Helmholtz Zentrum München is the German Research Center for Environmental Health. It investigates important common diseases which develop from the interaction of lifestyle, environmental factors and personal genetic background, focusing particularly on diabetes mellitus and chronic lung diseases.

Helmholtz Zentrum München is a research institution of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Free State of Bavaria. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


History of Helmholtz Zentrum München

1960The experimental and training facility for radiation protection is established in Neuherberg near Munich. In 1964 it becomes an autonomous limited company (GSF) engaged in radiation research. The main research interests of the company are hematological research, studies on final storage safety and groundwater protection, and radiation and nuclear biology.
1966Research begins at the Center on the final storage of nuclear waste.
1968/1969Two departments are founded: the Department of Biophysical Radiation Research, which became the germ cell of today’s aerosol research at the center, and the Institute of Ecological Chemistry, which carries out groundbreaking work in the risk assessment of chemicals in the environment.
1971The center begins building up a research focus on chemicals in the environment and includes Umwelt (English: environment) in its name Gesellschaft für Strahlen- und Umweltforschung.
1975GSF scientists working together with physicians in Munich hospitals succeed in transplanting bone marrow to treat leukemia patients.
1977 The center begins a concentration process on radiation and environmental
1978Models are developed to assess the genetic risk of radiation.
1984The exposition chambers begin operation as the first large-scale facility for simulating environmental conditions.
The health research platform is launched in Augsburg within the scope of a World Health Organization project.
Research on forest damage commences in cooperation with the Munich universities.
1986Lung research is established at the GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health.
1990 The institution changes its name to GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health to signify its development as the largest German center for environmental sciences.
1993 The GSF National Research Center begins first projects in clinical-translational research.
1995The founding of the clinical cooperation group “Aerosol Medicine” marks new avenues of cooperation between basic research and clinical application.
Research on the final storage of nuclear waste is ended.
1996Cardiovascular risk research is expanded to become the research platform Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (Kooperative Gesundheitsforschung in der Region Augsburg, KORA).
1997Within the scope of the German Human Genome Project, the GSF begins building up the world’s largest mouse mutant archive.
1999/2000The center intensifies its efforts in the field of genome and proteome research with the founding of the Genome Analysis Center and the Institutes of Experimental Genetics, Human Genetics, Bioinformatics and Molecular Radiation Biology.
2001The founding of four new clinical cooperation groups reflects the increasing interconnectedness of research.
2004The center heads the list of the most frequently cited German research institutes in the field of lung and respiratory tract diseases.
The first institute for stem cell research in Germany is founded at the GSF.
Research on neurodegenerative diseases is expanded.
2006 The center consolidates its activities and begins its strategic new orientation on environmental health. It places a new focus on translational research in order to transfer the insights gained in basic research into clinical applications as fast as possible.
2007The center strengthens its competence in the field of health care and the development of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic methods with the founding of the Institute of Structural Biology and the reorganization of the Institute of Radiation Biology and the Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging.
2008 The strategic new orientation is also reflected in the name change to Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health.
2009 Helmholtz Zentrum München becomes a partner institute of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (Deutsches Zentrum für neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, DZNE).
The German Center for Diabetes Research (Deutsches Zentrum für Diabetesforschung e.V.) is founded with four strategic partners.
More than 800 publications underpin the international claim to leadership of Helmholtz Zentrum München in the field of Environmental Health.
Removab, the first therapeutic antibody from Germany, is approved. It was developed by Trion, a spin-off of Helmholtz Zentrum München.
2010Helmholtz Zentrum München becomes a partner in the excellence cluster “m4 - Personalized Medicine and Targeted Therapies”. Furthermore, the Helmholtz Graduate School of Environmental Health (HELENA) is founded.
2011Helmholtz Zentrum München is involved in all six German Health Research Centers. The Diabetes Research Department (DRD) is launched as a visible sign of a successfully established research focus.
2012After the Lung Information Service was launched in 2011, the Diabetes Information Service Munich follows. Helmholtz Zentrum München coordinates the Helmholtz Alliance ICEMED - Imaging and Curing Environmental Metabolic Diseases.
2013Helmholtz Zentrum München strengthens diabetes research. In January the Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research is established in Garching. In September the 1st Helmholtz-Nature Medicine Diabetes Conference takes place, a cooperation between Helmholtz Zentrum München and the journal Nature.