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Press Release No. 20 | 20 May 2009
DFG Establishes Nine New Collaborative Research Centres

Topics Range from Cancer Research to Population Migration to Statistical Models

Effective 1 July 2009, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will establish nine new Collaborative Research Centres. This decision has just been made by the responsible Grants Committee of the DFG at its spring session in Bonn. The new centres will initially be funded for four years with a total of 73.6 million euros. In addition to this, the DFG will also provide 20 percent overhead funding for each centre for indirect costs incurred by the research projects.

Research topics of the newly approved Collaborative Research Centres (Sonderforschungsbereiche, SFB) include the development of more-effective cancer treatments through better imaging processes, the spread of modern man from Africa to Western Eurasia and the research of new statistical models that can better model, predict and control complex technical processes. Other topics include studies of transcendence and public spirit in society and more-precise research of the microenvironment of tumours. Two of the nine new centres are Transregional Collaborative Research Centres, which are distributed over multiple research locations.

In addition to these new institutions, the Grants Committee also agreed to extend 31 existing centres for an additional funding period. As of July 2009, the DFG will thereby fund a total of 243 Collaborative Research Centres.

The new Collaborative Research Centres:

The objective of SFB 840, "From Particulate Nanosystems to Mesotechnology", is to improve methods in mesotechnology, the link between the macroscopic world and nanotechnology. To accomplish this, researchers want to create reliably and easily reproducible nanostructures in an application-oriented manner, thereby establishing innovative, functional mesoscopic systems. By cleverly combining macromolecular materials with inorganic function units, new systems are to be created that may be useful in technological applications such as in catalysts and photovoltaic cells, as switchable optical band-gap materials or as mechanically stable lightweight construction materials. (Host university: University of Bayreuth; spokesperson: Professor Matthias Ballauff)

How can complex processes in economics and technology be statistically modelled, predicted and controlled in a manner that is appropriate and that addresses relevant issues? This topic will be investigated by SFB 823, "Statistics of Nonlinear Dynamic Processes". The research will focus on time-variable dynamic processes in economics and the engineering sciences. During the project the researchers will be employing time scales of various resolution, from the millisecond scale in sheet metal forming to the minute cycle required in audio signal processing, as well as the time horizon of multiple years in the dynamic modelling of economic market structures. For the first time, dynamic, statistical models are to be expanded with non-stationary dynamics. Using innovative approaches, the centre wants to thereby develop abstract methods as well as solutions for practical application problems.
(Host university: Technical University of Dortmund; spokesperson: Professor Walter Krämer; participating institutions: Ruhr University of Bochum and the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Essen (RWI Essen); Université Libre de Brussels, Belgium; European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics, Belgium)

Against the backdrop of current domestic and foreign-policy debates, the humanities and the social and cultural sciences have, in recent years, more strongly addressed the topic of religion. The newly established SFB 804, "Transcendence and Public Spirit", will consider the term "transcendence" beyond its religious meaning. In their work, the researchers want to conceptually unite the analytic categories of "transcendence" and "public spirit" in discourse and in practice in new ways and examine their social perception and implications. In this way, they will attempt to gain new perspectives for clarifying basic questions for the requirements, conditions and resources for the constitution and stability of social and political order. (Host university: Technical University of Dresden; spokesperson: Professor Hans Vorländer; participating institutions: Università di Torino, Italy; Università degli Studi della Basilicata, Italy; University of Zürich, Switzerland)

There is still no cure for HIV or for the hepatitis B and C viruses. A better understanding of the transition from acute infection to chronic illness of these three viral diseases is the focus of the internationally assembled Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 60, "Mutual Interaction of Viruses with Cells of the Immune System: From Fundamental Research to Immunotherapy and Vaccination". Working together, German and Chinese researchers will study the interaction of persistent viruses and the body's own cells in both congenital and adoptive immune reactions. The objective is to research how viruses succeed in avoiding the defence mechanisms of the body. In this way, they want to develop new virus-specific immune therapies and vaccinations that reduce the persistence of viruses. (Host university: University of Duisburg-Essen; spokesperson: Professor Michael Roggendorf; participating institutions: Ruhr University of Bochum as well as the Chinese Academy of Science, China; Huazhong Agricultural University, China; Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China; Wuhan University, China; Fudan University, China)

Collaborative Research Centre 806, "Our Way to Europe: Culture-Environment Interaction and Human Mobility in the Late Quaternary", will examine the mobility of populations in the last 190,000 years. The focus of the research is the spread of modern man from Africa to Western Eurasia and, in particular, Europe. Population-dynamic migration processes, with their exchange of ideas, technology and cultural behaviour, are an important prerequisite for significant developments. The objective is to employ geoscientific and archaeological methods to study how human behaviour, the climate and the environment have influenced important population movements. Special attention is to be given to the impacts that these factors have had on the actions and reactions of populations, such as emigration, immigration and adaptation to a new cultural environment. (Host university: University of Cologne; spokesperson: Professor Jürgen Richter; participating institutions: Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms University, Bonn; RWTH Aachen (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, RWTH); Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg; University of Duisburg-Essen and the Landschaftsverband Rheinland (Rhineland Regional Council); Rheinisches Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege, Bonn (Rhineland Office for the Preservation of Archaeological Sites); Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann)

In contrast to the extensive knowledge on the genetic processes that lead to the immortality and the modification of cancer cells, there is still much to be learned on the exact molecular processes that cause tumour microenvironments to form. Collaborative Research Centre 832, "Molecular Basis and the Modulation of the Cellular Interactions in the Tumour Microenvironment", therefore seeks to determine the key mechanisms that cause and affect the interaction between cancer cells and their microenvironment on a molecular level. At the forefront will be the research of molecular modifications in the architecture, differentiation and mobility of cells in tumour tissue, as well as the immunological composition of the environment of a clinically visible tumour. In addition to these medically important research questions, the long-term objective of the centre is the clarification of new target structures suitable for the development of new therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. (Host university: University of Cologne; spokesperson: Professor Michael Hallek; participating institutions: Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms University, Bonn, and the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research, Cologne)

Improving the healing process and long-term stability of implants and transplants is the objective of Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 67, "Functional Biomaterials for Controlling Healing Processes in Bone and Skin-From Material Science to Clinical Application". Working on the basis of artificial, extracellular matrices, researchers will aim to develop innovative, functional biomaterials with specifically adjustable characteristics. This is intended to facilitate rapid healing, individually for applications in skin and bones and systematically adapted to the situations of healthy patients and patients suffering from a variety of diseases. In doing so, the developed biomaterials should be able to intervene in the healing process in a self-organising manner. (Host university: University of Leipzig; spokesperson: Professor Jan Christoph Simon; participating institutions: Technical University of Dresden as well as the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig; INNOVENT Technologieentwicklung, Jena; Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research, Dresden)

The goal of SFB 824, "Imaging for the Selection, Monitoring and Individualisation of Cancer Therapy", is to improve the success of cancer therapies through imaging. Researchers want to develop new methods of molecular imaging to better predict the success of a given therapy and to objectively and quantitatively measure the results of a therapy. Through the research, it should be possible not only to detect tumour tissue at an early stage, but also to objectively measure the effects of a therapy through the use of biological signals. In addition to metabolic processes in tumour tissue, other cytobiological processes, such as proliferation, vascularisation and substrate transport, will also be addressed. Furthermore, the representation of cytobiological signals will be used for assessing the aggressiveness of a tumour. Tracer and optical methods will then aid in transferring the molecular imaging from animal experiments to the clinical situation. (Host university: Technical University of Munich; spokesperson: Professor Markus Schwaiger; participating institutions: Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich as well as the Helmholtz Zentrum München/Oberschleißheim; German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), Neuherberg)

How does linguistical meaning form? Collaborative Research Centre 833, "Emergence of Meaning: The Dynamics and Adaptivity of Linguistic Structures" will examine this question. Researchers of the linguistical and cognitive sciences want to expand the thesis that the meaning of linguistical expressions is always time-dependent by researching an innovative aspect. Up to now, little attention has been given to the time-specific aspect in the composition of complex meaning. Thus, the objective is to extend the emergence of meaning in complex linguistic structures on the basis of word meaning, syntactical structure and context with a temporal dimension. The linguistic centre hopes to make it possible to measure meaning as it is created. (Host university: Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen; spokesperson: Professor Sigrid Beck)

Further Information

Further information is available from the spokespersons of the Collaborative Research Centres.

Contact at the DFG Head Office:

  • Dr. Klaus Wehrberger,
    Head of the Research Centres Division,
    Tel. +49 228 885-2355,

Further information on Collaborative Research Centres is available at: