Press Release No. 12 | May 8, 2023

DFG to Fund Eleven New Research Training Groups

Topics ranging from the genesis of the universe to the quality of health research and research into nucleic acids / Approximately €76 million for first funding period

Topics ranging from the genesis of the universe to the quality of health research and research into nucleic acids / Approximately €76 million for first funding period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing eleven new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further bolster the support offered to researchers in early stages of their academic career. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee in Bonn. From autumn 2023 onwards, the new RTGs will receive a total of approximately €76 million over an initial period of five years. This includes a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. The new groups include one International Research Training Group (IRTG) with partners in Romania.

In addition to the eleven newly established groups, the Grants Committee approved an additional funding period for another nine RTGs. Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers an opportunity to complete their doctorates by following a structured research and qualification programme at a high level of subject-specific expertise. The DFG is currently providing funding to a total of 220 RTGs, including 31 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 Research Training Group Coping with Uncertainty in Dynamic Economies aims to bring together two central features of current and future economies: uncertainty and dynamics. Megatrends such as climate change, energy crisis, migration, pandemics and technological development make reliable estimates of probabilities very difficult. By explicitly taking these uncertainties into account – as distinct from statistical risk – the group will seek to advance economic science, which is working here on the borderline of mathematics. (University of Bielefeld, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Frank Riedel)

Under the title Nuclear Photonics, this International Research Training Group aims to investigate how laser beams interact with matter. The researchers in Darmstadt and Bucharest hope to gain insights into the structure of atomic nuclei, their excitations and decay processes, and answer fundamental questions about the formation of elements in astrophysical objects and even the history of the universe. Moreover, the technologies developed in the course of the work could be used in laser-driven nuclear fusion, for example. (TU Darmstadt, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Norbert Andreas Pietralla; cooperation partner: Universitatea POLITEHNICA din București, Romania)

Mechanical metamaterials have internal geometric structures that result in unique properties which are quite distinct from the associated base material. The Research Training Group D⊃3; – Data-driven design of resilient metamaterials aims to use a novel data-driven and multiscale design approach to help exploit the potential of this class of materials more fully and design both sustainable and highly resilient materials. To this end, the failure response of the materials will first be analysed and the basic materials optimised in terms of sustainability based on additional functionalisation. Additive manufac-turing technologies will then be used to create the material structures. (TU Dresden, spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Markus Kästner)

The RTG Managerial and economic dimensions of health care quality will conduct research in the field of health economics. It aims to systematically analyse the influence of stakeholder interaction in health care on the quality of care. In this connection, the levels of those who pay into the system, those who provide the services and that of patients will be examined more closely, for example in the context of cooperation between service providers and in response to state regulation. In addition, the aim is to clarify how quality can be defined, measured and managed in health research. (Universität Hamburg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Tom Stargardt)

The properties of materials with mixed ion-electron transport are largely determined by the simultaneous transport and interaction of ions and electrical charge carriers. They have recently been “rediscovered”, optimised and used in various fields such as bioelectronics, optoelectronics and energy storage. This is where the Research Training Group Mixed Ionic-Electronic Transport: From Funda-mentals to Applications takes its starting point, as it aims to investigate the fundamental processes involved in mixed ion-electron transport in various organic, hybrid and nanomaterials. (Heidelberg University, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jana Zaumseil; also applying: University of Stuttgart)

The coronavirus pandemic was not the only event that has demonstrated the impact severe diseases caused by viral pathogens can have on individuals and society . For this reason, the Research Training Group VISualization and structure in virus infectION (VISION) will seek to investigate how viral proteins and protein complexes perform their functions within the host cell, using modern structural analysis technologies to do so. In this way, new insights are to be gained into the interaction of viruses with host cells and the immune system as well looking at how antiviral compounds take effect. (Universität zu Lübeck, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Krey; also applying: Universität Hamburg)

Under the title R-loop Regulation in Robustness and Resilience, the Research Training Group aims to investigate three-stranded nucleic acid structures consisting of an RNA-DNA hybrid and a shifted DNA strand: so-called R-loops. These were initially considered insignificant by-products in the formation of DNA. However, recent research results indicate that they are dynamically regulated and fulfil important physiological functions, including DNA repair. For this reason, the RTG will seek to explore the functionality and regulation of R-loops with regard to numerous molecular processes. (University Mainz, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Brian Luke)

Nucleotides are the chemical building blocks that make up nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA. As such, they might be called the letters in the “book of life”. But how they are chemically modified and metabolised, and what biological functions these modified nucleotides have, is still poorly understood and is to be investigated in microbes by way of an example by the Research Training Group Nucleotide Metabolism in Microbes. The RTG will analyse the nucleotides in different species of microbes in order to establish principles that are valid both for multiple species and species-specific adaptations in nucleotide-related metabolic pathways. (University of Marburg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Peter Graumann)

Staging of religious atmosphere in ancient cultures is the subject of the Research Training Group of the same name. How is “divineness” made tangible? How are authority and credibility generated? How is identity strengthened within a religious group? And how are hierarchies and power structures communicated? This RTG will seek to find answers to these questions by combining investigations in the fields of cultural, linguistic and literary studies, natural science, religious studies, theology, history, legal history and archaeology. (University of Marburg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Nils Heeßel)

Nanobased materials can be used for biochemical and biophysical investigations. Based on targeted synthesis and surface functionalisation, their properties allow detailed investigation of biological systems at the molecular level, especially using optical, electrical and structural biological approaches. The Research Training Group nanomaterials@biomembranes: Rationally designed surface architectures for nanoscale interrogation and manipulation of biomolecules at membranes is now aiming to produce nanomaterials linked to biomembranes, enabling novel analytical methods for the study of membranes and membrane proteins. (Osnabrück University, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jacob Piehler)

In recent years, deep neural models have revolutionised computer science and set new standards for what is possible in artificial intelligence. These contrast with explicit models that human experts are able to understand and specify. The aim of neuroexplicit models – a combination of neural and explicit components – is to make the most of the advantages of both classes of models. The Research Training Group Neuroexplicit models of language, vision, and action will now seek to elaborate the basic principles of the design of effective neuroexplicit models, thereby enabling rapid development of efficient and accurate neuroexplicit models. (Saarland University, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Alexander Koller)

The nine 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's 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: