Press Release No. 14 | May 9, 2022

DFG to Fund 13 New Research Training Groups

Topics ranging from recycling of refractory materials and material microbe micro-environments to the galaxy of grammatical construction / Total of approximately €93 million for first funding period

Topics ranging from recycling of refractory materials and material microbe micro-environments to the galaxy of grammatical construction / Total of approximately €93 million for first funding period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 13 new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further bolster the support offered to early career researchers. This was announced by the relevant Grants Committee, which met by video conference. These new RTGs will receive funding over an initial period of five years from autumn 2022 onwards. For the first time, they also have the option of using the Research Training Groups programme to fund doctoral researchers for more than 36 months up to a maximum of 48 months. The Joint Committee adopted these changes in December 2020 to facilitate adequate DFG funding for doctorates. The teams therefore have greater flexibility to address subject-specific requirements – in an experimental discipline for example – or to do greater justice to special features of qualification programmes, such as that for the International Research Training Group (IRTG).

The newly formed RTGs will receive funding totalling approximately €93 million. This includes a 22-percent programme allowance for indirect project-related costs. The new teams include two RTGs involving partner universities in Canada and Sweden. In addition to the 13 institutions, the Grants Committee agreed to extend funding for another six RTGs for an additional funding period. Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers an opportunity to complete their doctorates in a structured research and training programme at a high level of expertise. The DFG currently funds a total of 228 RTGs, including 30 IRTGs.

The new Research Training Groups in detail
(in alphabetical order of host university, with information on the spokesperson as well as the other applicant universities and cooperation partners):

2-D materials have exceptional properties, including electrical and optical properties as well as mechanical and electrochemical stability. This makes them interesting for many applications, such as in new generations of photodetectors and battery storage systems. The International Research Training Group “Scalable 2D-Materials Architectures (2D-MATURE): Synthesis and Processing, Characterization and Functionality, Implementation and Demonstration” is firmly focused on the scalable synthesis of these materials, i.e. their synthesis even on a larger than laboratory scale. The researchers in Germany and Canada aim to investigate the associated interfacial phenomena and contribute to the creation of novel construction elements. The long-term aim is that 2-D materials should also be applied beyond the laboratory scale. (University of Duisburg-Essen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Gerd Bacher; cooperation partner: University of Waterloo, Canada)

Radiotherapy is a key element in cancer treatment. Yet there are major individual differences in the effectiveness, toxicity and resistance mechanisms of radiotherapy, which are poorly understood. The Research Training Group “Heterogeneity, plasticity & dynamics in cancer cell, tumor and normal tissue responses to cancer radiotherapy” therefore seeks to use biostatistics methodology and various modelling from preclinical models and patient samples to reveal the biological principles that condition individual responses to therapy. (University of Duisburg-Essen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Verena Jendrossek)

Grammatical construction is a theoretical approach in linguistics. It is based on the conjecture that a person’s entire linguistic knowledge is represented by a network of form-meaning pairings (“constructions”). The Research Training Group “Dimensions of Constructional Space” involves researchers from the fields of linguistics, psychology and brain research addressing key issues of this concept and shedding light on its application to various hitherto little-studied languages, language stages and language contact situations. (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ewa Dabrowska)

What are the social, political, economic and media conditions under which literature emerges? And what effects does literature have on its immediate environments? These are the issues addressed by the Research Training Group “Literature and the Public Sphere in Differentiated Contemporary Cultures”. It aims to examine contemporary literature in different languages and cultural contexts since 1945 with regard to changing and fragmenting public spheres. It is characterised in particular by its praxeological concept of literature, which includes socio-cultural contexts, political frameworks, institutional conditions, the literary world and literary life in its analysis. (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Dirk Niefanger)

The Research Training group “Refractory Recycling: A contribution for raw material-, energy- and climate-efficiency in high temperature processes” aims to conduct research into reuse possibilities for refractory ceramics used in high-temperature applications in metallurgy, in the building materials industry, and in the chemical industry. Currently these composites are often made from newly produced feedstock materials, which results in considerable resource consumption and high CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process. The consortium wants to use its fundamental research findings to contribute to more efficient recycling in this area. (Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Christos G. Aneziris)

The cytoskeleton is a microscopic network of protein filaments and tubules in the cytoplasm of many living cells. It is responsible for stabilising the cell structure, but also for movements and rearrangements within a cell. The Research Training Group “Cytoskeletal elements of active matter – from molecular interactions to cellular biophysics (CYTAC)” is devoted to molecular and biophysical aspects of cytoskeletal structures and dynamics, and aims to investigate how these are linked to biological function. The original aspect of this is their research into the cytoskeleton across different size scales: from the level of individual molecules, through to mesoscopic filaments and membranes, and cells and tissues. (University of Göttingen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Sarah Friederike Köster)

What are the interactions between pathogen and host in bacterial, viral and parasitic infectious diseases among humans? This is the main question for the Research Training Group “Humans and Microbes: Reorganisation of Cell Compartments and Molecular Complexes during Infection”. It aims to conduct research into the manner in which human pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites use, modulate or suppress large molecular structures and membrane transport in host cells. The consortium uses a variety of methods little used in this field until now to identify basic principles of host-pathogen interaction. (University of Hamburg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Martin Aepfelbacher)

So-called heteronomous texts, such as commentaries or chronicles, are consciously reliant on ancient, authoritative and canonical texts. They are the central research topic of the Research Training Group “Autonomy of heteronomous texts in Antiquity and the Middle Ages”. These texts each form their own “autonomy” due to the updated selection and processing of their originals on various levels – scientific, cultural, formal, aesthetic. This process exhibits numerous parallels to modern practices of cultural transmission and renewal, but also to the simplification of complex issues, for example in didactics and the internet. This consortium aims to examine the process based on ancient and medieval texts. (University of Jena, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Katharina Bracht)

Diseased or damaged bones and joints are often treated with implants. This can result in bacterial infections that require renewed surgery and the administration of antibiotics. Such infections are increasingly difficult to treat given the rise in antibiotic resistance. The Research Training Group “Material-Microbes-Microenvironments (M-M-M): Antimicrobial biomaterials with tailored structures and properties” is seeking to develop surface structures whose physical-chemical properties are such that the growth of harmful microbes on the implants is prevented in the long term, even without antibiotics. At the same time it aims to ensure that these surfaces enable the growth of human (bone) cells. (University of Jena, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Klaus D. Jandt)

Research involving many large-scale physics experiments is being conducted to enable ever more precise measurement of particle-physical processes and thus discover new physical phenomena. This requires the development of new types of detectors, which is the research task the Research Training Group “Particle Detectors For Future Experiments - From Concept to Operation” has devoted itself to. It involves the exploration of fundamental aspects of high-energy, astroparticle, hadron and nuclear physics. In particular, it involves the group developing new detectors, thus operating at the interface between engineering and physics. (University of Mainz, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Matthias Schott)

Neuromodulation involves using electrical impulses or medication to reversibly influence selected neuronal structures in the body. The Research Training Group “Neuromodulation of Motor and Cognitive Function in Brain Health and Disease” has set itself the objective of examining neuromodulation procedures in two common neurological diseases – strokes and Parkinson's disease – to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms of these diseases, and to develop innovative treatments. (University of Oldenburg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christiane M. Thiel; also applying: University of Cologne)

In phases of strong hormonal change, such as puberty, pregnancy or menopause, it is important for women to be aware of the increased risk of psychological disorders including depression and anxiety. It is the long-term objective of the International Research Training Group “Women's mental health across the reproductive years” to better understand the underlying mechanisms in this context for the purposes of prevention and treatment. Researchers from Germany and Sweden aim to analyse the connections between hormonal transition phases and mental health, and to test their hypotheses with a focus on the influence of sex hormones. (University of Tübingen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Birgit Derntl; cooperation partner: Uppsala University, Sweden)

The key focus of Research Training Group “Non-canonical G protein signaling pathways: Mechanisms, functions, consequences” is on signalling pathways that regulate numerous biological processes in the body and are important in treating widespread diseases like diabetes mellitus, cancer and stroke, but also less common diseases. The participating researchers aim to analyse and optimise pharmacological tools and thus close the gaps in our understanding of selected non-canonical signalling pathways. They hope this will make a contribution to the development of new and efficient therapeutic strategies. (University of Tübingen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Bernd Nürnberg)

The RTGs with their funding extended for an additional period
(in alphabetical order of host university, with information on the spokesperson as well as the other applicant universities and cooperation partners, and with references to the project descriptions in GEPRIS – the DFG internet database for current funding):

Further Information

Media contact:

  • DFG Press and Public Relations
    Tel. +49 228 885-2109

The Research Training Groups spokesperson can also provide additional information.

Programme contact at the DFG Head Office:

  • Dr. Armin Krawisch
    Head of Research Training Groups and Career Support
    Tel.+49 228 885- 2424

More detailed information on the funding programme and the Research Training Groups to be awarded funding can be found here: