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Press Release No. 17 | 18 May 2018
DFG to Fund 14 New Collaborative Research Centres

Topics range from the emergence of life and nucleic acid immunity to hearing acoustics / €164 million in funding for initial four-year period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved the establishment of 14 new Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) to further support top-level research at German universities. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee during its spring session in Bonn. The new centres will receive a total of approximately €164 million in funding for an initial four-year period starting on 1 July 2018. This includes a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. Six of the new centres are CRC/Transregios, spread across multiple applicant universities. In addition to the 14 new centres, the Grants Committee also approved the extension of 21 existing centres for an additional funding period. As of July 2018, the DFG will fund a total of 274 Collaborative Research Centres, covering a wide spectrum with regard to their topics and research questions as well as their structure and funding requirements.

Collaborative Research Centres enable researchers to pursue innovative, complex and long-term research projects, thereby supporting the further development of core areas and structures at the applicant universities. Today’s decision brings the number of Collaborative Research Centres funded through the programme since its inception in 1968 to over 1,000, a milestone that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the programme this year.

The 14 new Collaborative Research Centres in detail
(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of additional applicant universities):

All body tissue reacts to inflammation, injury or invasion by tumours by a change in the so-called local extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is therefore well suited to in vivo imaging approaches and hence to the imaging-based detection and characterisation of diseases, evaluation of their progression and monitoring of therapy. The objective of the CRC “In vivo Visualization of Extracellular Matrix Pathology ‘Matrix in Vision’” is to characterise changes in the extracellular matrix in diseased tissue with the aid of imaging techniques in order to afford new options for early diagnosis and for monitoring the success of therapy. (Charité Berlin – FU Berlin and HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Bernd Hamm)

This CRC in the field of memory research will investigate “Mechanisms and Disturbances in Memory Consolidation: From Synapses to Systems”. The CRC aims to develop a comprehensive theory of memory consolidation by observing different regions of the brain and also comparing different species – fruit flies, zebra finches, rodents and humans. (HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Matthew E. Larkum)

The CRC/Transregio “Nucleic Acid Immunity” will investigate the molecular foundations of the nucleic acid immune system in order to improve understanding of its mechanisms. The goal is to contribute to more accurate definitions of disease processes in chronic viral infections, inflammatory changes and autoimmunity. (University of Bonn, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Gunther Hartmann; Additional applicant universities: TU Dresden, LMU Munich)

This CRC/Transregio in the field of catalysis research will explore “Heterogeneous Oxidation Catalysis in the Liquid Phase – Mechanisms and Materials in Thermal, Electro-, and Photocatalysis”. The research focuses on fundamental catalytic mechanisms, which will be investigated using modern experimental, theoretical and computer-assisted techniques. (University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Malte Behrens; Additional applicant university: University of Bochum)

The CRC/Transregio “Immune-Epithelial Communication in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases” aims to achieve a better understanding of the interaction between the intestinal barrier and mucosal immune cells in the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel diseases and thus to contribute to the development of new therapeutic strategies. (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Christoph Becker; Additional applicant universities: Charité Berlin – FU Berlin and HU Berlin)

Adenine nucleotides are molecules spread throughout the body that regulate fundamental cellular processes. The objective of the CRC “Adenine Nucleotides in Immunity and Inflammation” is to achieve a deeper understanding of the regulatory functions of these molecules, their formation and their metabolism in the context of inflammatory diseases. (University of Hamburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Andreas H. Guse)

The goal of the CRC/Transregio “Emergence of Life: Exploring Mechanisms with Cross-Disciplinary Experiments” is to test, in the laboratory, various hypotheses about the emergence of life. This will be made possible through close collaboration between researchers from the fields of astronomy, biology, chemistry, the geosciences and physics. (LMU Munich, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dieter Braun; Additional applicant university: TU Munich)

The CRC “Chemical Biology of Epigenetic Modifications” will investigate chemical modifications of nucleic acids and proteins and also the development of new molecules. By analysing the biological foundations for the regulation of modification processes, the CRC aims to contribute to an improved understanding of these processes. (LMU Munich, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Thomas Carell)

The CRC “Aberrant Immune Signals in Cancer” will analyse signals in the immune system that favour the development of cancer or suppress natural antitumour immune responses. The goal is to thereby obtain new information for the molecular understanding of pathogenic immune signals in tumours and identify new strategies for their targeted manipulation for cancer therapy. (TU Munich, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Ruland)

The CRC “Modelling and Targeting Pancreatic Cancer” will investigate the biological characteristics of this highly aggressive and largely therapy-resistant carcinoma. The researchers believe that only a comprehensive mechanistic understanding of the pancreatic carcinoma with its unique characteristics will lead to a long-term improvement in the prognosis for patients affected. (TU Munich, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Roland M. Schmid)

The overall objective of the CRC “Hearing Acoustics: Perceptual Principles, Algorithms and Applications (HAPPAA)” is improved hearing in complex acoustic surroundings using electro-acoustic hearing aids. To this end, human hearing will be investigated, algorithms will be developed and the results will be tested for application in hearing devices and consumer electronics. (University of Oldenburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Volker Hohmann)

The CRC “Molecular Heterogeneous Catalysis in Confined Geometries” will investigate catalytic reactions in the pores of various carrier media. The aim is to develop new heterogeneous metal-organic catalyst systems with higher selectivity, and thus contribute to more efficient use of raw materials, among other goals. (University of Stuttgart, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Michael R. Buchmeiser)

Inspired by the structural and functional principles of photosynthesis in green plants, the chemical sciences CRC/Transregio “Light-Driven Molecular Catalysts in Hierarchically Structured Materials - Synthesis and Mechanistic Studies” will address fundamental challenges in the development of photocatalytically active materials for the use of solar energy. (University of Ulm, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Sven Rau; Additional applicant university: University of Jena)

Recent studies have shown that thrombocytes, also called platelets, have largely undescribed functions that go far beyond known processes such as clotting of the blood. The CRC/Transregio “Platelets – Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Functions in Health and Disease” will analyse the underlying molecular mechanisms of these various, currently poorly understood processes in the body. (University of Würzburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Berhard Nieswandt; Additional applicant university: University of Tübingen

The 21 Collaborative Research Centres extended for a further funding period
(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of additional applicant universities and with reference to project descriptions in the DFG’s GEPRIS online database on currently funded projects):

Further Information

Media contact:

Further information will also be provided by the spokespersons of the Collaborative Research Centres.

Contact at the DFG Head Office:

More details about the funding programme and the funded Collaborative Research Centres are available at: