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Press Release No. 51 | 9 December 2022
DFG to Fund Seven New Research Units, One New Clinical Research Unit and One New Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences

Topics range from improved disease therapies and more efficient energy supply to more precise measurement of the world / A total of approximately €46.6 million approved for first funding period

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing seven new Research Units, one new Clinical Research Unit and one new Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. This was decided by the DFG Joint Committee on the recommendation of the Senate. The new Research Units will receive total funding of approximately €46.6 million, including a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. The new groups will be funded for a maximum of two four-year periods. In addition to the nine newly created groups, the extension of seven Research Units and one Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences was also approved for a second funding period. One of the newly established Research Units and two of the Research Units which have been extended for an additional period will receive funding under the framework of the D-A-CH cooperation together with the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) or the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).

Research Units enable researchers to pursue current and pressing issues in their areas of research and take innovative directions in their work. With these new additions, the DFG is currently funding 183 Research Units, 12 Clinical Research Units and 18 Centres for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Clinical Research Units are also characterised by the close connection between research and clinical work, while Centres for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences are specifically tailored to work in the humanities and social sciences.

The new research collaborations in detail
(in alphabetical order of the spokespersons’ HEIs)

When it comes to solutions to the energy crisis, efficient solar cells that can be produced as sustainably as possible are a potential way out. The Research Unit Printed & Stable Organic Photovoltaics from Non-Fullerene Acceptors will therefore focus on solar cells made of novel organic materials that can be produced by established printing processes. In order to understand and further develop this class of solar cell from the ground up, the Research Unit will be adopting a strongly interdisciplinary approach, bringing together researchers from chemistry and materials science, physics and mathematics, and even including printing technology. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Carsten Deibel, TU Chemnitz)

Profit-oriented companies use a variety of strategies such as cancellation barriers, misleading product information and hidden contract clauses involving additional costs to sell consumers overpriced products that are useless to them. According to studies, it is mainly poorer, elderly or less educated people who are affected by this. The Research Unit Consumer Preferences, Consumer Mistakes, and Firms’ Response will seek to analyse valid patterns here using self-developed dynamic methods and incorporate these into formal models of the digital economy. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Paul Heidhues, University of Düsseldorf)

Cellular and molecular factors in the gut can modulate brain function and, according to recent findings, play a central role in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal and neurological diseases. The Clinical Research Unit Immune checkpoints of gut to brain communication in inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases (GB.Com) aims to investigate the interaction between the gut and the nervous system in immune-mediated inflammatory and degenerative diseases and, by linking the subjects of immunology and neuroscience, provide the basis for developing new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Beate Winner, University Hospital Erlangen, Head: Professor Dr. Claudia Günther, University Hospital Erlangen)

The urinary tract is often subject to bacterial infections which not infrequently spread to the kidneys. Because of a variety of factors that reduce the success of therapy, this can be life-threatening under certain circumstances. For this reason, an improved understanding of these infections is urgently needed at the molecular level. The Research Unit BActerial Renal InfeCtion And DEfense (BARICADE) aims to investigate the causes and molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial infections of the kidney in this field, thereby paving the way for new treatment strategies. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Florian Wagenlehner, University Hospital Gießen and Marburg)

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Germany – and the trend is rising. For diseases with a poor prognosis in particular, there is a significant demand for new treatment methods. This is the point of departure for the Research Unit RNA in focus (RIF): From mechanisms to novel therapeutic strategies in cancer treatment. Its goal is to investigate the role and potential of non-coded ribonucleic acids (ncRNAs) and retinol-binding transport proteins in tumours, decipher the underlying biology and develop treatment concepts at the preclinical level (spokesperson: Professor Dr. Stefan Hüttelmaier, University of Halle-Wittenberg)

It was not only the coronavirus pandemic that highlighted the fact that, in order to have an impact on society, scientific findings require a high level of trust in public discourse. When it comes to controversial issues, however, this trust often declines – knowledge is threatened by ignorance. The Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences SOCRATES – Social Credibility and Trustworthiness of Expert Knowledge and Science-Based Information aims to investigate the philosophical preconditions that are relevant to trust in knowledge and scientific credibility in general. The focus is also on processes through which scientific expertise can be undermined. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Mathias Frisch, University of Hanover)

The stability of the human genome is constantly under threat from internal and external genotoxic attacks. While the reactions of the cell – repair mechanisms and DNA damage responses – have been the subject of intense research, the effects of genome instability on disease and ageing processes are still very poorly understood. The Research Unit Physiological causes and consequences of genome instability aims to fill this gap by looking into the physiological causes and effects in this field. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Björn Schumacher, University Hospital Cologne)

The exact measurement of the Earth has not yet been completed. This is of crucial importance, especially with regard to climate change and natural disasters: an exact description of the Earth’s surface is crucial when it comes to the rise in sea level due to the melting of the polar ice caps, for example – currently one of the most imprecisely determined variables. The main goal of the Research Unit Clock Metrology: A Novel Approach to TIME in Geodesy is to introduce “time coherence” as a new additional connecting variable for geodetic measurement techniques, among other things by integrating optical clocks so as to be able to measure the Earth with even greater precision in the millimetre range. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Schreiber, TU Munich)

When awake, the brain takes in far more information than can be stored in the long term. The Research Unit Information Abstraction During Sleep assumes that the “offline” mode of sleep serves to reduce this information load to certain core elements through abstraction. The deeper understanding of the memory function of sleep is to ultimately pave the way to translational approaches to improving memory processes in connection with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and in the assimilation of knowledge through appropriate sleep-related interventions. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Jan Born, University of Tübingen)

The research collaborations extended for a second funding period
(in alphabetical order of the spokespersons’ HEIs and with references to the project descriptions in the DFG online database GEPRIS):

Further information

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