News Release

DFG to fund 7 new research units

Topics range from a simulation process for building design to study of the autoimmune disease pemphigus; total of approximately €15 million for first funding period

Grant and Award Announcement

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will fund five new Research Units, one new Clinical Research Unit and one Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies. This was decided by the DFG Senate during its autumn session in Bonn. The collaborations will give researchers the opportunity to pursue current and pressing issues in their research areas and establish innovative directions in their work. Clinical Research Units are also characterised by the close connection between research and clinical work. Humanities Centres for Advanced Studies are specifically tailored to the working methods used in the humanities.

The maximum funding duration for Research Units and Clinical Research Units is two periods of three years; Humanities Centres for Advanced Studies can be funded for two periods of four years. In the initial funding period, the seven new groups will receive approximately 15 million euros in total. The DFG will now fund a total of 195 Research Units, 20 Clinical Research Units and 10 Humanities Centres for Advanced Studies.

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

Today, building projects depend not only on the architects' designs but also on computer simulations carried out by engineers. The combination of early architectural building plans and the detailed simulation processes which follow on from them does not always function smoothly. The Research Unit "Evaluation of Building Design Variants in Early Phases on the Basis of Adaptive Detailing Strategies" aims to enable the integrated use of digital building models. To achieve this, the researchers will develop methods to evaluate alternative building designs in the early development phase.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Markus König, University of Bochum)

The "Switchable Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOF-Switches)" Research Unit will study porosity switching phenomena in metal-organic frameworks. These frameworks are needed in the production of energy storage systems as well as in chemical catalysis and optical and chemical sensors. Metal-organic frameworks are very porous and only open their pores when they encounter specific gases or liquids. These properties make the pores of the material 'switchable'. In this context, the group primarily aims to better understand the gas-solid interaction.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Kaskel, Technical University of Dresden)

Acute viral infections of the lower respiratory tract - including pneumonia - are among the most common infections worldwide. The mortality rates for these diseases have remained almost unchanged for 50 years. For certain lung diseases, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), there are no effective pharmacological treatment methods. The Clinical Research Unit "Virus-Induced Lung Injury: Pathobiology and Novel Therapeutic Strategies" will combine basic research and clinical research to develop more effective treatments for the lung diseases mentioned here.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Werner Seeger, University of Giessen)

The "Proteogenomics of Marine Polysaccharide Utilization (POMPU)" Research Unit will study the processing of carbohydrate polymers by bacterial communities in the marine ecosystem, focusing on polysaccharides. A single bacterium could not utilise complex marine polysaccharides on its own; this can only be done by a community of bacteria. The researchers intend to study the entirety of the genomes and proteins in the bacterial community to find out how the bacteria work together to process the saccharides in a short time and how bacterial communities also adapt their composition to achieve this.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Schweder, University of Greifswald)

Pemphigus is a rare, often life-threatening autoimmune disease of the skin and mucous membranes. It causes the immune system to produce autoreactive antibodies which result in massive tissue destruction. The Research Unit "Pemphigus - from Pathogenesis to Therapeutics (Pegasus)", funded jointly with the Swiss National Science Foundation, will link basic and clinical research to seek new approaches to therapy for the disease. The research will focus on the immune response specific to pemphigus.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Michael Hertl, Philipp University of Marburg)

In the "Acoustic Sensor Networks" Research Unit, the participating researchers will investigate time synchronisation in distributed acoustic sensor networks. Sensor networks consist of distributed intelligent microphone systems that exchange data wirelessly. The focus of the work will be the development of new methods for learning and classification techniques for acoustic events and scenarios. The purposeful coordination of sensor nodes is an essential prerequisite for the coherent sound fusion, separation, equalisation, cancellation or localisation of acoustic signals.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Reinhold Häb-Umbach, University of Paderborn)

The Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies entitled "Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages" will study the historical epoch of the so-called 'Migration Period' from new perspectives. Until now, researchers have focused on the social significance of ethnic identities and the significance of the transition from the Roman to the post-Roman world. The group will now concentrate on questions of mobility and migration and expand the period under investigation to include the time after the Migration Period up to around 900. Rather than pursuing the approach used in the past of studying only military mobility, the group will also study the mobility of spiritual individuals and agrarian workers. The researchers intend to analyse the impacts of this mobility on local societies by means of a comparative historical approach.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Mischa Meier, University of Tübingen)


Further Information

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

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

For information on the DFG Research Units, Clinical Research Units and Humanities Centres for Advanced Studies, visit:

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