The Leibniz Research Alliance INFECTIONS’21 will combine the expertise of 14 institutions from 3 sections of the Leibniz Association and selected external partners, spanning biomedical, ecological, socio-economic and political sciences to address overarching issues in infection control. INFECTIONS’21 will develop a culture of interdisciplinary communication across scientific fields and a tool-box of approaches and methods that allow a holistic view of the transmission of infectious agents to which all disciplines equally contribute. The Alliance's distinctive disciplines will generate optimal synergy to study the various facets of transmission as an essential step in the infectious process and important point of intervention for infection control. For this purpose, INFECTIONS'21 identified 4 prototypical cooperative research projects, which will be performed by Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) exploring
- incentives to reduce ongoing transmission of HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis in marginalized populations,
- environmental conditions limiting or promoting infectious aerosol distribution,
- open waters as hubs for inter-species infection spread, and
- climate change and the appearance of novel infections in Germany.
All IRGs are truly cross-sectional combining a distinct variety of methods and scientific approaches including the involvement of the general public by a Citizen Science module and regular public lectures by INFECTIONS'21 scientists. Important tools to close the gap of communication between the different research fields include regular meetings, capacity building events between the disciplines and joint supervised PhD students. The IRGs are starting points for a global approach to answer pressing questions concerning how infection spreading is linked to climate change, economical transformation and societal transition. Tangible outcomes will be early warning systems for emerging pathogens, better-guided management of infection outbreaks, improved transmission control with enhanced compliance and innovative political strategies to strengthen the overall capacity to respond to infectious disease challenges. Most importantly, once established, a functioning “Leibniz” way of cross-disciplinary problem-solving will greatly facilitate partnering for multiple third-party-funded projects that have a measurable impact on human health and society.