About the Costerton Biofilm Center

The Costerton Biofilm Center is a unique interdisciplinary research center established to explore the field of chronic infections caused by bacteria.







Directors address

Bacterial biofilms and chemical biology approaches to control them have played central roles in my research for the past 25 years. I always marveled science for its international dimension, a view strongly shared with one of my main mentors Bill Costerton.

Professor Michael Givskov, Dr. Techn., Managing Director

In the 21st century, biofilms are considered the central mode of microbial life on Earth. The term “biofilm” equals a highly successful, resilient mode of bacterial life that serves to mitigate impacts of otherwise deadly external insults.  It’s a view that I strongly share(d) with my former mentor “Bill” Costerton who passed away in 2012. For billions of years, environmental bacteria have escaped annihilation by forming and living as biofilms. In fact, the biofilm mode seems to have a significant impact on a multitude of today’s infectious diseases, in particular those that show recalcitrance to antibiotic treatments regimes and recurrence. This view gains momentum in parallel with the emerging failure of the approved anti-bacterial drugs, a situation also referred to as AMR (development of antimicrobial resistance). It also gains momentum because of fundamental and translational research being done at biofilm centers around the world, including the Costerton Biofilm Center. At the “Costerton”, we seek to unravel the underlying molecular mechanisms that make single bacteria turn into highly aggregated and multi-resistant biofilms. We seek to understand how pathogenic biofilms are superior to single (planktonic cells) in evading our immune system, and how the “bad-guys” biofilms differ from their “good-guys” counterparts such as those microbiome communities with symbiotic and protective roles for our life and functioning in our organism. Furthermore, “Costerton” accommodates a chemical biology platform, by which we translate our contemporary infectious-biology research into novel anti-biofilm principles and in close collaboration with DTU-Chemistry actively develops drug candidates that can motivate the pharmaceutical industry and investors to produce new types of drugs that would support and or substitute for the ones that we are gradually loosing.

Future perspectives

While biofilms are everywhere and affect each and every facet of our lives, our understanding of how they are organized and how they function is still in its infancy. With the CBC, we wish to develop a comprehensive understanding that will allow us to understand interactions between bacteria and the human host, in healthy and diseased individuals and chemically control biofilms (as part of our novel antibiofilm drug discovery). This is done by means of cutting-edge technologies of contemporary life-science.

The Center provides a forum for scientists and clinicians and encourages research into the microbial aetiology of biofilms. By integrating translational and clinically relevant research, the Center takes lead in improved prevention and development of new treatments of diseases caused by biofilms. The research aims at explaining the riddle as to why biofilm-bacteria gain the upper hand in the fight against our immune system, and hopefully lead to new and innovative strategies for early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of chronic diseases for the benefit of public health.

Cystic fibrosis
Chronic ulcer

Bacteria are visualized by means of FISH hybridization (red) and immune cells by DAPI stain (blue). The images illustrate the common pattern in two different chronic diseases: aggregates of biofilm bacteria surrounded by numerous immune, inflammatory cells that fail to eliminate the biofilm.