Public Release: 

DFG to fund 13 new Collaborative Research Centres

Topics range from inflammation to the mathematics of wave phenomena to cultures of decision-making; approximately 113 million euros in funding for an initial 4-year period

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

This news release is available in German.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved the establishment of 13 new Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs). This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee during its spring session in Bonn. The new CRCs will receive approximately 113 million euros in funding. There will also be a 20 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. Four of the 13 networks are CRC/Transregios, which are spread across multiple research sites. The new centres will be funded for an initial four-year period starting on 1 July 2015.

In addition to the 13 new Collaborative Research Centres, the Grants Committee also approved the extension of 28 existing CRCs for an additional funding period. As a result, the DFG will be funding a total of 241 Collaborative Research Centres as of July 2015.

The new Collaborative Research Centres in detail (in alphabetical order by host university):

Emotions and feelings play a key role in interpersonal interaction. They are also fundamental in the social life played out in the interconnected mobile worlds of the 21st century. Building on this thesis, the Collaborative Research Centre entitled "Affective Societies - Dynamics of Social Coexistence in Mobile Worlds" aims to establish a new understanding of societies. The research programme in social sciences and cultural studies plans to analyse the dynamics of emotions in various environments and identify forms of emotional communitisation and tensions between social groups. Researchers will focus on contemporary phenomena where the role of social media is being investigated in terms of the cycle of and change in emotional repertoires in various social and cultural contexts. An example of this is the case of the images of Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who set himself on fire as a protest. That act became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution in 2010/2011.
(Host University: Free University of Berlin, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Birgitt Röttger-Rössler, also participating: Technical University of Berlin; Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Evangelisches Krankenhaus Königin Elisabeth Herzberge, Berlin)

Inflammation is an important repair mechanism in the human body that activates immune cells that react to tissue stress and damage. The "Checkpoints for Resolution of Inflammation" Collaborative Research Centre aims to help better understand which molecular processes are involved in stopping this immune response after repair. This is important because immune cells that are not "switched off" continue to have an effect on healthy tissue, which can develop into so-called chronic inflammation, e.g. asthma or arthritis. Basic mechanisms in the immune system, the activation of defence cells and the relationship between tissue structure and cell death will be investigated to discover why the suppression of inflammatory response does not work, particularly in chronic inflammation.
(Host University: University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Georg Schett, also participating: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Erlangen)

The Collaborative Research Centre "Immune-Mediated Pathology as a Consequence of Impaired Immune Reactions (IMPATH)" is based on a paradox. Contrary to the traditional perception that an overactive immune system causes certain diseases, there are new findings that these immunopathological diseases can also be caused by impaired immune responses. The scientists' goal is to present this paradox as an important and clinically relevant principle of biology that explains inflammatory responses. In doing so, immunostimulation and immune reconstitution will be assessed as therapeutic treatments for inflammatory diseases.
(Host University: University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stephan Ehl, also participating: Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg)

"Education and Religion in Cultures of the Mediterranean and Its Environment from Ancient to Medieval Times and to the Classical Islam" is the focus of a Collaborative Research Centre that deals with tension between education and religion in various eras, regions and disciplines in order to broaden and hone the historical image of (religious) cultures. The researchers involved will take the relationship between scholarly knowledge, libraries and religious reinterpretations into account. They will analyse the historical interpretations of sacred texts, the understanding of the role of Christian teachers and gender-specific problems in mediation processes. The studies relate to the period between the fifth century BC and the thirteenth century AD.
(Host University: University of Göttingen, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Peter Gemeinhardt)

In existing production and manufacturing processes for hybrid structural components, the joining process only takes place during the mechanical working phase or at the end of the process chain. In contrast to this, tailored components ("semi-finished products") that are joined prior to the moulding process are used in the Collaborative Research Centre "Process Chain for Manufacturing Hybrid High-Performance Components by Tailored Forming". Scientists will seek to develop the scientific basis for this new manufacturing process known as tailored forming. The future goal is to use this technique to manufacture complex and highly robust structural components that cannot yet be manufactured using current state-of-the-art technology. The primary focus for the researchers working in materials sciences and joining, cutting, forming and measurement technology is to be able to manufacture hybrid components using various materials and specifically tailor their properties.
(Host University: University of Hannover, Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Bernd-Arno Behrens, also participating: IPH - Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover; Laser Zentrum Hannover)

In addition to the skin's role as a barrier to protect the body against its surroundings, the skin is also an important checkpoint in the immune system. The CRC/Transregio entitled "The Skin as a Sensor and Effector Organ Orchestrating Local and Systemic Immune Responses" will look at this complex organ and focus on molecular and cellular interactions in the skin. The group will use a combination of immunology, microbiology and dermatology to examine how an imbalance in the microenvironment of cells and interactions with microorganisms on the skin can activate pathogenic mechanisms that cause inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis or scleroderma.
(Host University: University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Alexander Enk, other applicant institutions: University of Tübingen; University of Mainz; also participating: German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg)

How and why does acute pain develop into chronic pain? The Collaborative Research Centre "From Nociception to Chronic Pain: Structure-Function Properties of Neural Pathways and Their Reorganisation" is dedicated to examining the underlying transition processes. The aim is to identify molecular mechanisms in pain development using imaging techniques and to examine them in combination with neural networks and the subjective perception of pain. The focus will be on plastic changes in the structure and function of neuronal networks. In clinical studies involving pain patients, interactions with emotional, motivational and cognitive processes will be included in the analysis.
(Host University: University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Rohini Kuner, also participating: Technical University of Munich; German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg; European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg; Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg; Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim)

The CRC/Transregio "High-End Light Microscopy Elucidates Membrane Receptor Function (Receptor Light)" intends to use and develop powerful imaging technology to address how cell membrane receptors are distributed and how they work. Cell membrane receptors are molecular sensors in animal and plant cells. After binding so-called ligands, the receptors generate specific signals that the cells use to communicate with each other and control the organism. The signals of two large classes of receptors in the cell membrane can be accurately described with the help of various tracing techniques for light microscopy procedures. This enables researchers to understand signal paths and complex structures, for instance in spatial and temporal processes in the central nervous system.
(Host University: University of Jena, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Klaus Benndorf, other applicant institution: University of Würzburg, also participating: Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology, Jena)

Waves can be found everywhere: when propagating light or sound, in heartbeats or in modern communication technology. The goal of the "Wave Phenomena: Analysis and Numerics" Collaborative Research Centre is to understand the analytical aspect of wave propagation in realistic conditions, to numerically simulate it and ultimately to control it. The fundamental methodical approach entails a combination of mathematical analysis and numerics. The research programme thus concentrates on characteristic wave phenomena such as the occurrence of standing and progressive waves or wave fronts, oscillations and resonances, wave regimes as well as wave reflection, diffraction and scattering. In addition to basic research into waves, the application-oriented approach is geared towards optics and photonics, biomedical engineering and applied geophysics.
(Host University: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Marlis Hochbruck, also participating: University of Tübingen; University of Stuttgart)

Relying on 14-day weather forecasts is not currently possible because the atmosphere is a chaotic and sometimes erratic system, even for researchers, and is difficult to predict. The CRC/Transregio "Waves to Weather" aims to better portray and understand the complex interaction between physical processes, e.g. when hurricanes, hailstorms, monsoons, cyclones, peak gusts or heat waves occur. To this end, researchers will examine atmospheric dynamics, cloud physics, statistics and numerical modelling together with an expert on the visualisation of three-dimensional simulations and ensemble analyses. The aim is also to help improve the quality of long-range weather forecasts.
(Host University: University of Munich (LMU), Spokesperson: Professor Dr. George Craig, other applicant institutions: University of Mainz, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, also participating: University of Heidelberg; Technical University of Munich; German Aerospace Center, Weßling)

The "Cultures of Decision-Making" Collaborative Research Centre will examine social decision-making practices from the Middle Ages to the present day using historical comparisons and an interdisciplinary approach. In this context, decision-making is considered to be a process used in social behaviour to manage complexities. It therefore changes depending on the context, so it cannot be described as timeless or consistent. The research group will study how decision-making processes have been shaped or modelled, orchestrated and reflected upon in various historical and culture-specific contexts. The group will also look at how decision-making has shaped the institutional structure of society and social power structures, for instance using the examples of decisions made by politicians, religious figures and sovereignty, in public debates or autobiographies.
(Host University: University of Münster; Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger)

"Quantitative Methods for Visual Computing" is the focal point of a CRC/Transregio that deals with visually depicting information. Visualisation is not considered a mere means to an end; it is quantified and optimised in the form of an independent discipline: visual computing. The aim of the group is to develop a more reliable technology for visual-based data analysis. This in turn should improve the repeatability and predictability of results and make their quality quantifiable. Researchers seek to develop standardised models and methods that can be used to measure and compare the effectiveness of techniques and the efficiency of algorithms and systems to create a methodical basis for the new discipline.
(Host University: University of Stuttgart, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Daniel Weiskopf, other applicant institutions: University of Constance, also participating: Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen)

In 2007, the discovery of the quantum spin Hall effect heralded the first experimental verification of what was previously only a theoretically predicted new quantum state of matter: topological insulators. These insulators can create a high level of stability on their surface, similar to levels found in conducting states in metals, while the inner volume of the material acts as an insulator. The "Topological and Correlated Electronics at Surfaces and Interfaces" Collaborative Research Centre will address the issues of how electronic correlations and topological physics in solids influence each other and how the properties of new states of matter are formed in solids through interaction or how they will be tailored in the future using the phenomena.
(Host University: University of Würzburg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ralph Claessen)

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Further Information

Media contact:
DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2443, presse@dfg.de

Further information will be provided by the spokespersons of the Collaborative Research Centres.

DFG Head Office contact:
Dr. Klaus Wehrberger, Head of Research Centres, Tel. +49 228 885-2355, Klaus.Wehrberger@dfg.de

More details about the funding programme and funded Collaborative Research Centres are available at: http://www.dfg.de/sfb/en/

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