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Press Release No. 70 | 3 December 2010
DFG Establishes Four New Research Units

Topics range from acute kidney injury to little researched learning processes

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing four new Research Units. The decision was made by the DFG Senate at its December session in Bonn. The establishment of the Research Units will enable researchers to explore prevailing topical questions and generate new approaches in their respective fields.

Like all DFG-funded Research Units, these new location-independent centers will operate interdisciplinarily. Their research will focus on acute kidney injury, little understood learning processes, titanium and titanium alloys, and micro-organisms separating organic compounds.

The new Research Units will receive approximately €9.3 million in their first three-year funding period. This will bring the total number of Research Units funded by the DFG to 217.

The new Research Units (listed in alphabetical order of coordinating university):

The Research Unit "Hemodynamic Mechanisms of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)" will bring together experts in the fields of nephrology and physiology to study the pathophysiology of acute kidney injuries. Researchers at the Unit will apply an inter-methodological and translational approach to ascertain the molecular and cellular processes that play a role in the development of acute kidney injury, and seek to identify specific markers to facilitate early recognition. This will lead to the development of new strategies in the treatment and prevention of acute kidney injuries.
(Coordinator: Professor Dr. Pontus Börje Persson, Charité - University Medical Centre Berlin)

As humans we are not only capable of acquiring and retaining new knowledge, we are also able to recognise when our knowledge has become oosolete or is no longer applicable. It is through this process, known as extinction learning, that we learn to disregard obsolete knowledge in determining our actions. This obsolete knowledge itself does not simply disappear, however, and it can even be reactivated. The new Research Unit "Extinction Learning: Behavioural, Neural and Clinical" will seek to analyse the mechanisms underlying the little understood phenomenon of extinction learning on several different levels. To this end, learning processes in several different species including rodents and humans will be experimentally analysed. This Research Unit will focus on the role of the learning context and offer insights into the common and distinct extinction mechanisms of different systems and organisms.
(Coordinator: Professor Dr. Onur Güntürkün, Ruhr University of Bochum)

Developing and implementing concepts for a simplified production of titanium – this is the aim of the Research Unit "Enhanced Techniques for the Production of Titanium and Titanium Alloys". The high strength and low density of titanium and titanium alloys make them ideal construction materials, but the energy requirement for and high cost of their conventional extraction and processing methods have limited their application to only a few fields. This Research Unit's vision: the introduction of titanium and titanium alloys as mass production materials. In order to save expense and improve titanium’s energy balance, the conditioning, reduction and refining  processes as well as the application of thermochemical modelling are to be examined.
(Coordinator: Professor Dr.-Ing. Eberhard Gock, Technical University of Clausthal)

The microbiological Research Unit "Anaerobic Biological Dehalogenation: Organisms, Biochemistry, and (Eco-)Physiology" has set its sights on analysing how micro-organisms separate halogen substituents, (for instance chlorine), from organic compounds. Their goal is a better understanding of the oxygen-free variant of this process known as anaerobic dehalogenation. Recent developments in analytical methodology and the availability of genomic data on various dehalogenating bacteria will enable the researchers to study this phenomenon in detail. Not least, this research is also relevant from an environmental point of view: Many toxic substances consist of organic halogenated compounds, and this Research Unit's work on the biochemical processes of these micro-organisms will enhance our understanding of pollutant degradation and deliver environmentally relevant findings.
(Coordinator: Professor Dr. Gabriele Diekert, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena)

Further Information

More information on Research Units is available at:

Further information is available from the coordinators of the individual Research Units.