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Robert Koch Institute: Mission Statement

Our mission

The Robert Koch Institute is Germany’s public health institute. Our mission is to protect and improve the health of the population. To this end, 1,100 individuals from 90 different occupational fields work and conduct research together at RKI every day.

Our portfolio

We investigate disease and health on all levels: from viruses in human cells to obesity in the population. RKI’s scientists collect data on non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cancer, on infectious diseases and (new) biological dangers. On this basis, we develop policy recommendations and preventive strategies. Our work rests on two pillars: research that generates data for decision-making, and independent advice for specialists, particularly Germany’s public health service and policy-makers. In addition, we help partner countries to better prepare themselves for disease outbreaks and health crises. The Robert Koch Institute therefore contributes to health protection not just in Germany, but across the world.

Our success is due to our highly-motivated and qualified staff, a modern research infrastructure, flexible organisational structures and an efficient administration.

Our values

We produce evidence. Scientific questions change – and as they do, the methods with which data on health and disease can be collected and interpreted change, too. As well as state-of-the-art approaches, we therefore continually develop new ways of tackling issues in fields like digital epidemiology, artificial intelligence and targeted, group-specific communication. Because sound results and recommendations are dependent on high-quality data, our scientific activities and infrastructure are regularly evaluated both internally and externally.

We are connected. Complex health issues, such as the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, healthy ageing, novel pathogens that can be transmitted from animals to humans, or severe disease outbreaks can only be addressed jointly – across disciplinary, institutional and national boundaries. This starts at our institute itself where different specialist areas and the administration support and complement each other and pool their resources to develop solutions. RKI also actively collaborates in a broader context with the public health service, various public health stakeholders, veterinary, human and environmental physicians, and international institutions.

We share our knowledge. RKI staff publish their research findings in recognised journals, present them at conferences and use them for health reporting to the federal states. The recommendations issued by RKI and the commissions located at the institute are made freely available online. The general public is also regularly informed about RKI’s activities. We are committed to promoting global access to knowledge and we share our methods and data with international partners. In every sector of the institute, RKI trains junior researchers: our scientists mentor bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral dissertations. A number of our staff are themselves actively involved in academic teaching or contribute their knowledge and experience to commissions, learned societies and committees.

We assume responsibility on a global scale. Health crises like the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa can only be tackled in cooperation with the countries affected. We provide expertise and resources to assist and support partner countries and help them to better prepare for crises. In addition, the Robert Koch Institute works closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) as well as coordinating a raft of international research projects. Our institute is open to all people, irrespective of their origin, religious belief and gender identity.

We work autonomously, independently and transparently. We implement legal provisions on issues like data protection, biosafety, the safety of genetic engineering and animal protection. We place great emphasis on observing the rules of good scientific practice and dealing responsibly with research risks. As a higher federal authority within the remit of the Federal Ministry of Health, RKI is not dependent on funding from industry. Conflicts of interest and research projects that are not publicly funded are appropriately declared as such.

The world is changing – we are changing, too. Founded in 1891, the Robert Koch Institute is one of the oldest biomedical research institutes in the world. It is part of the institute’s ethos to recognise and embrace new challenges, constantly scrutinise its own approaches and break new ground. Over the decades, it is this openness that has enabled us to become what we are today: the institute for the health of the public.

Date: 17.10.2017