Public Release: 

DFG to fund 20 new collaborative research centers

Topics range from hepatitis viral infections and quantum systems to the adaptability of plants / Around 174 million euros in funding for initial 4-year period

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will establish 20 new Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs). This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee during its spring session in Bonn. The new CRCs will receive a total of 174 million euros in funding. There will also be a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. Six of the 20 networks are CRC/Transregios (TRR), spread across multiple research sites. All of the new CRCs will be funded for an initial four-year period, starting on 1 July 2016.

In addition to the 20 new Collaborative Research Centres, the Grants Committee also approved the extension of 24 existing CRCs for an additional funding period. As a result, the DFG will be funding a total of 264 Collaborative Research Centres from July 2016.

The new Collaborative Research Centres in detail (in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the name of the applicant universities):

The Collaborative Research Centre "Power and Domination - Premodern Configurations from a Transcultural Perspective" will investigate the various premodern forms of power and domination in Asia, Europe and North Africa. How were social orders actually structured in premodern times and how were they perceived? Both typical and special aspects of practices, symbols and discourses of domination and power are to be investigated by means of a transcultural comparison that transcends a Eurocentric perspective.

(Host university: University of Bonn; Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Matthias Becher)

Investigating the physics of open quantum systems is the goal of the CRC/Transregio "OSCAR - Open System Control of Atomic and Photonic Matter". To this end, new types of quantum states are to be produced and stabilised, and the resulting dynamics are to be controlled. This will allow a better understanding of the mechanisms of open quantum systems and their use as a tool of quantum control. The CRC/Transregio combines research on open systems with the concept of topological order.

(Host university: University of Bonn; Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Dieter Meschede; Additional applicant university: Technical University of Kaiserslautern)

The Collaborative Research Centre "From Coloured States to Evolutionary Structural Materials" aims to develop a new method of material development. To this end, approaches from biomedical and chemistry research will be applied to the development of metal structural materials. Instead of using traditional time-consuming investigations to determine the microstructural and mechanical characteristics of materials, the CRC will work towards a new high-throughput process for construction materials.

(Host university: University of Bremen, Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Lutz Mädler)

Investigations of entanglement, an important branch of quantum mechanics, are at the centre of the work of the CRC/Transregio "Entangled States of Matter". Complex quantum systems can undergo entanglements, which are simultaneous superpositions of different states of their subsystems. The theoretical investigations are also aimed at making such entanglements usable in macroscopic systems, and thereby ultimately laying the foundations for new forms of information processing. The experimental implementation will be undertaken in close collaboration with partners in Denmark and Israel.

(Host university: University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Alexander Altland; Additional applicant university: Free University of Berlin, Collaboration partner: Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel; Center for Quantum Devices, Denmark)

The Collaborative Research Centre "Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit" positions its work at the interface between landscape evolution and biological evolution - both are mutually dependent. The researchers will focus on arid and extremely arid regions where biological activity can be more easily identified and the earth surface processes better characterised because processes take place more slowly there.

(Host university: University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Tibor J. Dunai)

Mitochondria serve to produce energy for human cells. According to the latest findings, however, they play a more complex role within the cell than previously assumed. That is why research into their physiological integration into the cell environment is being stepped up. This is the starting point for the Collaborative Research Centre "Mitochondrial Regulation of Cellular Function", which will investigate how mitochondria influence the activity, differentiation and survival of the cell.

(Host university: University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Langer)

The Collaborative Research Centre "Control and Dynamics of Quantum Materials" will investigate quantum materials in which effects such as spin-orbit coupling and non-trivial topology play a role. Materials with strong electronic correlations are also to be investigated. They display particularly interesting order phenomena such as superconductivity, magnetism and other exotic phases.

(Host university: University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Paul H. M. van Loosdrecht)

The Collaborative Research Centre "Anisotropic Particles as Building Blocks: Tailoring Shape, Interactions and Structures" will pursue the question of how particle-based materials can be produced. The internal structure of materials depends on the characteristics of individual particles and also on how these are arranged. Nature offers impressive examples of materials with exceptional characteristics, such as wood and bone. But how can such materials be produced synthetically? The CRC aims to answer this question and in addition to undertake not only the synthesis of individual particles, but also the formation of higher-level structures.

(Host university: University of Constance, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Helmut Cölfen)

What happens when surfaces are printed and coated with different liquids? What processes occur when liquid meets a solid? How do wetting and dewetting depend on the mutual local impulse, heat and mass transport processes? The underlying mechanisms of the mutual interaction between these processes have largely not been understood to date, and are the focus of the Collaborative Research Centre "Mutual Interaction of Transporting and Wetting Processes". Although the physical phenomena take place only in a range of several nanometres or a few micrometres, they determine the efficiency of the processes as a whole as well as the resulting product quality.

(Host university: Technical University of Darmstadt, Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Peter Stephan)

States of non-equilibrium can be created in condensed material through ultra-rapid external stimuli such as light, pressure, electrical voltage or particles. The "Non-Equilibrium Dynamics of Condensed Matter in the Time Domain" Collaborative Research Centre aims to achieve a cross-material, microscopic understanding of such non-equilibrium states. To this end, new methods in experimental and theoretical physics will be developed to describe the process from the moment of the stimulus to a state close to equilibrium in time and space.

(Host university: University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Uwe Bovensiepen)

Up to 100 million people worldwide are affected by the various manifestations of the lung disease pulmonary hypertension (PH). The disease causes restructuring inside the blood vessels in the lung, which obstructs blood flow. This can lead to progressive loss of function and ultimately to heart failure. The researchers involved in the "Pulmonary Hypertension and Cor Pulmonale" Collaborative Research Centre aim to use a combination of basic research and clinical research to analyse the restructuring processes triggered by the disease and to develop specific treatment approaches.

(Host university: University of Gießen, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Norbert Weißmann)

The CRC/Transregio "Energy Transfers in Atmosphere and Ocean" will investigate energy transfer processes between various dynamic regimes in the atmosphere and the oceans that take place on varying scales of magnitude. Energy is exchanged between these various movement regimes. This process is important for the energy cycle in the atmosphere and the ocean; however, to date it has not been possible to depict it in modern Earth system models. The CRC/Transregio therefore aims to improve the quality of the models through quantification and modelling of these energy transfer processes. Ultimately, this could also result in more precise climate predictions.

(Host university: University of Hamburg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Carsten Eden; Additional applicant university: University of Bremen

Physics has been able to control isolated atoms and molecules for a long time now, thereby answering fundamental questions. The Collaborative Research Centre "Designed Quantum States of Matter (DQ-mat) - Generation, Manipulation, and Detection for Metrological Applications and Tests of Fundamental Physics" aims to extend the control over isolated atoms and molecules, that is, single-particle systems, to large quantum systems. It will investigate how the knowledge gained can be applied in metrology, the science of measurement. New methods will be developed to this end, in order to generate, manipulate and prove quantum states.

(Host university: University of Hanover, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Piet Oliver Schmidt)

Infections with hepatitis B and C viruses are amongst the most widespread human viral infections. They are often persistent, meaning that they remain in the host organism - the infection becomes chronic. Whether the infection becomes chronic depends on a complex interaction of viral and cellular parameters. The CRC/Transregio will investigate the "Determinants and Dynamics of Elimination versus Persistence of Hepatitis Viral Infection" in order to able to develop a therapy that prevents viral infections from becoming chronic.

(Host university: University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ralf Bartenschlager; Additional applicant universities: Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Technical University of Munich)

The Collaborative Research Centre "Isolated Quantum Systems and Universality in Extreme Conditions (ISOQUANT)" aims to detect universal physical characteristics in very different quantum systems. To this end, it covers a wide range of phenomena from particle and nuclear physics to atomic and solid-state physics. Many quantum systems display similar characteristics, although parameters such as temperature, density or field strength are very different. Therefore, universal areas exist if commonalities can be observed between apparently fundamentally different physical systems. The CRC aims to analyse and classify these so-called universality mechanisms.

(Host university: University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jürgen Berges)

The goal of the CRC/Transregio "Molecular Switches: Spatio-Temporal Control of Cellular Signal Transmission" is to compare processes in the cell that occur on differing time scales systematically. Such processes are controlled and spatially and temporally coordinated by molecular switches. The CRC/Transregio investigations have been made possible by the chemical and biological tools that have only recently been developed, which can be used to manipulate molecular switches in living cells.

(Host university: University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Walter Nickel; Additional applicant university: university: Free University of Berlin)

"Scales of Transformation: Human-Environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies" is the subject of investigation by this Collaborative Research Centre. The CRC will analyse different societies and their environmental conditions - from late Pleistocene hunter-gatherer societies to early states. The focus of the research is predominantly on the transformation of prehistoric and archaic societies as well as their different chronological, spatial and social dimensions. They will be compared with each other in a diachronic perspective.

(Host university: Kiel University, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Johannes Müller)

The Collaborative Research Centre "Magnetoelectric Sensors: From Composite Materials to Biomagnetic Diagnostics" will explore the physical limits of magneto-electrical sensor materials. For this purpose, the CRC will seek suitable composite materials and develop and model new sensor concepts. The research is intended to assist the development of a biomagnetic diagnostic system for investigating brain functions (MEG) and heart functions (MCG).

(Host university: Kiel University, Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Eckhard Quandt)

To date, the focus of clinical psychiatric research has been solely on shedding light on susceptibility to stress-related mental illnesses. The Collaborative Research Centre "Neurobiology of Resilience to Stress-Related Mental Dysfunction: From Understanding Mechanisms to Promoting Prevention" takes quite a different approach and asks which mechanisms protect some people from mental illness after stressful experiences. From this focus on resilience, the CRC in Mainz and Frankfurt hopes to gain new perspectives in relation to possible preventative measures.

(Host university: University of Mainz, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Beat Lutz)

Plants have the ability to react physiologically to changing environmental conditions. This complex process, known as acclimatisation, requires the coordinated interplay of metabolic reactions, cellular processes and genetic control. The CRC/Transregio "The Green Hub - Central Coordinator of Acclimatisation in Plants" will investigate how chloroplasts as "small organs" on the inside of the plant cell work as sensors and switching points. The researchers aim to find out how changes in light and temperature are translated by the plants into cellular processes, and which molecular switches play a significant role in this process.

(Host university: University of Munich (LMU), Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Dario Leister; Additional applicant universities: Humboldt University of Berlin and the Technical University of Kaiserslautern)


Further Information

Media contact:

DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2443,

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

DFG Head Office contact:

Dr. Klaus Wehrberger, Head of Research Centres Division, Tel. +49 228 885-2355,

More details about the funding programme and funded Collaborative Research Centres are available at:

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