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The Max von Pettenkofer-Institute of Hygiene and Medical Microbiology belongs to the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich, and has its roots in the Institute of Hygiene of which Max von Pettenkofer was the first director (1897). Max von Pettenkofer (1818 – 1901) is known as the pioneer of hygiene and public health in the former kingdom of Bavaria. From epidemiological analysis of the cholera epidemics in Munich (1836/37 and 1853/54) he concluded that spatial (quality of soil) and temporal (climate, human constitution) components are responsible for enteric diseases. The government was prompted to improve soil quality by centralizing waste-water disposal and drinking water supply. The benefit of this measure became evident at the end of the 19th century when cholera struck the city of Hamburg but spared the city of Munich. This success may be one reason that Max von Pettenkofer did not agree with Robert Koch that cholera is caused by the "Kommabazillus" Vibrio cholerae (soil theory versus germ theory).

In 1996 the Max von Pettenkofer-Institute (MvPI) was provided with a chair for Virology and a chair for Bacteriology for the first time, to emphasize the high impact of infectious disease in general and in particular for the medical school and the university hospital at the LMU. The two departments are involved in (1) laboratory diagnostics of infectious disease of patients of the university hospital, (2) teaching students of medicine, dental medicine, pharmacy and biology and (3), research. Moreover, members of the MvPI take over numerous duties as consultants in public health and research. In May 2010 Prof. Dr.  Hubert Hilbi moved with his research group from the University of Zurich to Munich following the appointment as Professor of Cellular Microbiology. His focus of research is the molecular analysis of pathogenesis of Legionella pneumophila.

The research program of the Department of Bacteriology is focussed on (1) bacteria causing gastro-intestinal infections (Helicobacter pylori, Yersinia species, Salmonella enterica), (2) Borrelia burgdorferi / B. afzeli /B. garinii,
(3) Legionella pneumophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and infection of the respiratory tract of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, (4) pathogenicity of Streptococcus pneumoniae, (5) facultative-pathogenic members of the family of Enterobacteriacea and (6) Aspergillus fumigatus.

The following topics are covered:
- Molecular Genetics of Bacterial Pathogenesis
- Evolution of Bacterial Pathogenicity
- Pathogen-Host Cell Interaction (cellular microbiology)
- Immune Response Elicited by Bacterial Components
- Development of Oral Live Vaccines
- Pathotyping and Clonal Analysis of Microbes Involved in Epidemics and Nosocomial Infections
- Germination process of Aspergillus fumigatus

The research projects are funded by
- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
- Bundesministerium für Bildung, Forschung und Technologie
- European Commission
- Bayerische Forschungsstiftung
- various foundations