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Press Release No. 13 | 21 May 2019
DFG to Fund 13 New Research Training Groups

Topics range from the physics of the heaviest particles to cybercrime and the consequences of social services work / €65 million for initial four-and-a-half-year period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 13 new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further support early career researchers. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee in Bonn. The new RTGs will receive a total of approximately €65 million in funding for an initial period of four and a half years, starting from the second half of 2019. This includes a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. One of the new groups is an International Research Training Group (IRTG) with partners in Japan.

In addition to the 13 new projects, the Grants Committee also approved the extension of 10 existing RTGs for an additional funding period. These include two IRTGs with partners in Canada. 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 is currently providing funding to a total of 214 RTGs, of which 39 are IRTGs.

The 13 new Research Training Groups in detail
(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of spokespersons, other applicant universities and cooperation partners):

The RTG “The Physics of the Heaviest Particles at the Large Hadron Collider” aims to better understand the structure of the Higgs mechanism, a central component of the standard model of elementary particle physics. The research team will investigate the properties of elementary particles, combining theoretical investigations and experimental data provided by the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. They will concentrate on the Higgs boson, the special role of the top quark (the elementary particle with the largest known mass), and the search for previously undiscovered types of heavy particles. (RWTH Aachen University, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Michal Czakon)

Brexit, the currency crisis, the democratic deficit, the ‘two-speed Europe’ – in recent years, European integration has experienced repeated setbacks. The RTG “Dynamic Integration – Law in-between Harmonisation and Plurality in Europe (DynamInt)” aims to analyse disintegrative processes of this kind and the insistence on nation-state sovereignty from a legal perspective. The harmonisation and plurality of European law should be understood as equally important mechanisms of European integration. (HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Matthias Ruffert)

The RTG “Regional Disparities and Economic Policy” aims to discover why there are still regional differences in variables such as income and employment. Why has there been no equalisation of living conditions in the regions and what conclusions can we draw from this for economic policy purposes? The RTG intends to answer these questions at the regional level on a theoretical and empirical basis and thus contribute to a deeper understanding of regional economic mechanisms and better economic policy advice. (University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Tobias Seidel; Additional applicant universities: University of Bochum, TU Dortmund)

The goal of the RTG “Modulation of Intersystem Crossing – ModISC” is to study light as a sustainable and low-cost energy source. The researchers, whose backgrounds are in natural and materials sciences, will look at a wide range of aspects from synthesis and quantum chemistry calculations to spectroscopy and potential applications in the form of organic light-emitting diodes and other components. (University of Düsseldorf, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Thomas J. J. Müller)

Cybercrime is a growing threat in highly developed societies. At the same time, new means of law enforcement are emerging, for example automatic data analysis online and surveillance programmes. But how does forensic computing affect the constitutional rights of individuals? The RTG “Cybercrime and Forensic Computing” brings together experts in computer science and law to systematically explore the prosecution of cybercrime. (Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Felix Freiling)

A new RTG will investigate “Novel Antiviral Approaches: From Small Molecules to Immune Intervention”. Different immune interventions, such as cell-intrinsic restriction, vaccination and adoptive transfer of adaptive immunity, will be combined with antiviral chemotherapy. By combining two therapy approaches, the researchers aim to create new treatment methods, for example for HIV patients. (Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Klaus Überla)

The use of heavy metals in electronic devices is prohibited under international law. The aim of the IRTG “Energy Conversion Systems: From Materials to Devices” is therefore to investigate electromechanical and electro-optical energy conversion systems based on lead-free perovskite materials. Researchers in Erlangen and Nuremberg (Germany) and Nagoya (Japan) will collaborate to lay the foundations for applications such as autonomous wireless sensors. (Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Kyle Grant Webber; Cooperation Partner: Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan)

The mathematical RTG “Fourier Analysis and Spectral Theory” will focus on an important area of analysis, which is to be investigated from different perspectives. The team aims to bring together mathematical physics, topology and analytical number theory with the aid of Fourier analysis and spectral theory. Generalisations of these two classic mathematical methods, which were developed long ago in the investigation of wave phenomena, will be used in new applications. (University of Göttingen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Thomas Schick)

The RTG “Strong Dynamics and Criticality in Quantum and Gravitational Systems”is situated at the interface between gravitational physics and quantum field theory. For a long time, these two theories developed largely independently of one another. Now, however, the combination of the different aspects is a very active field of research because of the considerable scientific potential it offers. The researchers will concentrate on the gravitation side by exploring gravitational wave phenomena and black holes and on the quantum side by studying dynamics and criticality near phase transitions. (University of Jena, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Holger Gies; additional applicant university: University of Leipzig)

The use of antibiotics in medicine, pesticides in agriculture and the disruption of the Earth’s ecosystems all influence the natural selection and thus evolution of organisms. But to what extent do human factors intervene in evolutionary processes? The RTG “Translational Evolutionary Research” will study this very question, addressing current and socially relevant issues such as the development of antibiotic resistance and the impact of overfishing. (Kiel University, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg)

Within a population of a given species, no two individuals are exactly alike. This phenotypic variation is based on differences in gene expression that arise through natural selection. As part of the RTG “GenEvo – Gene Regulation in Evolution: From Molecular to Extended Phenotypes”, researchers in evolutionary and molecular biology will investigate which regulatory processes are evolutionarily conserved and which are subject to rapid change. (University of Mainz, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik)

A new RTG will investigate the “Chemical Biology of Ion Channels (Chembion)”. Ion channels are proteins that form pores in cell membranes, allowing charged particles to pass through the membrane. This process plays an important role in the transmission of stimuli in neurons, for instance. The researchers, whose backgrounds are in natural sciences and medicine, will study the development, synthesis and modification of small organic molecules with which the open or closed status of ion channels is controlled. These will then be used as chemical tools in a pharmacological context. (University of Münster, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Wünsch)

The RTG “Between User-Focused and Impact Research: Consequences of Social Services Work” will investigate key aspects of social services work in the welfare state. The team aims to explore intended and non-intended long-term consequences of social services work from a social-pedagogic, psychological and sociological perspective. (University of Siegen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Bernd Dollinger)

The 10 RTGs extended for a further funding period
(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of spokespersons, additional applicant universities and cooperation partners, with reference to project descriptions in the DFG online database GEPRIS):

RTG “Parasite Infections: From Experimental Models to Natural Systems” (FU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Susanne Hartmann)

RTG “Urban Water Interfaces (UWI)” (TU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Reinhard Hinkelmann)

RTG “Mass and Symmetries after the Discovery of the Higgs Particle at the LHC” (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Markus Schumacher)

RTG “Biological Responses to Novel and Changing Environments (RESPONSE)” (University of Greifswald, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Gerald Kerth)

RTG “Interconfessionality in the Early Modern Period” (University of Hamburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Johann Anselm Steiger)

RTG “Hallmarks of Skin Cancer: Tumor Microenvironment and Melanoma Immunity” (Heidelberg University, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Sergij Goerdt)

IRTG “Integrated Engineering of Continuous-Discontinuous Long Fiber Reinforced Polymer Structures” (Karlsruhe KIT, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Böhlke, Cooperation Partner: University of Western Ontario, Canada)

RTG “Molecular Architectures for Fluorescent Cell Imaging” (Karlsruhe KIT, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Hans-Achim Wagenknecht)

IRTG “Alberta/Technical University of Munich International Graduate School for Environmentally Responsible Functional Hybrid Materials (ATUMS)” (TU Munich, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Rieger, Cooperation Partner: University of Alberta, Canada)

RTG “European Dream-Cultures” (University of Saarbrücken, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Christiane Solte-Gresser)

Further Information

Media contact:

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

Programme contact at DFG Head Office:

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