Information for Researchers, No. 115 | December 14, 2023

DFG to Fund Three New Emmy Noether Groups in the Field of Toxicological Research

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) advises parliaments and organisations working in the public interest on issues such as assessing the health risks of substances and compounds. There are two Permanent Senate Commissions dedicated to this field of activity: the Permanent Senate Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area (MAK Commission) deals with health protection issues relating to human exposure to hazardous substances, particularly in the area of occupational health and safety, while the Permanent Senate Commission on Food Safety (SKLM) is responsible for dealing with food safety issues. On both these Senate Commissions, toxicological expertise is indispensable. For this reason, advancing research in the field of toxicology is of particular interest to the DFG. 

There has been a lack of toxicological research for many years. An analysis of the situation carried out in 2020 in connection with a DFG round-table discussion showed once again that the already tense situation is being further exacerbated by the fact that professorships in the field of toxicology are being done away with or transferred to different subject areas, there is a lack of research career prospects at universities in this field, and demand is increasing in the areas of regulation, administration and industry.

In order to preserve this crucial expertise, strengthen toxicological research in Germany and offer researchers in the discipline attractive academic career prospects, the DFG called on particularly well-qualified researchers in early career phases in the field of toxicology to submit proposals under the Emmy Noether Programme in 2022.

As a result of this call for proposals, three Emmy Noether Groups are now to be established and will start work in January 2024. The individuals concerned are all internationally recognised personalities whose research covers various topics within the field of toxicology.

The three projects at a glance:

  1. Dr. Tina Kostka, Kaiserslautern, will set up an independent junior research group on the topic of the “Toxicological evaluation of (processed) red meat ingredients and importance of heme oxygenase 1 in the context of colorectal carcinogenesis”. 
  2. Dr. Kirstin Schubert, Leipzig, will establish an independent junior research group on the topic of “Deciphering the molecular mechanisms of metabolism-disrupting chemicals during the interplay of adipocytes and macrophages”. 
  3. Dr. Carola Voss, Munich, will lead an independent junior research group on the topic of “OrganoidTox: Modeling airborne toxin-induced perturbations in cell circuits and their effect on respiratory health”. 

There will be an increasing need for toxicological expertise in the foreseeable future: scientific questions at the interface between human and animal health aspects and their relationship with the environment require consideration from an overall toxicological perspective. In particular, additional resources will be required to address global environmental toxicological issues, e.g. in the context of climate change, in view of the growing relevance of disease prevention, and also given the need to establish methods to replace animal experiments.

For this reason, the review panel involved in the call for proposals for DFG Emmy Noether Research Groups dedicated to toxicological research pointed out that, over and above this funding initiative, universities and research institutions should give further consideration to maintaining research structures and advancing toxicological research in order to contribute to strengthening this field of investigation in Germany. 

Further information

To the call for proposals “Emmy Noether Groups – Toxicology”, dated 30 November 2022:

The DFG Permanent Senate Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area (MAK Commission):

The Permanent Senate Commission on Food Safety (SKLM):

Contact at the DFG Head Office

Dr. Sigrid Hanke
E-mail: sigrid.ziegler@dfg.de
Telephone: +49 (228) 885-2676