  12. Helmholtz Institute. Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, accessed on February 7, 2017 .
  13. ^ New Helmholtz institutes in Würzburg and Oldenburg. Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, October 13, 2016, accessed on February 7, 2017 .
  14. New Helmholtz Institute in Mainz. On: pharmaceutical-zeitung.de from February 14, 2019
  15. Earth System Knowledge Platform (ESKP) - platform of the research area Earth and Environment, Helmholtz Association
  16. Wissenschaftsrat: Recommendations for the further development of the program-oriented funding of the Helmholtz Association. Bielefeld 2015 (Drs. 4900-15). Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  17. ^ Erwin Schrödinger Prize , Helmholtz Association
  18. ^ Helmholtz Doctoral Prize , Helmholtz Association