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Press Release No. 9 | 1 April 2019
DFG to Fund Six New Research Units

Topics range from resilience in religion and spirituality to adaptive polymer gels and cytomegalovirus / Approximately €18 million for first funding period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing six new Research Units. This decision was made by the DFG Joint Committee upon recommendation by the Senate in Bonn. The new units will receive a total of approximately €18 million, including a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs, for an initial three-year period. Research Units are generally funded for two three-year periods. In addition to approving the six new units, the Committee extended eight Research Units and one Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences for a second funding period.

Research Units enable researchers to pursue current and pressing issues in their research areas and to take innovative directions in their work. Centres for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences are tailored to the working methods used in these disciplines. With today’s decisions, the DFG is now funding 168 Research Units, 10 Clinical Research Units and 12 Centres for Advanced Studies in SSH.

The six new groups
(in alphabetical order by spokesperson’s university)

The detection rate of causal mutations of rare genetic diseases is stagnating because, although all coding regions of the human genome have been successfully deciphered, diseases caused by changes in non-coding sections are still not understood. The Research Unit “Beyond the Exome – Identifying, Analysing, and Predicting the Disease Potential of Non-Coding DNA Variants” therefore intends to improve the evaluation of whole genome sequences and bring together information on gene regulation in a single database. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Markus Schülke-Gerstenfeld, Charité Berlin – FU Berlin and HU Berlin)

The ability to cope with difficult life experiences without lasting negative impacts is referred to by psychologists as resilience. The Research Unit “Resilience in Religion and Spirituality. Endurance and the Formation of Powerlessness, Fear and Anxiety” aims to investigate this concept in relation to the religious and spiritual dimension of human life. The researchers intend to complement currently accepted resilience factors such as self-perception, self-efficacy, self-regulation, self-control and conflict resolution capability with additional factors and thus define the concept of resilience more precisely. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Richter, University of Bonn)

The Research Unit “Adaptive Polymer Gels with Controlled Network Structure” will work with polymer components that form a shared network structure and swell in both water and organic solvents. The properties of these components make them suitable for a wide range of applications, for example as a material for soft contact lenses. The researchers intend to manipulate the nano- and microstructure of the polymer networks and investigate what impact the characteristics of individual components and the nature of their connections have on the network. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Seiffert, University of Mainz)

In cognitive psychology, basic processes of human action control are studied using a range of experimental paradigms such as task switching, negative priming, sequential conflict and action planning. In the past, however, research into these individual paradigms has developed along independent lines because only one specific aspect of human action control was being analysed at any one time. The Research Unit “Binding and Retrieval in Action Control” therefore aims to develop a framework model that is capable of explaining and integrating existing empirical findings relating to the individual paradigms. The framework should enable new hypotheses and predictions in relation to action control and other areas. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Christian Frings, University of Trier)

Amyloidosis is a rare disease in which abnormally modified proteins accumulate in tissues and organs throughout the body, leading to organ malfunction or failure. Light-chain or AL amyloidosis is one of the most common forms of the disease and manifests itself in many different ways. The purpose of the Research Unit “Mechanisms of Antibody Light Chain Misfolding in Systemic AL Amyloidosis” is to discover how the development and manifestation of two particularly common forms of AL amyloidosis, namely those that affect the heart and kidneys, are caused by protein biochemistry factors. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Marcus Fändrich, University of Ulm)

The Research Unit “Advanced Concepts in Cellular Immune Control of Cytomegalovirus” will focus on the investigation of the cellular immune response to cytomegalovirus. This virus belongs to the family of herpes viruses, and following infection it remains in human cells for the rest of an individual’s life. In healthy individuals this does not cause a problem, and infection often causes no symptoms, but in patients with a weakened immune system infection can be dangerous. How cytomegaloviruses escape detection by the immune system and what defensive mechanisms the immune system can develop is still poorly understood. The Research Unit intends to fill this knowledge gap. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Lars Dölken, University of Würzburg)

The nine research collaborations extended for a second funding period
(in alphabetical order by their spokesperson’s university, with links to project descriptions in GEPRIS, the DFG’s online project database):

Further Information

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