News Release

DFG to fund 9 new Research Units and 1 Clinical Research Unit

Topics range from rheumatoid arthritis to the effects of volcanic eruptions on the Earth's climate system; approximately €28 million for the first funding period

Grant and Award Announcement

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing nine new Research Units and one new Clinical Research Unit. This decision was made by the DFG Joint Committee upon recommendation by the Senate during its winter session in Bonn. The new groups will receive a total of approximately €28 million, including a 22% programme allowance for indirect project costs, for an initial 3-year period. Research Units are generally funded for two three-year periods. In addition to approving the ten groups, the Committee extended eight Research Units and one Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences for a second funding period.

Research Units enable researchers to pursue current and pressing issues in their research areas and to take innovative directions in their work. Clinical Research Units are also characterised by the close connection between research and clinical work. Centres for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences are tailored to the working methods used in these disciplines and can be funded for two four-year periods. With today's decisions, the DFG is now funding 184 Research Units, 11 Clinical Research Units and 14 Centres for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The ten new Research Units
(in alphabetical order by spokesperson's university)

A deeper understanding of mass distribution and transportation in the Earth system is important to analyse central issues in the research areas of hydrology, oceanography, glaciology, geology and climatology. Researchers obtain the required information from satellite data describing the Earth's gravitational field. The Research Unit "New Refined Observations of Climate Change from Spaceborne Gravity Missions (NEROGRAV)" will now work on the development of novel evaluation methods and modelling approaches allowing more precise evaluation of the data gathered by satellite missions. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Flechtner, TU Berlin)

The aim of the Research Unit "Constructing Scenarios of the Past: A New Framework in Episodic Memory" is to develop a theory of episodic memory based on scenarios. The starting point is the assumption that when remembering past experiences and events, stored information is not simply retrieved from memory. Rather, using different memory contents, a scenario of the past is constructed from which the desired information is obtained. The Research Unit will therefore examine the cognitive and neuronal mechanisms behind the constructed scenarios that make up episodic memory. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng, University of Bochum)

The focus of the Clinical Research Unit "Phenotypic Therapy and Immune Escape in Cancer (PhenoTImE)" is on melanoma, a malignant form of skin cancer. Its work will also encompass research into tumours affecting the brain and pancreas. The Research Unit aims to identify unifying concepts of tumor plasticity and the associated development of therapy resistance across different tumor types and to elucidate underlying mechanisms. The long-term objective is to create a new approach for tumour treatments with the diagnosis and monitoring of tumour plasticity. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dirk Schadendorf, University of Duisburg-Essen)

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the peripheral joints. Previous research has primarily focused on the mechanisms underlying joint inflammation and the associated destruction of bone around the joint. The Research Unit "PANDORA - Pathways Triggering AutoimmuNity and Defining Onset of Early Rheumatoid Arthritis" will investigate the currently unanswered question of what early factors contribute to the manifestation of the disease. Its work will also consider exogenous factors such as alcohol consumption. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Gerhard Krönke, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

More accurate prediction of the climatic consequences of future volcanic eruptions requires a differentiated understanding of the effects of volcanic eruptions on the Earth's climate system. This is the objective of the Research Unit "Revisiting the Volcanic Impact on Atmosphere and Climate - Preparations for the Next Big Volcanic Eruption". Its investigations will be based on recently available methods for consistent modelling over a wide spectrum of scales and use of a diverse range of new satellite data. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Christian von Savigny, University of Greifswald)

The Research Unit "Understanding the Institutional Context of Health Inequalities among Young People. A Life Stage Approach" brings together researchers from the fields of medical sociology and public health. The starting point is the statistically well-documented correlation between social and health inequalities in children and adolescents, for which there is little resolution after six years of age. The Research Unit will analyse the underlying mechanisms to identify the causes of this correlation. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Matthias Richter, University of Halle-Wittenberg)

Physicists assume that some fundamental physical processes can be examined in the interaction of light with the quantum vacuum at maximum light intensities. However, previously there was no suitable technology for this. The Research Unit "Probing the Quantum Vacuum at the High-Intensity Frontier" seeks to draw up sound theoretical predictions for these quantum vacuum processes and research them in experiments using modern high-power lasers and new precision measuring techniques. (Spokesperson: Dr. Holger Gies, University of Jena)

In the Research Unit "Amorphous Molecular Materials with Extreme Non-Linear Optical Properties", researchers from the fields of chemistry and physics will examine the physical phenomenon of non-linear optical properties - more specifically, the emission of white light following radiation with a laser diode. The long-term aim is to understand what conditions substances need to meet to emit white light, how the emission is produced and how this property can be tailored to an even greater extent. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Stefanie Dehnen, University of Marburg)

Until now, damages in infrastructure such as bridges have been investigated using direct ultrasonic signals, as and when required. The Research Unit "Concrete Damage Assessment by Coda Waves (CoDA)" is pursuing a new approach based on the application of coda wave analysis methods from the geosciences. The objective is to develop a novel method for assessing the safety and stability of reinforced concrete structures. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christoph Gehlen, TU Munich)

The Research Unit "Local Self-Governance in the Context of Weak Statehood in Antiquity and the Modern Era" brings together researchers from numerous areas of the humanities, social sciences and geography. Its work will focus on the local level, as little consideration has been paid to this aspect in previous research. On the basis of case studies from the Mediterranean region in Antiquity and the global south of the present, the Research Unit aims to carry out a comparative analysis and typological recording of local regulatory patterns in order to be able to make generally valid statements beyond concrete periods and cultures. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Rene Pfeilschifter, University of Würzburg)

The nine research collaborations extended for a second funding period
(in alphabetical order by their spokesperson's university, with links to project descriptions in GEPRIS, the DFG's online project database):

FOR "Determination of the Neutrino Mass Hierarchy with the JUNO Experiment" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Achim Stahl, RWTH Aachen University)

FOR "Discursivizations of the New. Tradition and Innovation in Medieval and Early Modern Texts and Pictures" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Huss, FU Berlin)

FOR "G Protein Signalling Cascades: With New Molecular Probes and Modulators Towards Novel Pharmacological Concepts" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Evi Kostenis, University of Bonn)

FOR "Integrated Planning for Public Transportation" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Anita Schöbel, University of Göttingen)

FOR "Plasticity versus Stability - Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Strength" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Matthias Kneussel, University of Hamburg)

Advanced Studies Centre in SSH "Jewish Scepticism (HCAS-JS)" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Veltri, University of Hamburg)

FOR "Calcium Homeostasis in Neuroinflammation and Degeneration: New Targets for Therapy of Multiple Sclerosis?" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ricarda Diem, University of Heidelberg)

FOR "Interactions at the Neurovascular Interface" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ralf H. Adams, University of Münster)

FOR "Crossing the Borders: The Interplay of Language, Cognition, and the Brain in Early Human Development" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Barbara Höhle, University of Potsdam)


Further Information

Media contact: DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2109,

Further information will be provided by the spokespersons of the units.

DFG Head Office contact: Ursula Rogmans-Beucher, Quality and Programme Management Division, Tel. +49 228 885-2726,

Further information on DFG Research Units:

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