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Press Release No. 38 | 22. September 2017
DFG Approves Three New Research Units and One New Clinical Research Unit

Topics range from pancreatic cancer to the configurations of crisis in the arts / Approximately €15 million for first funding period

At its autumn session, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established three new Research Units and one new Clinical Research Unit. They will receive funding of approximately €15 million for an initial period of three years. The DFG now funds a total of 195 Research Units and 17 Clinical Research Units.

Research Units and Clinical Research Units are programmes through which the DFG supports collaboration between researchers interested in a specific area of research. The aim is to enable results to be achieved which would not ordinarily be possible with an individual grant. Clinical Research Units focus on disease- or patient-oriented clinical research. Basic researchers and physicians work closely together in research-based working groups set up permanently in clinical establishments. Research Units provide the staff and material resources required for intensive medium-term collaboration. They represent a flexible funding programme offering opportunities to independent junior research groups and allowing collaboration with non-university partners or with international researchers.

The New Research Units
(In alphabetical order by spokesperson’s university)

Type 2 immune responses in the conventional sense are induced by parasites, worms and various toxins. However, recent research shows that these immune responses also play a role in other physiological and pathological contexts. The Research Unit “Tissue Type 2 Responses: Mechanisms of Induction and Regulation” will therefore shed light on the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of type 2 responses, including in healthy tissue and inflammation processes.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Axel Roers, Technical University of Dresden)

Although intensive research has been carried out on pancreatic cancer, the chances of recovery are still low. One important characteristic of pancreatic cancer is the formation of a shell of connective tissue around the tumour. This shell contributes to the aggressiveness of the tumour, which also usually metastasises at an early stage and is largely resistant to chemotherapy. Until now, the focus of pancreatic cancer research has been on the tumour cells themselves. The Clinical Research Unit “Clinical Relevance of Tumor-Microenvironment Interactions in Pancreatic Cancer” intends to include the tissue surrounding the tumour in its studies. In the longer term, it is hoped that a better understanding of the molecular processes involved in the interaction between tumour cells and the surrounding tissue will allow new treatments to be developed.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Mathias Gress, University of Marburg, Universitätsklinikum Gießen und Marburg GmbH)

The internationally admired variety and quality of the performing arts in Germany are now a subject of discussion with regard to the social status of so-called high culture. The performing arts are often seen as being in a crisis that manifests itself as a contradictory constellation of heterogeneous factors. The Research Unit “Configurations of Crisis: Institutional Transformation Processes in Contemporary Performing Arts” intends to examine this constellation more closely. Researchers from the fields of theatre studies, musicology, occupational science and political science aim to identify transformational dynamics and develop a theory of institutional change for the performing arts.
(Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christopher Balme, University of Munich (LMU))

Epilepsy is a common and serious disease. Most of the genetic changes associated with epilepsy are unknown, as are the mechanisms that trigger the transition from a healthy to a diseased brain. One shared characteristic of genetic epilepsies is their age-dependent occurrence, which is also poorly understood. Developmental factors therefore presumably play a central role in the emergence of epileptic activity. The Research Unit “Epileptogenesis of Genetic Epilepsies” will investigate whether and how genetic mutations trigger epileptogenic processes. It will also study how these processes interact with developmental processes in the brain and therefore likely contribute to the age-dependent manifestation of epileptic seizures.
(Spokesperson: Dr. Holger Lerche, University of Tübingen)

Further Information

Media contact:

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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