Department of… Research

Prof. Dr. Claudia Denkinger's research focuses on the topic of "Diagnostics for Global Health". Further information here.

Other key areas are clinical research in the field of infectiology (Kathamzas, Beisel), echinococcosis and Buruli ulcer (Stojković) as well as research into new therapeutic approaches (Khatamzas). Another focus is on translational research projects in the field of infection immunology as part of DZIF-funded projects (Beisel).

A list of current research projects can be found here:


Funding:  HORIZON ERC Grant,  Laufzeit:  01/2024 - 12/2028

Funding:  Bill and Melinda Gats Foundation,  Laufzeit:  06/2023 - 05/2024

This highly pragmatic cross-sectional study evaluates diagnostic yield of tongue-swab based vs. sputum based molecular TB testing. Tongue-swab based TB testing is anticipated to enable penetration of molecular testing for TB to lower-level health facilities in high burden countries where affected patients most often first seek care. While preliminary results currently suggest a sensitivity deficit of swab-based testing vs. sputum-based testing, a potential increased diagnostic yield, would favour swab-based testing. By reflecting outcomes that can be expected in routine care this study can provide important evidence to potentially support WHO policy and country-level uptake of swab-based molecular tests.

Funding:  USAID, Laufzeit:  08/2022 - 09/2027

Supporting, Mobilizing, and Accelerating Research for Tuberculosis Elimination is a five-year initiative made possible by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with the assistance of the American people, that aims to transform TB prevention and care. In 2021, an estimated 10.6 million people fell sick with TB worldwide, and 1.6 million died, making it second only to COVID-19 as leading infectious disease killer. SMART4TB will design and implement research studies with local partners to identify effective person-centered methods for finding, treating, and preventing TB; strengthen local capacity to conduct high-quality research; and engage communities to build demand for new interventions, drive policy change, and improve implementation of new and existing interventions to reach the End TB targets. 

Funding:  Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst (MWK), Laufzeit:  1.07.2023 - 31.12.2024

Funding:  National Institute of Health (NIH)
Laufzeit:  08/2020 - 05/2025
The Rapid Research in Diagnostics Development for TB Network (R2D2 TB Network) has been funded by the NIH to support diagnostic developers in evaluating innovative solutions for TB screening and diagnostic testing. This is intended to advance the diagnostics pipeline for TB, the single leading infectious cause of death in the world.

Funding:  Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (DZIF)

Duration:  01/2021 - 12/2025

The title of the joint project "Pathogen based diagnostics & epidemiology" described here reflects the main content of the translational research to be carried out over the next few years: (1) Implementation of resistance predictions based on the genome of the TB pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a diagnostic workflow and (2) implementation of molecular epidemiological studies including transmission analyses and development of models for the implementation of molecular epidemiological data in integrated tuberculosis surveillance.

Funding:  Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (DZIF)

Laufzeit:  07/2021 - 06/2024

This is a prospective, multicentre cohort study in which the accuracy and the diagnostic yield of TB focused POC US and AI interpretation of US will be assessed using a microbiological reference standard, an extended microbiological reference standard and a composite reference standard among inpatients and outpatients with presumed TB disease.

There is a need to better characterize sensitivity and specificity of sonographic findings for diagnosis and monitoring against a comprehensive reference standard. This will guide implementation in various clinical settings, potentially increase case finding and avoid over-diagnosis. We will conduct a prospective, cross-sectional study to inform the possible applications for TB-focused ultrasound in HIV-positive and HIV-negative adult patients with presumed TB in a high-incidence country of middle-income (India) and a low incidence country of high income (Germany).

The study aims to assess the accuracy of abdominal and thoracic ultrasound for the diagnosis of both pulmonary TB (PTB) and EPTB. In addition, we plan to follow-up patients with confirmed TB under anti-mycobacterial therapy to document the natural evolution of TB-associated sonographic findings and assess their value for monitoring of therapy success.

Funding:  European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)

Laufzeit in HD:  10/2020 - 2/2023

To facilitate implementation of TB testing, TB-CAPT provides evidence for impactful implementation for TB and TB/HIV co-infection diagnostic strategies in multiple clinical trials in South Africa, Mozambique, and Tanzania. These trials aim to evaluate the most promising new technologies, inform policy change and implementation strategies on a regional, national, and global level as well as to consolidate and strengthen human capacity and in-country infrastructure for conducting clinical trials, implementation research and plans for new diagnostic methods. Three trials from part of TB-CAPT: the CORE trial on decentralized molecular diagnosis, the XDR trial on extended resistance testing and the HIV trial, on rapid, comprehensive diagnostics testing for most vulnerable and hospitalized people living with HIV. The project was initiated by Claudia while at FIND and is coordinated by FIND. The Heidelberg team contributes primarily on an economic and benefit incidence analysis in partnership with David Dowdy at John Hopkins University.

Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Laufzeit:  06/2022 - 05/2024

Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide with delayed and missed diagnoses contributing to ongoing community transmission and mortality. Currently, none of the symptom screen and triage strategies meet the minimum recommended diagnostic accuracy targets recommended by the WHO. We will use machine learning methods to develop a novel individualized predictive model for active TB disease combining information from multiple sources, such as individual patient data and knowledge on local TB epidemiology. The resulting algorithm will be incorporated into a simple digital tool (mobile app) for the usage in limited-resource settings to rapidly and accurately stratify individuals by TB risk and recommend appropriate next steps (e.g., further diagnostic evaluations or TB preventative therapy).

Pandemie / Covid

Funding:  Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Laufzeit:  06/2022 - 05/2025

Mid- and longterm effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) used during the COVID-19 pandemic on respiratory infections like respiratory syncitial virus, influenza and pneumococcal disease remain poorly understood but are crucial in the assessment of overall disease burden after NPIs. We aim to develop an integrated model for simulation of transmission of several respiratory infections and collateral effects of NPIs on their disease burden in the mid- and long term. In a systematic review we will gather and synthesize available data on immunity markers, infection prevalence and disease burden of respiratory infections during and after NPIs and then analyze and evaluate the findings in a meta-analysis by means of generalized linear mixed models.

Funding: Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg (MWK)

Duration: 04/2021 -

In this cooperation with other universities in Baden-Württemberg, the Department of Virology and the Heidelberg Institute for Global Health, we are working on various topics relevant to infection medicine.

1) This pilot study is about new methods for self-testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

We want to find out whether we can detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 via a drop of blood from the fingertip and/or in a person's saliva compared to blood taken from a vein (venous blood sample). We also want to know if study participants can collect these samples (saliva and fingertip blood) themselves by following a predetermined set of instructions. This will help us to find out whether saliva and fingertip blood are good alternatives to venous blood for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Self-testing for antibodies and virus would allow us to quickly and easily get a picture of the incidence of infection in the population.

2) The aim of this online survey is to understand the views of healthcare professionals in Germany regarding the introduction of COVID-19 point-of-care (POC) PCR diagnostics into everyday clinical practice. This primarily concerns the care of patients with an increased risk of infection and severe disease progression. The target group of this survey is therefore healthcare professionals who work with a vulnerable patient population. The results of this qualitative online survey will provide valuable information on the barriers and facilitating factors related to the implementation of new PCR-based testing strategies close to the patient to enable a more effective and successful implementation strategy.

3) In this mixed-methods study, we want to investigate the test quality, acceptance and feasibility of PCR tests at the point of patient care for the diagnosis of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza.

For this purpose, point-of-care PCR diagnostics will be introduced at various outpatient care locations for high-risk patients (e.g. in oncology) and compared with rt-PCR diagnostics in the laboratory.In addition, individual interviews will be conducted with stakeholders such as patients, healthcare professionals and decision makers to capture their views, acceptance and perceived feasibility of the new diagnostic strategy as well as prerequisites for an expansion of POC diagnostics.This will enable us and others to protect vulnerable patients from infection in the future through early and reliable testing and to design a diagnostic strategy that takes real clinical factors into account.

Funding:  Netzwerk Universitätsmedizin (NUM)

Duration: 09/2022 - 08/2023

The overall objective of PREPARED is to develop a concept for a fully feasible, collaborative, adaptable and sustainable infrastructure for pandemic management and preparedness within the NUM.This will enable a coordinated, rapid, targeted and evidence-based action and response to threats to patient care and public health due to a pandemic situation.The establishment, harmonization and optimization of necessary infrastructure components and the creation of a detailed concept for pandemic preparedness and response by the NUM and its partners will ensure the basis for high-quality patient care and targeted research in the current and future pandemic.
The central unique selling point of the project is the synthesis and integration of the entire cycle from the identification and prioritization of urgent research and care needs, through systematic modeling, evidence synthesis, the consecutive transparent and multi-perspective derivation of recommendations for clinical care and public health, to the systematic implementation of these recommendations in national clinical networks and cross-sectoral, multi-professional settings.

WP2: Surveillance, infection prevention and control
Previous epidemics, including the recent COVID-19 pandemic, have demonstrated the importance of a rapid and versatile epidemic response that can be adapted to a range of pathogen threats.
As part of the NUM project PREPARED, work package 2 (WP2), we are addressing this need through a proposal to establish a permanent, nationally representative cohort focused on rapid epidemiologic assessment of infectious diseases through adaptive population sampling.

WP3: Test solutionsThis addresses the topic of diagnostics as a cornerstone of pandemic control. In particular, the establishment of qualitative, safe and user-friendly diagnostic tests as well as the introduction of a targeted and sustainable testing strategy are crucial. Through qualitative interviews with experts and decision-makers from the stakeholders involved during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will evaluate the German national testing strategy and develop a catalog of measures for pandemic preparedness in the area of diagnostics and testing strategy.

Funding: World Health Organization (WHO)

Laufzeit: 05/2022 – 09/2022

We conduct work to support the health operations pillar of the Incident Management Structure for the COVID-19 response within the World Health Emergencies Programme of the World Health Organization. The objective is for the service provider to conduct two systematic literature reviews on the accuracy and impact/utility of COVID-19 Ag-RDTs for self-testing to support the development of evidence-based WHO guidance. Having clear policy on the optimal uses of self-testing as part of overall COVID-19 testing strategies is aimed to enhance global preparedness, and support timely detection of COVID-19 cases, both of which are critical to the success of the overall COVID-19 response.


Global Health Diagnostic Evaluation

Other Research Projects

weitere Infos finden Sie hier

Roll-out of penicillinallergy delabeling within the hospital inpatients and identification of barriers to delabeling in collaboration with hospital pharmacy. Launch of national penicillinallergy delabeling network (PANDA) and national survey on penicillinallergy with other university hospitals (UK Köln, UK Düsseldorf, UK Eppendorf, UK Schleswig Holstein, LMU).

Participation in the national K-APAT registry in collaboration with other university hospitals. Monitoring of outcomes on patients treated with OPAT

Participation in the global registry for invasive fungal infections (Fungiscope). Development of novel methods for treatment of invasive fungal infections in collaboration with the department for Haematology.

Interdisciplinary project in collaboration with the departments of Cardiac surgery, Cardiology and Microbiology as well as Hospital Pharmacy to monitor infections and associated outcomes in VAD patients.

Development of novel teaching tools for medical students in collaboration with department of internal and psychosocial medicine.

Completed research projects

Further information on the completed research projects can be found here.