Press Release No. 47 | November 7, 2022

DFG to Fund Eleven New Research Training Groups

Topics range from organic and inorganic semiconductors and standards of governance to processes in the heart and brain / Total of approximately €69 million for first funding period

Topics range from organic and inorganic semiconductors and standards of governance to processes in the heart and brain / Total of approximately €69 million for first funding period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing eleven new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further support for academic qualifications gained through doctoral programmes. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee in Bonn. From spring 2023 onwards, the new RTGs will receive a total of approximately €69 million over an initial period of five years. This includes a 22-percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. The new groups include two International Research Training Groups (IRTGs) with partners in Australia.

In addition to the 11 newly established groups, the Grants Committee agreed to an additional funding period for another ten RTGs. Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers an opportunity to complete their doctorates by following a structured research and training programme at a high level of subject-specific expertise. The DFG is currently providing funding to a total of 220 RTGs, including 27 international RTGs.

The 11 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):

The International Research Training Group Optical excitations in organic and inorganic semiconductors: Understanding and control through external stimuli is investigating how the function of a semiconductor can be changed. In doing so, it takes an approach that is inspired by nature itself: here, different functions in light-active systems are achieved by adapting the local environment of the semiconductor. The aim is therefore to define the functionality of the semiconductor through external stimuli without changing its chemical composition. The external stimuli used are light, local electromagnetic fields and self-organisation processes. (University of Bayreuth, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Anna Köhler; cooperation partner: Monash University and University of Melbourne, Australia)

The transmitters serotonin, dopamine and noradrenalin play an important role in the modulation of emotion, motivation and attention in the brain. The Research Training Group Monoaminergic Neuronal Networks & Disease aims to investigate the function of these transmitter systems and analyse how they are involved in the development of mental and neurodegenerative disease. Among other things, optogenetic probes and genetically encodable sensors will be used to investigate the so-called monoaminergic signalling pathways at the cellular, network and behavioural levels. (University of Bochum, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Rieger)

How did historical and current projections of the future come about in East Asia? On what premises were and are they based? These questions have not yet been examined in the field of East Asian studies from a macro-regional perspective and with a focus on both the modern period and the present. The Research Training Group East Asian Futures: Visions and Realizations on National, Transregional and Global Scales is now dedicated to the period from 1850 to the present, also tapping into the tradition of intellectual history. The subject under examination is future projections of the East Asian states and regions – including China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan – in relation to each other, to Europe and to the world. (University of Bochum, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christine Moll-Murata; also applying: University of Duisburg-Essen)

In recent years, there have been many advances in drug discovery that are now helping accelerate the development of potential drugs, such as the discovery of new drug targets and the emergence of technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence. Against this background, the Research Training Group Tools and Drugs of the Future – Innovative Methods is dedicated to researching new methods in drug research. These include novel PROTACs, macrocyclic drugs, biopolymers as tools, and drug conjugates that have not yet been widely approved for use. (University of Bonn, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christa E. Müller)

The term “good governance” describes general norms such as transparency, participation and accountability of those in power, but also specific ones such as gender equality, fighting corruption and the systematic evaluation of political decisions. The Research Training Group Standards of Governance aims to examine from a global perspective how, why and with what consequences attempts are made to standardise practices and processes of good governance. It will also look into how standards of governance relate to the ideal of democracy. (TU Darmstadt, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jens Hornbostel; also applying: University of Frankfurt/Main)

Planar Carbon Lattices (PCL) are atomically precisely ordered materials whose base is a 1-D or 2-D lattice. Bringing together chemistry, physics and materials science, it is from these materials that the Research Training Group derives its name. PCLs combine the chemical diversity of planar molecular building blocks with the structural diversity of 2-D lattices. In order to make further progress in this field of advanced nanomaterials, the RTG aims to further improve the synthesis of PCLs, analyse their properties and functions, and refine the experimental and theoretical investigation methods involved. (TU Dresden, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Gudermann; also applying: University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

The Research Training Group Fixing Futures: Investigating Technologies of Anticipation in Contemporary Societies is dedicated to looking into how society deals with global problems such as climate change, social inequalities and pandemics and the uncertainties this involves. The participating researchers working in the fields of cultural anthropology, human geography and sociology are seeking to gain a new analytical perspective on how society deals with the future. So-called “technologies of anticipation”, i.e. concrete practices for “fixing the future”, have a key role to play here. The research will involve an examination of economic practices and forms of governance, for example. (University of Frankfurt/Main, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Baumert)

How do crops adapt to changing environmental conditions? And how can the knowledge gained in this area be used to accelerate the breeding progress of the plants? Researchers from Gießen and Queensland, Australia, will now join forces to seek answers to these questions. Using novel methods, data sets and integrative analytical approaches for the data-oriented and biotechnology-oriented improvement of breeding progress, they aim to focus especially on less intensively researched crops: the field bean and sorghum will initially serve as examples. This international RTG is therefore entitled Accelerating Crop Genetic Gain. (University of Giessen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Rod Snowdon; cooperation partner: University of Queensland, Australia)

The function or malfunction of the heart and brain is essentially dependent on two cell types – the cardiomyocytes and the neurons. Both cell types have a number of functional similarities as well as similar pathomechanisms. These commonalities make them a promising subject for research to address complex cross-organ medical issues in heart and brain disease. The Research Training Group Heart and brain diseases: integrative research across organs will therefore explore common physiological and pathological processes in the heart and brain as well as the interdependence between heart and brain disease. The long-term aim is to contribute to the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic concepts. (University of Göttingen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Dörthe M. Katschinski)

In many parts of the world, anti-Semitism, anti-gypsyism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism and other forms of hostility are once again becoming increasingly prevalent. The Research Training Group Ambivalent Enmity: Dynamics of Antagonism in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East therefore aims to add fresh perspectives to the field of enmity research: the ambivalent nature of enmity will be considered as a contradictory pattern of emotions, values and cultural habits that is closely linked to processes of identity formation. The plan is to conduct empirical case studies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for this purpose. (University of Heidelberg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Tanja Penter; also applying: Center for Jewish Studies (HfJS), Heidelberg)

From the sagas of the gods and heroes of antiquity to the current renaissance of the family novel, world literature offers an inexhaustible archive of “family matters”. The era-specific image or self-image of family is often negotiated through cultural lead narratives and iconic images. The Research Training Group Family Matters. Figures of Allegiance and Release now aims to systematically review literary traditions and discourses relating to the family. This will also include cultural-historical narratives that, though scientifically refuted, continue to shape the myth of the bourgeois nuclear family to this day. Work on this myth also has topical relevance in view of the fact that new forms of social parenthood are currently challenging society to redefine what “family” means. (LMU Munich, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Susanne Herold

The ten RTGs which have had 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 the DFG online database GEPRIS):

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: