The Global Health Institute (GHI) is contributing to the understanding, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, which still claim 18 million human lives each year and account for half of the deaths in the developing world. The GHI comprises nine groups, all engaged in different facets of research linked to human health, but with strong emphasis on diseases of truly global importance such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Basic mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions and innate and acquired immunity against pathogens are being studied using multidisciplinary approaches. A unique feature of the GHI is its ability to tackle crucial world health issues by harnessing cutting edge technologies developed at EPFL and elsewhere. Among these the nanotechnologies, microengineering and informatics are proving particularly powerful at underpinning drug discovery and vaccinology research. Intensification of current research themes by applying novel technological innovations will continue and elucidating the basis of genetic predisposition to infectious diseases is also a priority, as this will open new avenues for diagnostics and personal medicine.