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Press Release No. 21 | 29 May 2020
DFG to Fund Ten New Collaborative Research Centres

Topics range from carbon reinforced concrete structures and deformation and rigidity to local control of thyroid hormone activity / €114 million in funding for initial four-year period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing ten new Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) to further support top-level research in German universities. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee which convened via video link due to the coronavirus pandemic. The new CRCs will receive a total of approximately €114 million in funding for an initial four-year period starting on 1 July 2020. This includes a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. Six of the nine networks set up are Transregio CRCs, spread across multiple applicant universities.

In addition to the establishment of the ten new groups, the Grants Committee also approved the extension of 23 existing CRCs for an additional funding period, including six Transregio CRCs. Collaborative Research Centres allow researchers to tackle innovative, challenging, complex and long-term research projects as a group, and hence support the further development of core areas and structures at the applicant universities. CRCs are funded for a maximum of twelve years. From July 2020, the DFG will be funding a total of 274 CRCs.

The ten new Collaborative Research Centres in detail
(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of spokespersons and the other applicant universities):

Parkinson’s disease and dystonia, tics or brain-related gait disorders: The CRC/Transregio “Retuning dynamic motor network disorders using neuromodulation” studies the diverse symptoms of disorders of motor control circuits in the nervous system. The researchers are focussing on the application, in-depth research and further development of deep brain stimulation, a clinically established method that is yet to be used to its full potential. One of the objectives of the CRC/TRR is to contribute towards eliminating network activities altered by disease and preserving or even restoring normal functions. (Charité Berlin – FU Berlin and HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Andrea Kühn; Additional applicant university: University of Würzburg)

The examination of many contemporary questions in the natural sciences involves the analysis of large volumes of data using automatic analysis tools, with the interaction between them being determined in what are known as data analysis workflows. The development work required for this is still very extensive. The CRC “FONDA - Foundations of Workflows for Large-Scale Scientific Data Analysis” aims to fill this gap and investigate techniques, procedures and tools that will improve the productivity of researchers in the creation and application of data analysis workflows. It focuses on the properties of portability, adaptivity and reliability, which are essential for this objective. (HU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ulf Leser)

The subject matter of the CRC/Transregio “BULK-REACTION - Reacting and moving granular assemblies with gas flow” are chemical and physical processes in particle systems that are used for energy storage purposes as well as in the food and pharmaceutical industry. The CRC intends to analyse the central processes in these systems using three-dimensional simulations with an unprecedented degree of detail. The long-term objective is to create the scientific foundations for new reactors based on particle systems and resulting products, increase the energy efficiency of these processes and reduce CO2 emissions. (University of Bochum, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Viktor Scherer; Additional applicant university: University of Magdeburg)

New materials can be used to create new designs and constructions in the building industry. However, execution is often a long process, and frequently marked by errors. The same is true for the world’s most frequently used building material: concrete. The CRC/Transregio “Design Strategies for Material-Minimised Carbon Reinforced Concrete Structures - Principles of a New Approach to Construction” examines the traditional design principles of reinforced concrete construction, analyses mutual dependencies of materials and, drawing on this, intends to create a new design and construction strategy for building with concrete. (TU Dresden, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Manfred Curbach; Additional applicant university: RWTH Aachen University)

Two-dimensional materials consisting of one or a few layers have great potential for use in electronics, for example. In their synthesis, the greatest challenge – which has been inadequately researched thus far – is achieving the necessary structural precision at the atomic and molecular level, which in turn determines the desired material properties. The objective of the CRC “Chemistry of Synthetic Two-Dimensional Materials” is therefore to develop methods for material synthesis, structure and property characterisation and modelling for the production of new two-dimensional materials with a high level of structural precision and suitably adjustable properties. (TU Dresden, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Xinliang Feng)

The positive or negative expectations of patients, also known as placebo or nocebo effects, play an important role in the success of medical treatments. They can also influence the onset of symptoms as well as the progression of diseases or the effectiveness and tolerability of therapies. The CRC/Transregio “Treatment Expectation - The impact of expectation on health outcome” intends to investigate the effect of expectations on treatments for patients with chronic pain or depression. The objective is to systematically factor in, predict and utilise such expectation effects and their respective variations within the context of medical treatments in future. (University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Bingel; Additional applicant universities: University of Hamburg, University of Marburg)

Local activity of thyroid hormones is essential for the functioning of many organs. The CRC/Transregio “Local control of TH action (LocoTact)” addresses the question of which factors regulate local thyroid hormone activity and how poor regulation accelerates the development of heart, liver or central nervous system disorders. By studying the underlying mechanisms, the network aims to contribute to more targeted treatment options for some rare diseases as well as for common diseases. (University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dagmar Führer-Sakel; Additional applicant universities: Charité Berlin – FU Berlin and HU Berlin, University of Lübeck)

The CRC/Transregio “Elastic Tuning and Response of Electronic Quantum Phases of Matter (ELASTO-Q-MAT)” analyses the novel physical phenomena of solids that result from a particularly strong connection between the elastic properties of the material and its electronic quantum phases. Based on the findings obtained, the CRC/Transregio aims to produce new quantum materials with extraordinary properties and research the application potential associated with the interaction between mechanical and electronic properties. (Goethe University Frankfurt, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Maria-Roser Valenti; Additional applicant universities: KIT Karlsruhe, University of Mainz)

There is a strong focus on muscle cells in heart research. However, other cell types, known as nonmyocytes such as immune cells, account for the majority of heart cells and have not yet been the object of a research network with a thematic focus. The CRC “Heterocellular Nature of Cardiac Lesions: Identities, Interactions, Implications” regards nonmyocytes as key components in the maintenance and repair of heart structure and heart function – and thus as an important consideration for potential treatments. It aims to understand the role played by nonmyocytes in natural repair processes that occur following heart lesions, develop concepts to control and manage the resultant restructuring processes and lay the foundations for innovative approaches to diagnosis and treatment. (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Peter Kohl)

Many of the major unanswered questions in mathematics are either geometric in nature or can be studied from a geometric perspective. Deformations and rigidity are two conflicting geometric concepts that play a key role in this. They are the focus of the CRC “Geometry: Deformation and Rigidity”. The researchers are examining and comparing these two factors, with the aim of gaining new insights and, to some extent, confirming or refuting assumptions that have long been unresolved. (University of Münster, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Arthur Bartels)

The 23 CRCs extended for a further funding period
(in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the names of spokespersons and additional applicant universities, with reference to project descriptions in the DFG online database GEPRIS):

CRC “Functional Microgels and Microgel Systems” (RWTH Aachen University, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Walter Richtering)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/191948804

CRC “Episteme in Motion. Transfer of Knowledge From the Ancient World to the Early Modern Period” (FU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Gyburg Uhlmann)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/191249397

CRC/TRR “Discretization in Geometry and Dynamics” (TU Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Alexander I. Bobenko; Additional applicant university: TU Munich)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/195170736

CRC “Interaction between Transport and Wetting Processes” (TU Darmstadt, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Stephan)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/265191195

CRC “Volition and Cognitive Control: Mechanisms, Modulators and Dysfunctions” (TU Dresden, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Thomas Goschke)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/178833530

CRC “Non-equilibrium dynamics of condensed matter in the time domain” (University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Uwe Bovensiepen)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/278162697

CRC “Heroes - Heroizations - Heroisms. Transformations and Conjunctures from Antiquity to the Modern Day” (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/181750155

CRC “MEDEP - Medical Epigenetics - from basic mechanisms to clinical applications” (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Roland Schüle)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/192904750

CRC “Pulmonary Hypertension and Cor Pulmonale” (University of Giessen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Norbert Weißmann)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/268555672

CRC “Modulatory Units in Heart Failure” (University of Göttingen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Gerd Hasenfuß)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/193793266

CRC “Designed Quantum States of Matter (DQ-mat) - generation, manipulation, and detection for metrological applications and tests of fundamental physics” (University of Hannover, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Piet Oliver Schmidt)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/274200144

CRC/TRR “Determinants and dynamics of elimination versus persistence of hepatitis virus infection” (University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Ralf Bartenschlager; Additional applicant universities: University of Freiburg, TU Munich)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/272983813

CRC “Isolated quantum systems and universality in extreme conditions (ISOQUANT)” (University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Berges)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/273811115

CRC/TRR “Molecular Switches: Spatio-temporal Control of Cellular Signal Transmission” (University of Heidelberg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Walter Nickel; Additional applicant university: FU Berlin)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/278001972

CRC/TRR “OSCAR - Open System Control of Atomic and Photonic Matter” (TU Kaiserslautern, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Michael Fleischhauer; Additional applicant university: University of Bonn)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/277625399

CRC “Scales of Transformation: Human-environmental Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies” (Kiel University, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/290391021

CRC “Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit” (University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Tibor J. Dunai)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/268236062

CRC “Mitochondrial regulation of cellular function” (University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Elena Irene Rugarli)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/269925409

CRC/TRR “Entangled States of Matter” (University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Simon Trebst; Additional applicant universities: FU Berlin, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/277101999

CRC/TRR “The Green Hub: Central Coordinator of Acclimation in Plants” (LMU Munich, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dario Leister; Additional applicant universities: HU Berlin, TU Kaiserslautern)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/270050988

CRC “Breaking Barriers - Immune cells and pathogens at cell / matrix barriers” (University of Münster, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Johannes Roth)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/194468054

CRC “Media of Cooperation” (University of Siegen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Tristan Thielmann)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/262513311

CRC “Experimental Models and Clinical Translation in Leukemia” (University of Ulm, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner)
Externer Linkhttps://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/217328187

Further Information

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