Public Release: 

Eight new research units, 1 new clinical research unit

Topics range from low-temperature combustion to colorectal cancer research / €23 million funding for 3 years

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will set up seven new Research Units and one new Clinical Research Unit. This was decided by the Senate of the DFG in its summer session during the DFG Annual Meeting in Mainz. In addition to the already established Units, another Research Unit is now in a position to start work. This Unit is funded jointly by the DFG and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The DFG Senate had already supported this Unit in March 2016 and approval has now been obtained from the Austrian partner organisation.

The research collaborations will offer researchers the possibility of pursuing current and pressing issues in their research areas and establishing innovative work directions. Clinical Research Units are also characterised by the close connection between research and clinical work. The maximum funding duration of Research Units and Clinical Research Units is two periods of three years. In the initial funding period, the nine new groups will receive approximately €23 million in total. As a result, the DFG will be funding a total of 190 Research Units and 19 Clinical Research Units.

The new Research Units

(In alphabetical order by spokesperson's university)

What is in store for the engine of the future? The mobile drive systems of tomorrow ought to produce less carbon dioxide in the combustion process and there should be a significant reduction in their emission of toxic substances such as nitrous gases and soot. The "Optimization-Based Multiscale Control of Low-Temperature Combustion Engines" Research Unit will look into the low-temperature combustion procedure in order to achieve the stated objectives. The process can be adapted to both petrol and diesel engines and comes with the advantage of emissions already being reduced inside the engine.
(Spokesperson: Dr.-Ing. Thivaharan Albin, RWTH Aachen University)

The "Journal Literature: Format Conditions, Visual Design, Cultures of Reception" Research Unit will examine text and image types not initially published in book form, but within journals or newspapers in the 19th century. Researchers intend to use their investigations to draw attention to the fact that books were just one of several media options at the time for literary categories. In addition, they want to show that alternative publication formats also deserve to be taken seriously. The aim of the Research Unit is to develop basic principles for the history of media literature which take into account literature in journals and in books and analyse their interactions.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Nicola Kaminski, University of Bochum)

Gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs) are used in fuel cells and catalysts and play a key role in the electrochemical processes that take place there. The "Multiscale Analysis of Complex Three-Phase Systems" Research Unit will focus on the GDEs that help to reduce oxygen in silver catalysts. In so doing, the Unit aims to understand and describe the complex interaction of reaction and transport processes in gas diffusion electrodes and their impact on the performance of electrodes as a whole.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Thomas Turek, Technical University of Clausthal)

We have seen improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer over the past few decades. Nevertheless, innovative and targeted cancer treatments work less effectively on colorectal cancer than on other tumours. The "Cell Plasticity in Colorectal Carcinogenesis" Research Unit will focus heavily on the environment for immune cells in the intestines as it is assumed that there is a direct correlation between inflammation and cancer. The researchers want to analyse and better understand the complex network of signals in the immediate vicinity of the colorectal cancer.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Florian Greten, Georg-Speyer-Haus, Institute for Tumor Biology and Experimental Therapy, Frankfurt/Main)

The "From Few to Many-Body Physics with Dipolar Quantum Gases" Research Unit is jointly funded by the DFG and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and has been set up to further develop physics of dipolar quantum gases in the field of ultracold gases. Dipole forces are exerted between molecules and atoms with dipole moments. Dipole-dipole interactions can dramatically change the properties of ultracold gases. The Research Unit will work on techniques to produce and specifically manipulate ultracold dipole atomic and molecular gases and examine their collision properties.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Silke Ospelkaus, University of Hannover)

What impact do technological medical procedures have in cases of heart and lung failure? The "(Pre)terminal Heart and Lung Failure: Mechanical Relief and Repair" Clinical Research Unit intends to decipher the effects of mechanical relief in (pre)terminal heart and lung failure in order to develop new treatment strategies. The goal is to relieve or replace severely damaged organs such as the heart or lungs, using advanced medical technology in intra- and extracorporeal treatment procedures in the short or long term in order to enable a repair. We do not yet have a sufficient understanding of the mechanisms of action behind corresponding relief procedures.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Johann Bauersachs, Hannover Medical School)

The work of the "Reduced Penetrance in Inherited Movement Disorders: Clarifying Mechanisms to Protect Against Endogenous Disease" Research Unit focuses on hereditary movement disorders, e.g. the loss of control of movement, disturbances of equilibrium or muscular spasms, as seen in Parkinson's disease or dystonia. The Unit is investigating the so-called penetrance of these genetic diseases: how is it that the same genetic defects in some sufferers cause more severe movement disorders than in others? Are there endogenous mechanisms that counteract the manifestation of these hereditary diseases?
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christine Klein, University of Lübeck)

From high-energy to solid-state physics, so-called gauge fields are an essential tool in successfully describing physical phenomena. In ultracold atomic gases, artificial gauge fields can be created by coupling them to laser fields. Using these controllable synthetic fields, the "Artificial Gauge Fields and Interacting Topological Phases in Ultracold Atoms" Research Unit will investigate the dynamics of many-body systems and many-body topological phases.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Immanuel Bloch, University of Munich (LMU))

Doctors and teaching staff need to be able to make accurate diagnoses. The academic understanding of how diagnostic competences can be measured has constantly improved over the past few years. But how can these skills be sharpened in higher education? Researchers operating in the didactics of medicine, mathematics, physics and biology as well as in educational and psychological research into teaching and learning methods in the "Facilitation of Diagnostic Competences in Simulation-Based Learning Environments in Higher Education" Research Unit will work with simulation-based learning environments to examine the best way to design these in order to teach diagnostic action.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Frank Fischer, University of Munich (LMU))


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 and Clinical Research Units, visit:

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