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Press Release No. 51 | 12 November 2018
DFG to Fund 15 New Research Training Groups

Topics range from 3D tissue constructs and bioactive peptides to forms of the aesthetic €71 million for an initial four and a half years

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 15 new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further support early career researchers. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee during its autumn session in Bonn. The new RTGs will receive a total of approximately €71 million for an initial period of four and a half years, starting from April 2019. This includes a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. Two of the new collaborations are International Research Training Groups (IRTG) with partners in Mexico and the United States.

In addition to the 15 new projects, the Grants Committee also approved the extension of ten RTGs for an additional funding period. The collaborations cover a broad spectrum with regard to their topics and research questions as well as their set-up and funding requirements.

Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers the opportunity to complete their theses in a structured research and qualification programme at a high academic level. The DFG currently funds 217 RTGs, 38 of which are IRTGs.

The 15 new Research Training Groups

(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of spokespersons and cooperation partners)

The RTG “Mechanobiology in Epithelial 3D Tissue Constructs” aims to investigate the mechanisms that influence the properties and formation of tissues. In doing so, the cell biologists, biophysicists and bioengineers intend to concentrate on lining or covering tissue, also known as the epithelia. This basic research is aimed at contributing to the development of complex tissue constructs that could take the place of animal experimentation, for example in pharmaceutical studies. (RWTH Aachen University, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Rudolf Leube)

Computer-aided methods are becoming increasingly important in cancer research since ever larger data sets need to be converted into clinical knowledge. The RTG “Computational Methods for Oncology: Towards Personalized Therapies in Cancer” aims to derive individualised therapies from molecular patterns with computer-aided processes. The collaboration will work at the interface between bioinformatics, molecular biology and clinical oncology. (Charité Berlin – FU Berlin and HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Nils Blüthgen)

The IRTG “Temporalities of Future in Latin America: Dynamics of Aspiration and Anticipation” aims to research social practices that are designed to change social conditions. The researchers will focus on individual actors whose actions produce new “temporalities of future”. The topic of investigation will be visions for the future in colonial, post-colonial and modern-day Latin America. (FU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke; Cooperation Partner: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, El Colegio de Mexico, UNICIT-UNAM Campus Juriquilla; all Mexico)

What impacts does demographic change have on our political system? And how are political decisions about overcoming demographic challenges made? The RTG “The Dynamics of Demography, Democratic Processes and Public Policy (DYNAMICS)” aims to use these fundamental questions to systematically investigate the relationships between demographic development, demographic processes and public policies using an interdisciplinary approach. (HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Heike Klüver)

Peptides are organic chemical compounds that consist of a chain of two or more amino acids. They are produced and used in many areas, from biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology and biomedicine to the materials sciences. The RTG “Bioactive Peptides – Innovative Aspects of Synthesis and Biosynthesis” aims to develop new strategies for peptide and protein synthesis and also biosynthesis and bioengineering. In addition, researchers will examine the structure, stability and bioactivity of peptides. (TU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Roderich D. Süßmuth)

Unlike humans and animals, plants are tied to one location. Because they adapt to their surroundings, plants with the same hereditary information (genotype) and very different appearances (phenotypes) occur. The IRTG “Network, Exchange, and Training Program to Understand Plant Resource Allocation (NEXTplant)” aims to investigate genotype–phenotype relationships more precisely and develop models that predict the allocation of plant resources in growth processes, nutrient absorption and photosynthesis. (University of Düsseldorf, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Andreas P. M. Weber; Cooperation Partner: Michigan State University, United States)

The RTG “Intrinsically Disordered Proteins – Molecular Principles, Cellular Functions and Diseases” will work at the interface between biology and biophysics. The researchers’ focus will be on the eponymous intrinsically disordered proteins (IDP) and intrinsically disordered regions (IDR), which are present in numerous biological polypeptides. Despite their disordered structure, these proteins perform important functions, such as the formation of membraneless organelles, but have hardly been researched to date. University of Halle-Wittenberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Andrea Sinz)

Until now, studies of plant cell compartments have mostly concentrated on individual organelles. The RTG “Communication and Dynamics of Plant Cell Compartments” will now focus its work on the coordination between individual plant organelles. Using this approach, the researchers aim to find out how the dynamics and communication of plant cell compartments, for example plastids or cell nuclei, influence the characteristics of a plant cell. (University of Halle-Wittenberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ingo Hartmut Heilmann)

The RTG will study “Processes in Natural and Technical Particle-Fluid Systems (PintPFS)” and will include both natural soil constituents such as clay or sand and also technical particles such as plastic granulate or cement in its investigation. Certain properties of the particles can be generated by physical, chemical and biological processes. The researchers aim to optimise these processes, comparing the technical materials with the natural materials for this purpose. (TU Hamburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Grabe)

New approaches for preventing and combating viral infections that can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa are the focus of the research programme of the RTG “Virus Detection, Pathogenesis and Intervention (VIPER)”. In the past, viral infections were either approached solely from the perspective of veterinary medicine or that of human medicine – the RTG will now combine both approaches. (TiHo Hannover, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Baumgärtner, Ph.D.)

In its project entitled “Aesthetic Practice” the RTG will examine forms of the aesthetic, in relation both to its creation and its performance. These processes can, but do not have to, culminate in the production and reception of art works. The researchers will investigate art forms such as theatre, performance, fine art, literature and music, and the way they are practised. At the same time, they aim to take account of non-European artistic practices in order to decolonise aesthetic discourse and free it from Eurocentrism. The ultimate aim is to produce a theory of aesthetic practice. (University of Hildesheim Foundation, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hetzel)

Computer simulations are increasingly replacing classical experimental and empirical methods for describing real-life application scenarios. However, these scenarios often run on a wide range of scales of time and space, and are recursive, that is, events on a longer scale determine structure and function on a short scale. The RTG “Tailored Scale-Bridging Approaches to Computational Nanoscience” is therefore developing recursive multi-scale approaches on all relevant length and time scales in order to obtain improved predictions about phenomena such as friction, ageing of materials, material design and biological function. (KIT Karlsruhe, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Marcus Elstner)

The way that substances from surrounding areas make their way into bodies of water is well researched scientifically. The reverse process of transport from the water onto land is far less researched, however. What effects do flood events have on adjacent terrestrial areas? The RTG “Crossing Boundaries: Propagation of In-Stream Environmental Alterations to Adjacent Terrestrial Ecosystems” will study microcontaminants such as fungicides and insecticides as well as invasive species, such as riparian plants and invertebrates, in order to answer this question. (University of Koblenz-Landau, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ralf Schulz)

The RTG „CONVEY – Continuous Verification of Cyber-Physical Systems” will be concerned with cyber-physical systems (CPSs). These are systems controlled by software that interact with the physical world, for example autonomous vehicles, robot surgery or intelligent networks. The biggest problem for these systems is that the environment changes frequently and unpredictably. For CPSs to operate safely and reliably, processes are therefore needed that guarantee correct system behaviour even in changeable settings. These processes are the subject of the RTG's in-depth research. (TU Munich, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Helmut Seidl)

Cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) is an important cellular messenger chemical that is responsible for the transmission of signals in the cell. Many drugs use it as a signal transmitter. The objective of the RTG “cGMP: From Bedside to Bench” is to shed further light on the significance of cGMP in various cell types and tissues in the healthy and diseased organism and hence to obtain new insights into the role of cGMP in tumours and cardiovascular and neurological disorders. (University of Tübingen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Robert Feil)

The ten RTGs extended for a further funding period

(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of spokespersons and with reference to project descriptions in the DFG online project database GEPRIS)

RTG “Quantum Many-Body Methods in Condensed Matter Systems” (RWTH Aachen University, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Volker Meden) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/240766775

RTG “Philosophy, Science and the Sciences” (HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Jonathan Beere) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/228914880

RTG “Metrology for Complex Nanosystems - NANOMET” (TU Braunschweig, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Meinhard Schilling) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/232645976

RTG “Competition Economics” University of Düsseldorf, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Hans-Theo Normann) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/235577387

RTG “Complex Light Control” (University of Frankfurt, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Alexander Heckel) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/237922874

RTG “Nominal Modification” (University of Frankfurt, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Esther Rinke) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/244436322

RTG “Functional Diversity of Cofactors in Enzymes” (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Andreas Bechthold) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/235777276

RTG “Transfer of Culture and ‘Cultural Identity’. German-Russian Contacts in the European Context” (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Cheauré) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/233745993

RTG “Physical Modelling for Virtual Manufacturing Systems and Processes” (TU Kaiserslautern, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan C. Aurich) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/252408385

RTG “Neural Circuit Analysis on the Cellular and Subcellular Level” (University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ansgar Büschges) Externer Linkhttp://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/233886668

Further Information

Media contact:

Further information will also be provided by the spokespersons of the Research Training Groups.

Programme contact at the DFG Head Office:

Additional details about the funding programme and the funded Research Training Groups are available at: