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News | 2009

IV. Quarter 2009

DFG Approves Funding for 17 New Collaborative Research Centres

The DFG has approved the establishment of 17 new Collaborative Research Centres as of 1 January 2010. This decision was made recently by the relevant Grants Committee in Bonn. The new centres will initially be funded for four years with a total of €132 million. In addition, 20 percent overhead funding for indirect project costs will also be provided. The research topics involved range from modern prostheses to political reforms to marine bacteria.

DFG Establishes Eleven New Research Training Groups

The DFG has intensified its efforts to strengthen its support of young researchers. At its fall session in Bonn, the responsible Grants Committee approved the establishment of eleven new Research Training Groups. In these groups, doctoral researchers can earn their doctorates in a structured research and qualification programme. The topics range from muscular atrophy to sustainable chemistry to the meaning of “real” and “virtual” in modern cultures.

Differential Geometer Alexander Lytchak Receives von Kaven Award

(21.10.09) Differential geometer Alexander Lytchak will receive this year’s von Kaven Award for Mathematics presented by the DFG-managed von Kaven Foundation. Lytchak is a Heisenberg fellow funded by the DFG and is being honoured with the award primarily for his outstanding research in the field of singular Riemannian foliations. The award includes €10,000 in prize money and will be presented on 30 October as part of the German Mathematical Society (DMV)’s Gauss Lecture in Aachen.

Second Season of DFG Science TV a Success

With its video portal www.dfg-science-tv.de, the DFG continues to reach a broad and increasingly younger audience. Because there are a total of over 100 films now available to download, they are ideal for targeting at educational use.

Exclusion from Statutory Bodies and Reprimands: The DFG takes Action in Response to Scientific Misconduct in Göttingen

The DFG has taken disciplinary action as a result of the scientific misconduct by members of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 552 “Stability of Rainforest Margins in Indonesia” and the Research Training Group (RTG) 1086 “The Role of Biodiversity for Biogeochemical Cycles and Biotic Interactions in Temperate Deciduous Forests”, based at the University of Göttingen. The Joint Committee of the DFG agreed on disciplinary measures against five researchers at a session which took place in Bonn today, in accordance with the DFG’s agreed procedure for handling cases of scientific misconduct. The former coordinator of CRC 552, Professor Teja Tscharntke, and the former coordinator of RTG 1086, Professor Christoph Leuschner, will be barred from sitting on any of the DFG’s statutory bodies for a period of three years. Written reprimands will be issued against Dr. Jan Barkmann, Professor (apl) Heiko Faust and Professor Stefan Vidal. Eight other researchers were found guilty of scientific misconduct, although no further action was taken against them.

DFG Research Centre for "Renewable Therapies" to be Funded for a Further Four Years

(16.10.09) The DFG Research Centre for Renewable Therapies at the Technical University of Dresden is being extended and funded for a further four years after a very successful first funding period. This decision was taken by the Joint Committee of the DFG at its meeting in Bonn on 8 October. This means that the newest of the six DFG Research Centres can continue its projects until 31 December 2013. Over this period, it will receive approximately €30 million in funds.


III. Quarter 2009

DFG Presents its 2009 Funding Ranking

The higher education institutions (HEIs) in Germany are increasingly well prepared for the national and international competition in science and research. In recent years, many institutions have enhanced their research profiles and set clear thematic priorities. Funding from the DFG and other institutions and organisations is an important impetus for this development. This is the principal finding of the latest DFG Funding Ranking, presented by the DFG on 10 September 2009 in Berlin. Based on a broad data basis and detailed analyses, the 200 page report reveals the amount of funding acquired by German HEIs from different sources in the last few years and provides insight into the uses to which it was put.

DFG Establishes Five New Clinical Research Units

With the establishment of five new Clinical Research Units the DFG hopes to give a further boost to clinical research in Germany and drive progress in the scientific investigation and possibilities for the treatment of disease. Just like the existing Clinical Research Units, the newly established units also tightly link the fields of clinical research, applied research and basic research. They will focus on highly topical medical issues, such as improving the treatment of metastases in bowel cancer patients, or how to treat hormone-related obesity more effectively.

Positive feedback on the multimedia presentation of top-level research on the Internet video portal

The DFG’s Internet video portal launched at the beginning of the year aims to make it possible to experience top-level research through various media by presenting the institutions at German universities funded under the Excellence Initiative, adding them to the site gradually over the course of the year. So far, half of the total of 85 graduate schools, clusters of excellence and institutional strategies have been presented on the portal – time to take stock. There has been great interest in the videos, downloads and background information, and the cooperation between the scientists and the film makers is running very smoothly.

Joint Statement on Synthetic Biology

The new research field of synthetic biology will, in the medium term, open up a great deal of potential in application areas ranging from medicine through environmental technology to biotechnology. The DFG, acatech and Leopoldina present a joint statement on the opportunities and risks involved.

On a Quest for Sustainable Perspectives for Young Researchers

At the eighth Emmy Noether Annual Meeting, Emmy Noether fellows and a number of funding recipients of ERC Starting Grants discussed current and strategic issues relating to the promotion of young researchers in Germany with each other and with representatives from the DFG.

DFG presents 2009 MAK and BAT Values List

The Senate Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area has issued the MAK and BAT Values List for 2009. This year’s list contains 62 changes and new entries, including revised assessments of nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide and of zinc and its inorganic compounds.

DFG Approves Six Additional Research Units

Within the new Research Units, scientists and academics from different disciplines work together on a particular scientific question. The spectrum of topics studied ranges from psychology to virus research. The DFG usually supports this close cooperation for a period of six years with the aim of establishing new directions in research.

DFG To Fund Two New Humanities Centres for Advanced Studies

Through the Humanities Centres for Advanced Studies, the DFG aims to boost excellent research in the humanities and to give outstanding scientists and academics greater freedom to pursue their own research activities. The two new Humanities Centres will study justice and morality in current social contexts such as politics, law and ethics.

Road Map for the Next Phase of the Excellence Initiative

The road map for the next phase of the Excellence Initiative has been announced. Professor Matthias Kleiner, DFG President, presented the schedule for the continuation of the elite competition at the DFG’s annual press conference in Berlin on 2 July 2009.

Boldly Opening Up New Horizons

On the road to knowledge, science sometimes needs to follow unconventional paths, a fact that can be seen in many of the DFG’s activities during the past year. The 280-page annual report, published by Germany's largest research funding organisation, was presented recently at its annual press conference in Berlin. Examples of its strategic activities and new direction include enhancements to the Excellence Initiative, the Reinhart Koselleck Projects and the Europe Paper. In addition to this, the report also presents numerous projects funded by the DFG and all of the key data on its funding activities.

Elisabeth Knust Elected as New Vice President of the DFG

The DFG has a new female vice president: Professor Elisabeth Knust, a professor of developmental genetics in Dresden and Leibniz prizewinner, was elected to the Executive Committee of Germany's largest research funding organisation by the DFG’s General Assembly in Leipzig on 1 July 2009. She will be responsible for biology, taking over from Jörg Hinrich Hacker, who served the maximum six-year term. Professor Hacker received a long round of applause from the assembly.

Professor Matthias Kleiner Re-elected as President of the DFG

Matthias Kleiner will remain at the helm of the DFG for a further three years. The 54-year-old professor of forming technology and lightweight construction was re-elected by the DFG’s General Assembly in Leipzig on 1 July 2009. Professor Kleiner has been the President of Germany's largest research funding organisation since 2007 and is the first engineer to have held this office. His second term will commence on 1 January 2010.

The DFG’s New Look

Open, transparent, task-oriented and science-driven – this is how the DFG presents itself with its new corporate design. Germany's largest research funding organisation presented the main features and the first examples of its new image at its General Assembly in Leipzig. “The new corporate design makes the principles of the DFG’s work tangible and reflects our day-to-day work in an attractive and modern way,” said the President of the DFG, Professor Matthias Kleiner. Familiar elements have been retained, while also considerably extending the forms and options of graphic expression. The new corporate design will be gradually introduced for all of the DFG’s publicity material and publications over the coming months.


II. Quarter 2009

DFG Science TV Starts Second Series on the Internet

DFG Science TV is starting a second series of short, online science videos. The season was launched on June 16 at a press conference in Berlin. Ten research projects will provide insight into their daily work. Through the videos, viewers will experience "real" science. Topics range from mate choice from an evolutionary perspective, to the creation of an ecosystem, to gravitational wave physics. The videos in the second series are even more specifically tailored to the target group of 14–19-year-olds. The video portal boasts a considerably expanded website and has added more Web 2.0 features.

DFG Establishes Nine New Collaborative Research Centres

Effective 1 July 2009, the DFG will establish nine new Collaborative Research Centres. This decision has just been made by the responsible Grants Committee at its spring session in Bonn. The new centres will initially be funded for four years with a total of 73.6 million euros. Their topics range from cancer research to population migration to statistical models.

Research in Green Genetic Engineering Is Indispensable

Science and business in Germany demand more reliable legal and political frameworks and a more open social climate in order to be able to better exploit the opportunities offered by green genetic engineering. With this objective, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft (German Agricultural Society, DLG) released a joint memorandum on 13 May in Berlin, which brings the position of research into green genetic engineering in Germany back to centre stage.

Gold Intermedia-Globe Award for DFG Science TV

The DFG’s internet film portal DFG Science TV has been awarded gold in the Web/TV/Information category at the World Media Festival in Hamburg. The intermedia-globe Gold Award is given for outstanding media communication.

Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker Awarded the Order of the Rising Sun

Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, the former president of the DFG, has received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon in Tokyo, in honour of his many years of service to scientific cooperation between Japan and Germany and to the internationalisation of science and research.

DFG Establishes 14 New Research Training Groups

To further promote young researchers in Germany, the DFG is establishing 14 new Research Training Groups. This has just been approved by the responsible Grants Committee of the DFG in Bonn. The new Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers the opportunity to earn their doctorates in a structured research and qualification programme at a high level of subject specialisation and under outstanding conditions.

The First DFG Research Centres to be Funded for Another Four Years

Following a successful second funding period, the first three DFG Research Centres will again be extended for another four years. This decision was made by the Joint Committee of the DFG. As a result, the Research Centres established in 2001—"The Ocean in the Earth System" in Bremen, "The Center for Functional Nanostructures" in Karlsruhe, and "Research Center for Experimental Biomedicine" in Würzburg—will be able to continue their work through mid-2013. All three impressed the peer review panels and DFG committees with their outstanding research achievements and their capacity-building effects.

New DFG Office in Japan

On 15 April, DFG President Matthias Kleiner will officially open the new DFG office in Tokyo. The new office is the fifth foreign representative office of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). One of its main tasks is to provide support to German scientists and academics in their cooperative work with Japanese colleagues. But it also serves as a drop-in centre for Japanese scientists on the way to Germany.

Jutta Allmendinger Wins 2009 Communicator Award

The social scientist Jutta Allmendinger is the winner of this year's Communicator Award, awarded by the DFG and the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany. Allmendinger is a professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the current president of the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB). She has been selected to receive this award in recognition of her outstanding ability to raise public awareness of her research work on pressing topics in the fields of social, educational and labour market policy. Jutta Allmendinger is the first woman to receive the Communicator Award, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The Award is accompanied by prize money of €50,000 and will be presented on 23 June during this year's Summer of Science festival in Saarbrücken.


I. Quarter 2009

Open access and copyrights: no attack on freedom of publication

The Alliance of German science organisations (Allianz der Wissenschaftsorganisationen) considers the statement published by numerous publishers and authors, “In Favour of Freedom of Publication and Copyright Protection” (Für Publikationsfreiheit und die Wahrung der Urheberrechte), to be an unacceptable allegation that the Alliance intends to limit authors’ freedom of publication in a way that violates the German constitution. On the contrary, the Alliance’s Digital Information initiative – the target of the statement referred to above – strives to provide scientists with the best-possible information infrastructure so they can excel in their research.

Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes 2009: Six Researchers Recognised for Outstanding Achievements

Four women and two men have been chosen to receive this year’s Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, Germany’s top research award for young scientists. This is the first time in the history of the prize, which has been awarded annually by the DFG and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research since 1977, that the majority of the recipients are young women.

DFG Conference on European Perspectives on German-Russian Research Cooperation

The great potential of German-Russian research collaboration that has developed over the course of many years needs to be utilised for the whole of Europe, a fact agreed upon by participants of the DFG’s conference in Moscow. And science plays a pioneering role.

DFG awards Ursula M. Händel Animal Welfare Prize to research team from Hanover for innovative test procedure

The haematologist Professor Christopher Baum and his colleagues Dr. Ute Modlich and Sabine Knöß have been awarded the 2009 Ursula M. Händel Animal Welfare Prize. The prize was awarded to this research team from the Hannover Medical School (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, MHH) in recognition of their novel testing system for use in the development of gene therapies that significantly reduces the number of animal experiments required. The Ursula M. Händel Animal Welfare Prize to researchers and scientists who have made an exemplary and sustained effort to improve animal welfare in research. This is the third time that this biennial prize has been awarded, after having been awarded in 2004 and 2006 and this year is accompanied by an award of €50,000.

Encouraging High-Risk Research: DFG Approves Funding for Two New Reinhart Koselleck Projects

The DFG has announced that it will fund two new innovative and high-risk research projects. The Reinhart Koselleck Projects will be conducted by Professor Margit Zacharias, a nanotechnologist from Freiburg, and Professor Reinhard Dörner, an atomic physicist from Frankfurt. They will each receive €1.25 million, which they will be able to use flexibly for their projects over the next five years.

Seibold Prize: Outstanding Promoters of Understanding between Japan and Germany

Professor Makoto Ida, a professor of law from Tokyo, and Professor Wolfgang Schamoni, professor emeritus of Japanese studies from Heidelberg,, have been selected to receive the 2009 Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize by the DFG (German Research Foundation). This award is given in recognition of their contribution to the advancement of science and mutual understanding between the two countries. The prize, which is financed through a fund donated by the former President of the DFG, Eugen Seibold, and his wife, is worth 10,000 euros to each recipient and will be conferred for the seventh time this year.

DFG Launches Internet Video Portal on the Excellence Initiative

Making it possible to experience top-level research in Germany using multimedia is the aim of the new internet video portal on the Excellence Initiative, launched by the DFG on 19 January 2009. Each of the facilities at German universities funded under the Excellence Initiative will be presented in a short film, accompanied by up-to-date news and background information, on www.exzellenz-initiative.de and www.excellence-initiative.com . The bilingual portal is aimed at the general public, both in Germany and abroad, and is the biggest project to date publicising the Excellence Initiative, which has seen the German government and scientific community join forces to promote outstanding research projects and institutions.

DFG Science TV to be Continued

DFG Science TV, the online television channel provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), is to be continued following its successful launch last year. In 2009, once again, scientists and researchers will take to the camera themselves to document and explain the work they do.


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