Press Release No. 26 | 1 July 2009
Professor Matthias Kleiner Re-elected as President of the DFG
Professor of Engineering Confirmed for a Further Three Years in Office by the General Assembly
Matthias Kleiner will remain at the helm of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) for a further three years. The 54-year-old professor of forming technology and lightweight construction was re-elected by the DFG's General Assembly in Leipzig on 1 July 2009. Professor Kleiner has been the President of Germany's largest research funding organisation since 2007 and is the first engineer to have held this office. His second term will commence on 1 January 2010.
Professor Kleiner's current presidency has been characterised by the Excellence Initiative. It was under his chairmanship that the Joint Commission of the DFG and the German Science Council and the Excellence Initiative Grants Committee passed the decisions for the second round of the initiative in 2007. Kleiner campaigned for the continuation and increase in the amount of funding for the programme from an early stage. With the resolution in favour of its continuation and expansion having now been passed by the heads of the federal and state governments in early June of this year, the implementation of the new phase of the Excellence Initiative is now set to be a key focus of his second term in office.
In addition, Kleiner also promoted the further development and increased flexibility of the DFG's programme portfolio and continued advancement opportunities for young researchers. Kleiner is also a strong advocate of equal opportunities in research, which were given a significant boost by the "Research-oriented Equal Opportunities Standards" passed at the 2008 DFG General Assembly in Berlin. The DFG's international activities and its involvement in the realisation of the European Research Area have also been intensified during his first term of office. Another important matter to Kleiner was the DFG's role, as a strong, task-oriented representative of the interests of the scientific community, in giving policy advice.
A predominant topic in recent months has been the contribution science can make to overcoming the global economic crisis. On this point, Kleiner appealed urgently and successfully to German politicians and business leaders to increase their investment in science and research especially now, in times of crisis, as this is the best basis for innovation as well as for knowledge, growth and prosperity. Professor Kleiner sees the trust they place in science as an obligation. He aims to fulfil this obligation during his second term of office, for example by placing greater emphasis on knowledge transfer from basic research to application. His slogan for this is "science supports society".
Matthias Kleiner was born in Recklinghausen on 24 May 1955. He is married to Christine Burkhardt-Kleiner, who is a minister, and they have three children. After studying mechanical engineering at the University of Dortmund, Kleiner obtained his doctorate in engineering in 1987 and then proceeded to obtain his habilitation on the subject of "Forming Technology" in 1991. From 1994 onwards, he was involved in establishing the Chair of Construction and Manufacturing at the newly founded Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) in Cottbus, where he also served as Vice Chancellor from 1995 until 1996. In 1998 he assumed the Chair of Forming Technology at the University of Dortmund, where he became Head of the Institute of Forming Technology and Lightweight Construction (IUL) in 2004. He is on leave from this post for the duration of his presidency of the DFG.
In 1997, Matthias Kleiner was awarded the DFG's Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for his research work. As an internationally renowned researcher, he was actively involved in a number of research networks funded by the DFG, including acting as the coordinator of the Collaborative Research Centre "Flexible Manufacture of Lightweight Frame Structures" and as the coordinator of the Priority Programme "Workmedia Based Sheet Metal Forming". He is also a member of several German and international academies and scientific institutions, including the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Academia Europaea, acatech - the German Academy of Science and Engineering - and the International Academy for Production Engineering.
In 2002, Kleiner was elected as a member of the DFG Senate, the Joint Committee and the Grants Committee on General Research Support, and a year later he was also elected to the Senate Committee on Strategic Planning. From 2005 onward he was the vice president of the DFG, before being elected to succeed the biochemist Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker by the General Assembly in Munich at the end of May 2006.
Print-quality photographs of the President of the DFG are available for download at:
and a detailed curriculum vitae can be found at: