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Press Release No. 33 | 13 July 2009
From Psychology to Virus Research

DFG To Support Six New Research Units

During its summer session, the Joint Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved funding for six new Research Units. Within these Research Units, researchers from different disciplines work together on a particular scientific topic. Funding for Research Units provides the personnel and equipment required for medium-term (usually six years) cooperation and contributes to the establishment of new research direc-tions.

The six new Research Units will undertake research in the humanities and social sciences as well as the life sciences. The spectrum of topics studied ranges from using psychology to improve our perception of others to research into algae and viruses. Over the next three years, the Research Units will receive around 14.7 million euros. The DFG currently funds a total of 202 Research Units.

The new Research Units in detail:

Humanities and Social Sciences

The Research Unit on "Violent Societies" at the University of Gießen investigates the rules gov-erning the threat of violence and its perpetration by particular groups within a society. This type of socially relevant violence will be examined using numerous historical examples from the time of the late Roman Empire to the modern era. (University of Gießen; Spokesperson: Prof. Win-fried Speitkamp)

Facial and voice recognition is the focus of the "Person Perception" Research Unit. In order to research our perceptions of other people more intensively, researchers in Jena aim to link differ-ent psychological perspectives by combining neuronal mechanisms with models from cognitive and social psychology. (University of Jena; Spokesperson: Prof. Stefan R. Schweinberger)

What role do key epistemological terms such as "causality" and "laws" play in scientific disci-plines? The Research Unit on "Explanations, Causality, Laws and Dispositions at the Intersection of Science and Metaphysics" at the University of Münster is breaking new ground with this topic. While, in analytical philosophy, the meaning of such terms has hitherto been investigated primarily with regard to physics, the researchers will now examine it for disciplines which have, until now, been comparatively neglected. These disciplines include medicine and biology as well as history and jurisprudence. (University of Münster; Spokesperson: Prof. Andreas Hüttemann)

Life Sciences

At the universities of Heidelberg and Freiburg, the "Mechanisms of Persistence of Hepatotropic Viruses" Research Unit is working on improving our understanding of the molecular mecha-nisms that lead to the lifelong persistence of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C and their combination in sufferers. The scientists will perform an interdisciplinary investigation of this medically rele-vant topic in areas where clinical and preclinical research overlap. (University of Heidelberg; Spokesperson: Prof. Ralf Bartenschlager)

The aim of the Research Unit on "Specific Light Driven Reactions in Unicellular Model Algae" is to explain the regulation of different membrane proteins in the photosynthetic membranes of single-celled algae. The investigations, which are coordinated in Jena, will take place at multiple universities and focus on the characterisation of the proteins involved in light-driven processes. The Unit will examine both proteins that play a part in light perception and components of the light signal transmission cascade. At the same time, it will also investigate a relatively little-known subject: light regulation in photosynthetic diatoms, which is responsible for up to 20 percent of the Earth's primary production. (University of Jena; Spokesperson: Prof. Maria Mit-tag)

The comprehensive examination of photorespiration (the light-dependent release of carbon di-oxide during photosynthesis) is the objective of the Research Unit on "Photorespiration: Origins and Metabolic Integration in Interacting Compartments" coordinated by the University of Rostock. The scientists involved aim to investigate this biosphere-influencing element of plant metabolism using different model organisms ranging from cyanobacteria to higher plants. (Uni-versity of Rostock; Spokesperson: Prof. Hermann Bauwe)

Further Information

Additional information on Research Units is available at: