Press Release No. 15 | 26 April 2011
DFG Establishes 13 New Priority Programmes
Topics range from historical port structures to interactions in bacterial cultures, the stability of glass, and regenerative fuels
What role can the chemical conversion of solar energy play in future energy supplies? What are the elemental processes involved in light-driven water splitting and in the fuels produced regeneratively in this manner? How do viruses manage to cross the human-animal species barrier? How do environmental factors influence animal viral hosts? What constitutes a healthy thyroid gland metabolism? How do the mechanisms used by the human brain for information processing function, and what conclusions can be drawn for the treatment of hearing loss?
These are just some of the basic research questions which will be examined over the next few years by new Priority Programmes established by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation).
A total of 13 new Priority Programmes were established by the DFG Senate at its recent spring session in Bonn. These Programmes will commence work at the beginning of 2012 and leverage scientific expertise (both in Germany and further afield) in particularly current and emerging research fields.
The new Priority Programmes span the entire spectrum of scientific disciplines, from the humanities and social sciences to the life, natural and engineering sciences. Topics covered range from the development of joining processes in production engineering – for which the physical and chemical makeup of the mechanisms involved must, for the first time, be systematically studied – right through to detailed analyses of bacteria which, although genetically the same, breed very different subpopulations and can act in groups. Other Programmes will, for example, analyse the quality of software while it is running and being maintained in order to develop methods for future software development – a topic of considerable practical relevance for them. A high level of innovation potential is also demonstrated by a Priority Programme which aims to improve the resilience of glass. To do this, the research team will need to examine its topological structural properties at a microscopic level. Possible application areas include mechanical engineering, architecture and telecommunications.
To a large extent, the newly established Priority Programmes take an interdisciplinary approach. One will, for example, bring together fields such as biology and mathematics in order to develop a new mathematical foundation for an innovative theory of evolutionary biology. New ground is also being broken by a Programme which focuses on sea and river ports from Antiquity to the Middle Ages and interprets them and their associated transport and trade routes in terms of complex systems. This research involves not only various humanities fields, but also incorporates geophysics and oceanography. All the Programmes will also provide intensive support for early-career researchers. This is a fundamental prerequisite for the establishment of new Priority Programmes.
The 13 new Priority Programmes were chosen from a total of 57 submitted concepts. Each Programme will be individually announced by the DFG in the months ahead, and the funding proposals received will be evaluated using a strict review process to determine their scientific quality and their contribution to the overarching topic in question. Funding for 12 of the new Programmes will initially be provided over three years, while the other will be funded initially for two years. Around 23.9 million euros will be provided for all 13 new Priority Programmes during the first funding year. A good 70 million euros will be made available in total during the first funding period.
The DFG’s Priority Programmes normally run for six years. The approval of the 13 new Programmes means that the DFG will, from 2012 onwards, be funding a total of 94 Priority Programmes.
The new Priority Programmes (organised by scientific field) and their coordinators are:
Humanities and Social Sciences
Ports from the time of the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, The Foundation of Schleswig-Holstein State Museums at Schloss Gottorf, the Schleswig-Holstein State Archaeological Museum
Ecology and Species Barriers in Emerging Viral Diseases
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Christian Drosten, University of Bonn
Phenotypic Heterogeneity and Sociobiology of Bacterial Populations
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Kirsten Jung, The Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Ultrafast and Temporally Precise Information Processing: Normal and Dysfunctional Hearing
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Jutta Engel, Saarland University
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Eckhard Friauf, Technical University of Kaiserslautern
THYROID TRANS ACT – Translation of Thyroid Hormone Actions beyond Classical Concepts
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Dagmar Führer-Sake, The University Hospital of Leipzig (an institution under public law)
Probabilistic Structures in Evolution
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Ellen Baake, University of Bielefeld
New Frontiers in Sensitivity for EPR Spectroscopy: From Biological Cells to Nano Materials
Coordinator: Dr. Marina Bennati, Private Lecturer at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute)
Chemoselective Reactions for the Synthesis and Use of Functional Proteins
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Christian Hackenberger, Free University of Berlin
Fuels Produced Regeneratively Through Light-Driven Water Splitting: Clarification of the Elemental Processes Involved and Prospects for Implementation in Technological Concepts
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Wolfram Jaegermann, Technical University of Darmstadt
Design for Future – Managed Software Evolution
Coordinator: Professor Dr. Ursula Goltz, Technical University of Braunschweig
Plastic Deformation Joining
Coordinator: Professor Dr.-Ing. Peter Groche, Technical University of Darmstadt
Topological Engineering of Ultra-Strong Glasses
Coordinator: Professor Dr.-Ing. Lothar Wondraczek, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Caloric Effects in Ferroic Materials: New Concepts for Cooling
Coordinator: Dr. Sebastian Fähler, Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (IFW)
Detailed information on the DFG’s Priority Programmes, including a list of the Programmes currently funded, is available at
Further information on the newly approved Priority Programmes is available from their respective coordinators.