Research at ZIEL

The research at the ZIEL - Institute for Food & Health covers the entire nutrition chain – from food processing and formulation to human physiology and nutritional medicine.

Our research areas

This research area incorporates the topics food – microbiome – health.
Global microbiome research focuses on the digestive system as the interface between the organism and a unique microbial ecosystem. It is assumed today that the microbiome plays a key role in human health. Food processing, food formulation and nutrition in general are important factors that have a significant impact on the composition and functionality of the microbiome. Quantitative and/or qualitative changes in the microbiome can affect the immune function and metabolism and are associated with many of today’s chronic diseases.

ZIEL focuses on the research of these complex links through the interdisciplinary exchange of expert knowledge and the use of cutting-edge research technology.

Diseases associated with the metabolism, for example obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD), are responsible for significant increases in mortality risk throughout the world. Lifestyle and nutritional behavior are key environmental factors that contribute to metabolism-associated diseases, particularly in highly developed industrialized countries. The pathogenesis of these diseases is multifactorial; however, strong interconnections have emerged between metabolism and the immune system and this substantiates the key role played by inflammatory processes in the etiology of these diseases. The detailed phenotyping of test subjects is a key prerequisite for the characterization of the influence of food on metabolic processes. ZIEL has invested considerable resources in the methodological development of this approach in the context of its human studies unit. Together with the immunological expertise available at ZIEL and the TUM, the conditions have been created here for the analysis of new research areas at the interface between food and immune metabolism, at both the system and cellular levels. Combined with new animal models and research on the microbiome in the digestive system, a clear focus area for research has emerged here.

Wrong nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle are part of an environment that promotes disease. Investigations using prospective cohorts allow epidemiologists to gain insight into population-related risk factors for diet- or lifestyle-dependent diseases, whereby the individual risk and targeted prevention are virtually not scientifically established.
Demographic change and urban lifestyles are global challenges that will affect food production. Targeted studies on the effects of new raw materials and production processes are the basis for an evidence-based assessment of food. The ZIEL has all the prerequisites for testing food with regard to health and prevention of diseases, from the basics to human intervention. This thematic area requires intensive cooperation with food science and is outlined in the future concept for urban food research "Food4Singapore". With the involvement of food research at the TUM and new expertise from the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology (Prof. Veronika Somoza), the focal points microbiome, metabolism and prevention are to be further developed in the 3rd funding phase of the Central Institute of Food & Health.

Current research projects

What interactions exist between the composition of the microbiome in the digestive tract and its diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer? The new Collaborative Research Center "Microbiome Signatures – Functional Relevance of the Microbiome in the Digestive Tract", which is funded by the German Research Foundation, deals with this question in both basic and clinical projects. As of Jan 2023 the CRC was renewed by the DFG for a second funding phase untill Dec 2026. For more information click here.


The TRR333 consortium is a network of 19 projects, each TRR333 project focuses on a certain aspect of metabolism in brown adipose tissue and beige adipose tissue. ZIEL members Prof. Martin Klingenspor and Prof. Henriette Uhlenhaut participate in TRR333.

Vice Speaker: Prof. Dr. Henriette Uhlenhaut

Further information is available on the TRR333 website.

Combining functionality-driven cultivation with innovative processing and extraction methods as well as novel reverse food engineering approaches will provide Singapure with alternative non-animal protein sources by 2030.

ZIEL members Prof. Haller, Prof. Brück and Prof. Dawid are part of the consortium. 

Further information is available here.

The Mi-EOCRC project´s goal is to elucidate the contribution of the microbiome during initiation and progression of colorectal cancer in young individuals and to develop theraputic microbiome based startegies for prevention and diagnosis of this cancer type.

Prof. Dr. Dirk Haller is part of the Mi-EOCRC consortium.

Further information can be found here.

The goal of the ABROGATE network is to find novel strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of people with allergic hypersensitivity to food.

ZIEL members Prof. Traidl Hoffmann and Prof. Haller are part of the ABROGATE consortium.

Further information os availabele here.

The 3rd Bavarian Food Consumption Survey is a scientific survey on the nutritional behaviour and health of the Bavarian population. It is carried out on behalf of the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry (StMELF) in close cooperation between the Chair of Epidemiology at UNIKA-T Augsburg (Prof. Jakob Linseisen), the AG Public Health Nutrition at ZIEL - Institute for Food & Health (Prof. Kurt Gedrich) and the Kompetenzzentrum für Ernährung (KErn) [Competence Center for Nutrition]. The BVS III, in continuation of its predecessors of 1995 and 2002/03, is intended to record the current nutritional status as well as consumption habits and nutrient supply, and thus form the basis for suitable health and nutritional policy measures. The project duration is three years (01/2020 to 12/2022). The total funding amounts to approx. EUR 1.5 million.


The aim of the research project is to evaluate the biofunctional properties of sweet lupin and sunflower flours, which contain high levels of dietary fiber and polyphenols. The focus of the studies carried out in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo is on the influence of the bioactive components on the composition of the intestinal microbiome and the formation of associated metabolites. From the investigations, insights into flour processing while maintaining bioactivity will be derived and validated in various food applications.

The project is carried out in cooperation between the Chair of Nutrition and Immunology of the Technical University of Munich and the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV and is supported by the Core Facilities Microbiome and Human Studies of the ZIEL - Institute for Food & Health.

Funding volume: € 0.5 million

Project duration: January 2022 - June 2024

Funding: The IGF project by the Research Association of the Industrial Association for Food Technology and Packaging (IVLV e.V.) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action via the AiF as part of the program for the promotion of industrial community research (IGF) based on a decision of the German Bundestag.

IGF Project number: 22014 N

Former projects

Main aim of the interdisciplinary research in enable is to develop new strategies to promote healthier food choices in all stages of life. Lead by the ZIEL, the cluster is one out of four promoted by the BMBF competence cluster in Germany.

The clusters speaker: Prof. Dr. Hans Hauner (ZIEL - Institute for Food & Health Member)

First funding phase: june 2015 - august 2019
Second funding phase: september 2018 - august 2022
Finance volume: 11,6 Mio. €

enable consortium:

  • Technical University of Munich (ZIEL - members: Profs. Haller, Hauner, Hofmann, Gedrich)
  • ZIEL Core Facility Human Studies (Prof. Thomas Skurk)
  • Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich
  • Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf
  • Helmholtz Centre Munich (ZIEL - member: Prof. Linseisen)
  • Fraunhofer-Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV (ZIEL - member: Prof. Eisner)
  • German Research Centre for Food Chemistry, Leibniz Institute

The ZIEL contains the enable administration office, incures the entire financial settlement, grants four stipends for dissertations and provides the Core Facilities for sample analysis.

DFG Priority Program SPP1656

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Dirk Haller; Program Office and Coordination at ZIEL

Funding volume: 16 Mio €
Duration: 2016 - 31.12.2020

  • National Initiative on Mechanisms of Gut Health and Microbiome
  • Support of the Gnotobiotic Facility and Microbiome Standardization