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Press Release No. 24 | 19 May 2010
DFG Approves Twelve New Collaborative Research Centres

Topics Range from Pneumonia and Stem Cell Self-regeneration to Tunnel Construction to Groups and Geometries

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved the establishment of twelve new Collaborative Research Centres (CRC) beginning 1 July 2010. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee at its spring meeting in Bonn. The new CRCs will initially be funded for four years with a total of 112 million euros (including a 20% programme allowance for indirect project costs). 

Research topics for the newly approved CRCs include innovative programming techniques, materials for bone regeneration and the further development of machine tunnel construction. Further topics range from chronic infections with micro-organisms to sensory processing to the self-regeneration of stem cells. 

Five of the new groups are CRC/Transregios (TR), which are distributed across several research locations including a cross-frontier cooperation with the Netherlands. 

The Grants Committee also agreed to extend eleven CRCs for a second four-year funding period. 

Thus, from July 2010, the DFG will be funding a total of 241 Collaborative Research Centres. 

The new CRCs – listed according to host university – are: 

Pneumonia, an increasingly widespread disease with a high requirement for new types of therapy, is the focus of CRC/TR 844 “Innate Immunity of the Lung: Mechanisms of Pathogen Attack and Host Defence in Pneumonia.” Here, the participating researchers will examine a concept indicating that infection and inflammation of pulmonary tissue follow specific rules. Further knowledge of the molecular interactions of immune response is required for this. New research indicates that inflammations can be regulated and even reduced. Thus a path could be laid for new therapeutic strategies away from current antibiotics. (Host university: Humboldt University of Berlin and the Free University of Berlin as backers of the Charité University Medical Centre Berlin, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Norbert Suttorp; further applicant universities: Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Philipps University of Marburg; participating institutes: Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin) 

The objective of CRC/TR 87 “Pulsed High Power Plasmas for the Synthesis of Nanostructural Functional Layers” is to lay the scientific foundations for innovative high-performance layers in the field of production engineering and functional materials applications. By pooling expertise from the fields of plasma physics and tools technology/surface technology, researchers will examine layer systems with new tribological properties upon metal substrates as well as barrier properties on plastic substrates. Furthermore, they will examine the connections between materials properties and the plasma parameters. In this way, a breakthrough beyond the empirical research to date will be made and a physically and chemically based understanding of the process developed. (Host university: Ruhr University of Bochum, spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Peter Awakowicz; further applicant universities: RWTH Aachen; participating institution: University Paderborn)

The CRC 837 “Interaction Model for Machined Tunnel Construction” starts its research within the scope of the growing road traffic volume that has led to increased requirements for underground tunnel construction. With a view to the safe, economic and environmentally sustainable planning and completion of such tunnel constructions, this CRC will examine forecasting models, methods and concepts. By linking the partial components to be researched, it is intended to make better construction planning possible and to support propulsion control in mechanical tunnel construction. (Host university: Ruhr University of Bochum, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Günther Meschke) 

The precise mechanisms of the sensory perceptions of vertebrates are the object of investigation for CRC 874 “Integration and Representation of Sensory Processes.” With a system-oriented neuro-scientific strategy using six general sensory systems, fundamental aspects of sensory processing will be researched. In so doing, the participating researchers seek to reach a unified understanding of how sensory signals lead to complex behaviour and memory formation. (Hosting university: Ruhr University of Bochum, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan) 

The topic “Invasive Computing” will be examined by CRC/TR 89. This term covers a new paradigm for the design and programming of future parallel computing systems. The fundamental idea is that parallel programmes, in a so-called “invasion” phase, will be enabled to distribute their calculations across a host of currently available resources and, following parallel processing, in a “retreat” phase, to reallocate them. (Hosting university: Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Teich; further applicant universities: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Technical University of Munich) 

A comprehensive materials science concept for a new type of implants is the long-term objective of CRC/TR 79 “Materials for Tissue Regeneration within Systemically Altered Bone.” They seek to facilitate the in-situ forming of long-term stable bone replacement in the case of osteoporosis and malignant disease. Beyond basic research, the planned investigations are of direct medical significance, since bone substance defects are a growing problem in an aging society with an increasing frequency of osteoporosis. (Hosting university: Justus Liebig University of Giessen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Reinhard Schnettler; further applicant universities: Ruprecht-Karl University of Heidelberg, Technical University of Dresden; participating institutes: German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research, Dresden, Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research, Dresden, Max Planck Institute of Solid State Chemical Physics, Dresden) 

The German/Dutch CRC/TR 81 “Chromatin Changes in Differentiation and Malignancies” will examine the understanding of the molecular function of chromatin. The objective is to investigate the role of chromatin changes within normal cell changes and in the development of malignant tumours. The main goal is to analyse the function and mechanisms of chromatin-regulating enzymes during development and the differentiation of cells. (Host university: Justus Liebig University of Giessen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Rainer Renkawitz; further applicant universities: Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Sjaak Philipsen; Philipps University of Marburg; participating institutes: Max-Planck-Institute for Heart and Lung Research - W. G Kerckhoff Institute of Bad Nauheim) 

The dynamics of large macromolecular complexes is a fundamental property that is of central significance for their molecular and cellular function. CRC 860 “Integrative Structural Biology of Dynamic Macromolecular Assemblies” seeks to examine these dynamics with various assemblies, based upon their three-dimensional structures, the changes in their composition and conformation, their interaction with other large biological molecules, as well as the changes regarding spatial and temporal localisation in the cell. (Host university: Georg August University of Göttingen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ralf Ficner; participating institutes: Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry - Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute, Göttingen) 

From the earliest age on, humans are host to many micro-organisms. In many cases, this does not constitute any danger to the host, but it can lead to serious illnesses if it is a case of pathogen viruses or if the host was previously in a weak state. The CRC “Chronic Infections: Microbial Persistence and its Control” will examine how and in which way certain bacteria and viruses establish and maintain their persistence within the host. (Host university: Hanover Medical School, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas F. Schulz; participating institutions: Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research GmbH, Braunschweig, TWINCORE GmbH Centre of Experimental and Clinical Research, Hanover) 

The decoding of molecular control mechanisms of self-regeneration and the differentiation of adult stem cells is the main objective of CRC 873 “Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development und Disease”. In this case, the control mechanisms of self-regeneration in various model systems will be examined. The key research points are the mechanisms of stem cell self-regeneration and cell-to-cell interaction in the stem cell niche. (Host university: Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Anthony D. Ho; participating institution: German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg) 

CRC 877 “Proteolysis as a Regulatory Event in Pathophysiology” will examine the signal paths within cells and between cells that are caused by the irreversible splitting of proteins. The research of these splitting procedures is intended to further clarify how protein modifications are involved in the origin of disease. In the long run, the knowledge gained is to be further developed into new types of therapeutic concepts for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, neuro-degenerative disease and cancer. (Host university: Christian Albrechts University of Kiel, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Rose-John; participating institutions: University of Hamburg, Borstel Research Centre – Leibniz Centre for Medicine and Biosciences, Borstel) 

The group concept is of decisive significance in modern mathematics, since it facilitates transformations and symmetries of mathematical objects. Geometric methods also provide the fundamental basis of mathematical areas, as many important problems become accessible if you can render them into a geometric connection. The central intention of CRC 878 “Groups, Geometry and Actions” is the interplay of these essential concepts to solve current problems in algebra, number theory, topology, differential geometry, stochastic theory, mathematical physics and logic. The added scientific value of this CRC is to achieve the systematic transfer of ideas and techniques across these fields. (Host university: Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Wolfgang Lück)

Further Information

Further subject-specific information is available from the spokespersons of the respective Collaborative Research Centres. 

Contact at the DFG Head Office:

Additional information on the CRCs is available at: