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Press Release No. 48 | 25 November 2021
DFG to Fund 14 New Collaborative Research Centres

Topics range from “Iron, upgraded!” to regional climate change and the intervening arts / €141 million in funding for an initial period of four years

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 14 new Collaborative Research Centres (CRC) to promote world-class research at universities. This was an-nounced by the relevant Grants Committee, which met by video conference. The new CRCs will initially receive a total of approximately €141 million over a period of four years from 1 January 2022 onwards. This includes a 22-percent programme allowance for indirect project-related costs. Two of the new consortia are CRC/Transregios (TRR) are distributed across multiple applicant universities.

In addition to the 14 new institutions, the Grants Committee agreed to extend funding by another fund-ing period for another 20 CRCs, including ten CRC/Transregios. Collaborative Research Centres allow researchers to tackle innovative, challenging and long-term research projects within the network and should enable institutional priority area development and structural development at the applicant uni-versities. CRCs are awarded funding for a maximum of twelve years. From January 2022 the DFG will be funding a total of 279 CRCs.

The 14 new Collaborative Research Centres in detail
(in alphabetical order of host university, with information on the spokesperson as well as the other applicant universities):

More than ever today, the arts are driven by the aspiration to have an impact on society: they champi-on democracy and human rights, they address crises such as climate change and the coronavirus, and they put forward new concepts for living and working. Researchers in numerous humanities disciplines and sociology propose the term Intervening Arts to describe this phenomenon, and this has been chosen as the title of a Collaborative Research Centre. The consortium aims to redefine the social position of art as an intervening practice and develop a conceptual framework for art in the modern-day era (FU Berlin, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jürgen Brokoff).

There are hardly any effective drugs for the treatment of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (“HFpEF”) – a condition that has only been known for a few years and is often fatal for those affected. The ejection fraction is the amount of blood that is pumped out of the left ventricle with each heartbeat. The goal of the Collaborative Research Centre Multilevel mechanistic characterisation of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction – Towards a novel classification of HFpEF for targeted therapies is to achieve a comprehensive characterisation of the disease – from investigation of the fundamentals through to clinical research – so as to gain an improved understanding of the nu-merous underlying mechanisms. (Charité – FU Berlin and HU Berlin, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Burkert Pieske)

Extensive research has been done on the individual metaphors used in religious texts. The Collabora-tive Research Centre Metaphors of Religion. Religious Meaning-Making in Language Use takes a new approach by interpreting the use of metaphors as a central principle of the creation of religious meaning. Based on numerous religious currents, it aims to gain a better understanding of the emer-gence of religion as a socio-cultural phenomenon so as to acquire a more precise grasp of the key developments within religious traditions. In doing so, it uses novel methods of analysis derived from computational linguistics, which is also expected to bring about technical progress in the computerised analysis of texts. In the long term, all identified metaphors are to be linked to a common “thesaurus of religious metaphors”. (University of Bochum, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Volkhard Krech)

Despite the progress made in the field of astrophysics, the interaction between cosmic rays and matter is still far from being adequately understood. For this reason, the Collaborative Research Centre Cosmic Interacting Matters – From Source to Signal seeks to systematically investigate the interplay between matter and energy with a particular focus on the energy transfer between magnetic fields, cosmic rays, thermal plasmas and dark matter. In this way, it aims to contribute to deciphering the fundamental properties of matter in the universe. (University of Bochum, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Julia Tjus)

Phenomena such as droughts and increasing precipitation are attributed to global warming and the nat-ural variability of the climate system. But existing climate models do not adequately explain such ob-servations. For this reason, the Collaborative Research Centre Regional Climate Change: Disentan-gling the Role of Land Use and Water Management seeks to explore the causes of climate change at the regional level. Its central hypothesis is that changes in the use of the land surface – in particular the intensification of agriculture and irrigation – are bringing about a change in the water and energy cycle that is also affecting regional climate. (University of Bonn, spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Kusche)

Some three billion people worldwide suffer from overweight and obesity, especially in the western industrialised nations. This results in secondary disorders such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular dis-eases and cancer. It has recently become known that thermogenic adipose tissue, consisting of brown and beige fatty tissue, is crucial to the balance of energy metabolism – but the details of how the mechanisms of activation and regulation function are still not known. The CFC/Transregio Brown and Beige Fat – Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics (BATenergy) aims to gain an overarching understanding of this in order to grasp the causes of obesity and develop treatment methods. (University of Bonn, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Alexander Pfeifer; also applying: University of Hamburg, TU Munich)

Numerous chemical processes and materials – such as those involved in hydrogen technology and in the field of electromobility – are based on rare, expensive, toxic or environmentally harmful metals, including ruthenium, platinum, palladium and lead. By contrast, iron is a versatile, inexpensive, readily available material that is harmless to human health and is ideally suited to addressing sustainability issues from a chemical perspective. The Collaborative Research Centre Iron, upgraded! has therefore set itself the goal of influencing this metal in its compounds by precisely manipulating the chemical environment in such a way that iron can serve as a long-term substitute for rare, toxic or critical metals. (TU Darmstadt, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ulrike Ingrid Kramm)

The CFC/Transregio Digital twin of the road system – Physical-informational representation of the future road system takes a particularly comprehensive look at future challenges in the area of road traffic. The “digital twin road” is to lay the foundations for the analysis and control of roads in the future as an intelligent system that will subsequently enable efficient use of the road infrastructure while at the same time meeting the requirements of future mobility. One particularly important point is the inclusion of legal and political perspectives such as data protection and sustainability issues. (TU Dresden, spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Michael Kaliske; also applying: RWTH Aachen)

How do basic cognitive functions such as perception, selective attention, action planning and decision-making contribute to social interaction? And how can they be explained from a neuronal point of view? To answer these questions, the Collaborative Research Centre Cognition of Interaction investigates how faces and other social stimuli are perceived, visual-sensory predictions are made and selective attention is directed to the actions of others. The CFC will combine aspects of behavioural and cognitive psychology with approaches drawn from systemic and theoretical neuroscience. (University of Göttingen, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Alexander Gail)

Some 4 percent of cancer patients in Germany suffer from B cell malignancies, so-called neoplasia – an important component of the immune system. The Collaborative Research Centre Elucidation and targeting of pathogenic mechanisms in B cell malignancies aims to improve the therapeutic chances of patients suffering from this type of cancer. This is to be achieved by efficiently disrupting oncogenic signalling pathways of the lymphoma cell, i.e. the tumour cell, and specifically modulating the lym-phoma microenvironment. For this purpose, the consortium aims to carry out research into essential aspects of lymphoma biology. (University of Cologne, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Michael Hallek)

About 8 percent of people are affected by autoimmune diseases in industrialised countries. These oc-cur when there is a misdirected immune response against the body’s own structures due to certain genetic and non-genetic factors. Pemphigoid disorders (PE) are a form of autoimmune disease that dam-ages the skin and mucous membranes. Despite their increasing importance in an ageing society, they are among the least researched autoimmune diseases worldwide. The Collaborative Research Centre Pathomechanisms of Antibody-mediated Autoimmunity (PANTAU): Insights from Pemphigoid Diseases explores PE as a model for autoantibody-mediated autoimmune diseases in order to decipher the mechanisms of disease development and explore new approaches to diagnostics and therapy. (Univer-sity of Lübeck, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Detlef Zillikens)

Research into Light-Matter Interactions at Interfaces using powerful, ultra-fast laser fields is the focus of a project being undertaken by theoretical and experimental physicists. Using novel approach-es, this Collaborative Research Centre aims to investigate geometric, electronic and topological proper-ties of matter with the help of tailor-made light. The aim is to gain optimum control of the particle dynamics in the materials. (University of Rostock, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Dieter Bauer)

What are the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the general loss in structure and function of tissues and organs in the ageing process? The Collaborative Research Centre Aging at Interfaces is dedicated to elucidating this question, focusing on processes in the brain, skin and connective tissues and immune system. It does this starting from the paradigm of the interface to describe and understand ageing as a functional or dysfunctional communication process at different structural and molecular interfaces. (University of Ulm, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Hartmut Geiger)

Recent research into heart muscle disease shows that inflammatory and immunological mechanisms influence the capacity of the heart. Depending on context and time, such as in the case of a heart attack, they can have both positive and negative effects. The Collaborative Research Centre Cardio-immune Interfaces aims to elucidate the interactions between these mechanisms and heart disease, thereby laying the foundation for new therapies. (University of Würzburg, spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Frantz)

The 20 CRCs with their funding extended for an additional period
(in alphabetical order of host university, with information on the spokesperson as well as the other applicant universities and with references to the project descriptions in GEPRIS – the DFG internet database for current funding):

Further Information

Media contact:

The respective spokesperson of each Collaborative Research Centre can also provide additional information.

Contact at the DFG Head Office:

More detailed information on the funding programme and the Collaborative Research Centres to be awarded funding can be found here: