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Press Release No. 22 | 5 May 2010
DFG Establishes 13 New Priority Programmes

Topics Range from International Financial Markets to Self-healing Materials to the Interstellar Medium / Networked Basic Research and High Application

How rational are human thoughts and actions and what can the explanatory approaches of philosophy and psychology – considered separately up to now – together contribute towards understanding them? Why can parasites survive in the host cells of an organism that are actually there to destroy them? What does the inside of an “interstellar medium” look like and what effect do the physical processes there have upon the formation of stars and planets and the development of galaxies? How can building structures made from modern high-performance concrete be designed and constructed more easily? Can the principle of “self-healing” known in nature be transferred to all materials of all types, and where can these “self-healing materials” be used? How can computers learn autonomously and eventually become independent of human experts who previously decided upon the data, algorithms, and parameters and made their conclusions? These are some of the questions arising from the basic research to be investigated over the next years within the scope of the new Priority Programmes established by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). 

During its spring meeting in Bonn, the DFG Senate decided to establish 13 new Priority Programmes. They will commence in early 2011 and are intended to network current scientific know-how in and beyond Germany in particularly topical or emerging research areas. 

The new Priority Programmes cover the entire topical spectrum from the humanities and social sciences through life sciences to engineering. The topics thus range from events on international financial markets to be examined within the light of the global recession and combining macroeconomics, monetary policies and financial market research, to the Brassicaceae plant family, whose molecular and evolutionary mechanisms enabling these Cruciferae plants to survive only at certain locations are the subject of research. Other programmes, for example, will examine the transport of substances in porous media or the transfer of heat by means of spin degrees of freedom and have a defined area of application beyond the clarification of fundamental scientific questions. Planned research activities into “resource-efficient construction elements” in mechanical and automotive engineering – whereby both wear and tear as well as energy consumption are reduced – also possess high innovative potential. 

The programmes are highly interdisciplinary and join biology, chemistry, physics and material sciences, for instance in order to transfer bionic concepts to the synthesis of non-natural solid states, thus achieving targeted anorganic functional materials. The use of the latest research methods and devices – such as those from plant research, astrophysics or informatics – is a further characteristic of the groups that have now been set up. What all have in common is the integration and support of new scientific talent, a substantial prerequisite for the establishment of a new Priority Programme. 

The 13 new Priority Programmes were selected from among a total of 64 concepts that had been submitted. Over the coming months, each programme will be individually announced and the funding proposals will be subjected to a rigorous scientific review process to determine their scientific quality and their contribution to the respective general topic. For twelve of the new programmes, funding will initially be provided for three years; one Priority Programme will initially be funded for two years. For all 13 of the new Priority Programmes, a total of 25 million euros is available in the first funding year and a total of 73 million euros during the initial funding period. 

The DFG Priority Programmes generally run for six years. With the 13 institutions that have been approved, the DFG will be funding a total of 96 Priority Programmes from 2011. 

The new Priority Programmes (arranged according to scientific areas) and their coordinators are: 

Humanities and social sciences 

New Frameworks of Rationality
Coordinator: Prof. Markus Knauff, University of Gießen 

Financial Market Imperfections and Macroeconomic Performance
Coordinator: Prof. Tom Krebs, University of Mannheim 

Life sciences 

Evolutionary Plant Solutions to Ecological Challenges: Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Adaptive Traits in the Brassicaceae s.l. (Adaptomics)
Coordinator: Dr. Ute Krämer, University of Bochum 

Zellkompartimente als Orte der Pathogen-Wirt-Interaktion
(Cell Compartments as the Site of Interaction between Pathogens and Hosts)
Coordinator: Prof. Albert Haas, University of Bonn

Flowering Time Control: From Natural Variation to Crop Improvement
Coordinator: Prof. Christian Jung, University of Kiel 

Natural sciences

Physics of the Interstellar Medium
Coordinator: Prof. Andreas Burkert, TU Munich

Spin Caloric Transport (SpinCaT)
Coordinator: Prof. Christian Back, University of Regensburg

Engineering sciences

Autonomes Lernen (Autonomous learning)
Coordinator: Dr. Marc Toussaint, TU Berlin

Leicht Bauen mit Beton
Simple Construction with Concrete)
Coordinator: Prof. Manfred Curbach, TU Dresden 

Poröse Medien mit definierter Porenstruktur in der Verfahrenstechnik – Modellierung, Anwendungen, Synthese
(Porous Media with Defined Pore Structure in Process Technology – Modelling, Applications, Synthesis)
Coordinator: Prof. Frerich Keil, TU Hamburg-Harburg

Design and Generic Principles of Self-Healing Materials
Coordinator: Prof. Ulrich Schubert, University of Jena 

Ressourceneffiziente Konstruktionselemente
Resource-efficient Construction Elements)
Coordinator: Prof. Bernd-Robert Höhn, TU Munich

Generation of Multifunctional Inorganic Materials by Molecular Bionics
Coordinator: Prof. Joachim Bill, University of Stuttgart

Further Information

Detailed information about the DFG Priority Programmes, including a list of the programmes being funded, can be found at:

Further information about the Priority Programmes that have now been approved can be obtained from the respective coordinators.