A networked approach to addressing new questions facing basic research - that is the formula for success of the Priority Programmes of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). On 27 April 2007 the DFG Senate passed a resolution on the establishment of 13 new projects, which will bring the total number of DFG-funded initiatives to 117 from the start of 2008. The new programmes, which were selected from 47 submitted proposals, will receive approximately 63 million euros during their initial funding period. Priority Programmes facilitate the networking of German and international research activities in well-defined, promising subject areas and promote the further development of research by means of coordinated, geographically distributed funding in novel areas. Priority Programmes generally run for a period of six years.
The new Priority Programmes:
The role of ubiquitin-like protein modifications (UbF) in cells will be investigated in a project called "The Regulatory and Functional Network of Ubiquitin Family Proteins". The UbF and network properties that have been discovered in recent years provide the main focus of this project. (Coordinator: Professor Wolfgang Dubiel, Charité University Hospital, Berlin)
"Polymer-Solid Contacts: Interfaces and Interphases" is a project that examines compounds made of polymers and other solids. These compounds are ubiquitous and of great importance, but not yet understood from a scientific point of view. (Coordinator: Professor Florian Müller-Plathe, Technical University of Darmstadt)
The project "Elementary Processes of Organic Photovoltaics" studies energy generation using photovoltaics, an issue that is highly topical from an economic and environmental-policy standpoint. Organic solar cells are of particular importance as a result of the better availability of raw materials for a broader range of applications. (Coordinator: Professor Karl Leo, Technical University of Dresden)
Due to their modular structure, the metal-organic framework (MOF) compounds, which were first synthesised in the 1990s, far exceed the capacity and the functionality of conventional porous materials. In the Priority Programme of the same name, chemists and physicists seek to create tailor-made MOFs, which can be used for energy storage, the separation of materials, selective catalysis and as sensors with special optical and electrical properties. (Coordinator: Professor Stefan Kaskel, Technical University of Dresden)
The Priority Programme "Host-adapted Metabolism of Bacterial Infectious Agents" is concerned with a crucial question for infection biology: what is the relation between the metabolism of bacteria and that of their host" The relevance of this issue is apparent against the background of the continual worldwide development of new resistant infection diseases. (Coordinator: Professor Michael Hensel, Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
The investigation of new concepts, materials and technologies for systems with alterable optical properties, such as image enlargement or lenses with alterable focus length, is the goal of the Priority Programme "Active micro-optics". The potential application areas of this research include optical measuring and sensor technologies, medical engineering and monitoring cameras in difficult to access environments. (Coordinator: Professor Hans Zappe, Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg)
The scientists in the Priority Programme "Optically Generated Sub-100 nm Structures for Biomedical and Technical Applications" seek to identify an integrated theory from which optimised processes can be derived, so that materials in the nanometer range can be structured and utilised. (Coordinator: Dr.-Ing. Andreas Ostendorf, Hannover Laser Centre)
The Priority Programme "Scalable Visual Analytics: Interactive Visual Analysis Systems for Complex Information Spaces" is concerned with the synopsis of scientific visualisation, data analysis and man-machine interaction. (Coordinator: Professor Daniel A. Keim, University of Constance)
The Priority Programme "Biological Transformation of Hydrocarbons without Oxygen: From Molecular to Global Standard" will examine a topic of current discussion. Based on results that have only been obtained in the last ten years, the anaerobic microbial degradation of hydrocarbons is the focus of this project. (Coordinator: Professor Matthias Boll, University of Leipzig)
The modelling and simulation of highly complex and, in particular, highly dimensional systems is a key requirement for technological development in the natural sciences, engineering and finance and forms the subject of the project "Extraction of Quantifiable Information from Complex Systems". (Coordinator: Professor Stephan Dahlke, Philipps University of Marburg)
In the project "South Atlantic Margin Processes and Links with Onshore Evolution (SAMPLE)", scientists from various branches of the geosciences will examine the connection between the dynamics of the earth's mantle and changes on the earth's surface. (Coordinators: Professor Dr. Hans-Peter Bunge, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich; Professor Jan Behrmann, IFM-GEOMAR, Kiel; Professor Michael Weber, Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam)
The relations between geology, climate and ecology on the Tibetan Plateau is the topic of the Priority Programme "Tibetan Plateau: Formation - Climate - Ecosystems (IIP)". Based on this study, the scientists are aiming to achieve a greater understanding of global questions such as the availability of water in parts of East and Southeast Asia. (Coordinators: Professor Dr. Erwin Appel, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and Professor Volker Mosbrugger, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, Frankfurt)
The Priority Programme "Pluripotency and Cellular Reprogramming" deals with the capacity of stem cells to develop into other cell types. This is currently an important topic of discussion, especially in relation to the comparison of embryonic and adult stem cells. One of the objectives of the project is to research pluripotency with a view to therapeutic applications. (Coordinator: Professor Albrecht M. Müller, Julius Maximilians University Würzburg)
Further information on the DFG's Priority Programmes can be found on the internet at: http://www.