DFG approves establishment of new CRCs; research topics range from modern prostheses to political reforms to marine bacteria

The DFG has approved the establishment of 17 new Collaborative Research Centres as of 1 January 2010. This decision was made recently by the relevant Grants Committee in Bonn. The new centres will initially be funded for four years with a total of -132 million. In addition, 20 percent overhead funding for indirect costs will also be provided for each project. The centres' research topics range from modern prostheses to political reforms to marine bacteria.

The new projects will address, among other topics, communication processes within and between cells on a molecular level, new perspectives on material systems with electronic interactions, and the significance of Roseobacter clade bacteria for the carbon balance of the world's oceans.

Other topics of the new CRCs include the development of an antibiotic-free diet for swine, the causes of success or failure of political reforms, and the study of liver cancer from its molecular formation to metastasation. Six of the 17 new cooperative projects are CRC/Transregios, which are located at multiple research locations.

The Grants Committee also voted to extend nine CRCs for another funding period. As of January 2010, the DFG will thus fund a total of 244 Collaborative Research Centres.

The new Collaborative Research Centres:

Material systems with strong electronic correlations open fascinating possibilities for future generations of electronic components. Within the scope of CRC/Transregio 80, "From Electronic Correlations to Functionality", processes and instruments are to be developed that contribute new prospects for the study of electronic properties of complex homogenous and inhomogeneous systems. By dovetailing experimental and theoretical methods, the researchers in Augsburg and Munich plan to establish a forum for basic and application-oriented research on electronic correlations. The goal of the research cooperation is to understand, develop, produce and characterise systems with modern electronic properties. (Host university: University of Augsburg; spokesperson: Professor Jochen Mannhart; cooperative partner: Technical University of Munich, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich; participating institutions: Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Stuttgart; Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Munich)

CRC/Transregio 63, "Integrated Chemical Processes in Liquid Multiphase Systems", addresses the development of efficient production processes from raw material to purified product on the basis of chemical reactions that are performed in liquid multiphase systems. In doing so, scientists from the Technical University of Berlin and from Dortmund and Magdeburg will combine a bottom-up method - in which the reaction leads to the overall process - and a top-down approach - in which the requirements for individual process steps are formulated for different process variants. (Host university: Technical University of Berlin; spokesperson: Professor Matthias Kraume; other universities involved with the proposal: Technical University Dortmund, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg; participating institution: Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Magdeburg)

CRC 852, "Nutrition and Intestinal Microbiota - Host Interaction in the Pig", will take an interdisciplinary approach in addressing the effect of nutrition on intestinal function and animal health. Researchers at the Free University in Berlin aim to treat swine diseases that have health-policy and economic relevance more effectively or even prevent them. In particular, they seek to achieve greater efficiency in animal husbandry without the use of antibiotics. This research will open up numerous possibilities for animal nutrition, health, and food safety. The potential transferability of the results to humans is a long-term part of the research programme (Host university: Free University in Berlin; spokesperson: Professor J-rgen Zentek; other participating universities: Charit- University Hospital, Berlin; Humboldt University in Berlin; Technical University of Berlin; participating institutions: German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Berlin; German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbr-cke)

The goal of CRC 834, "Endothelial Signalling and Vascular Repair", is to better understand vascular disease. For this purpose, research interest will focus on important molecular and cell-biological questions on the function and regeneration of endothelial cells and, thus, on associated disease patterns, such as those of cardiovascular diseases. To accomplish this, researchers at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim seek to identify cellular and molecular mechanisms of signal transmission that circulate in the bloodstream and to develop better therapy concepts for regenerating blood vessels. (Host university: Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main; spokesperson: Professor Ingrid Fleming; participating institution: Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim)

Cell motility is among the key properties of malignant tumour cells and their resulting spread through metastases. In the new CRC 850, "Control of Cell Motility in Morphogenesis, Cancer Invasion and Metastasis", Freiburg researchers with backgrounds in developmental biology and cancer research will combine their expertise and form a scientific network to better understand the molecular mechanisms of tumour-cell invasion and metastasis formation and to initiate new approaches for diagnosis and therapy. Special focus will be placed on understanding the control and loss of control of physiological and pathological cell motility in embryo and tissue development, as well on as the spread of and cell invasion by tumours. (Host university: Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg; spokesperson: Professor Christoph Peters; participating institution: Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology, Freiburg)

Liver ailments are among the most common diseases in the world. In CRC 841, "Liver Inflammation-Infection, Immune Regulation and Consequences", researchers will study the underlying causes and mechanisms of inflammatory liver diseases, as well as the role of inflammation in response to liver damage. These scientists are particularly interested in the transition from reparative regeneration to malignant transformation, as well as in the question of how infection defences, inflammation processes, and growth are regulated in the liver. The findings should serve as a basis for new therapies.. (Host university: University of Hamburg; spokesperson: Professor Ansgar W. Lohse; other universities involved with the proposal: Christian Albrechts University of Kiel, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Z-rich, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; participating institution: Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg)

When repairing used, complex capital goods, how can as many components of the overall system be retained or refurbished so that their functional properties can be restored and, if possible, even improved? This is the practical, scientific challenge addressed by CRC 871, "Regeneration of Capital Goods". Primarily using aircraft engines, researchers at the University of Hannover plan to develop a system for determining how the characteristics of components change after they have been used and for examining the complicated interplay between used and new parts. Scientists aim to integrate control of the regeneration process and to optimise it in an economical, functional and safety-relevant manner. (Host university: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University Hannover; spokesperson: Professor J-rg Seume; participating institutions: German Aerospace Center (DLR), G-ttingen; Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.)

Liver cancer is among the most common forms of malignant tumours. Treatment options up to now, however, have been quite limited. The goal of CRC/Transregio 77, "Liver Cancer -

From Molecular Pathogenesis to Targeted Therapies", is to transform findings from biomedical basic research into new liver-cancer therapies. Researchers in Heidelberg, Hannover and Braunschweig seek to gain an in-depth understanding of the molecular formation of liver cancer from its start, caused by chronic liver disease, to the point of metastasis, which could then lead to new preventative, therapeutic and diagnostic approaches. (Host university: Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg; spokesperson: Professor Peter Schirmacher; other university involved with the proposal: Hannover Medical School; participating institutions: German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig)

The research areas involved in CRC/Transregio 83, "Molecular Architecture and Cellular Functions of Lipid/Protein Assemblies" range from biophysics and biochemistry to cell biology, immunology and virology. The focus of the research, however, will be on the role of lipids in biological membranes. In Heidelberg, Dresden and Bonn, researchers plan to analyse suitable membrane model systems with state-of-the-art methods in order to gain fundamental insight into the nature, specificity and function of protein-lipid interactions. They aim to discover and characterise previously unknown principles. (Host university: Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg; spokesperson: Professor Thomas S-llner; other universities involved with the proposal: Technical University of Dresden, Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms University, Bonn; participating institutions: The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg; Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden)

Thought-control of prostheses, optimised learning, and the realisation of modern body monitoring functions are the visions of the Kiel researchers of CRC 855, "Magnetoelectric Composites - Biomagnetic Interfaces of the Future". They seek to develop an uncooled and unshielded biomagnetic interface for medical research questions that unidirectionally records brain or heart functions via their magnetic fields. Modern magnetoelectric composites and new signal processing strategies will enable magnetoencephalography and magnetocardiography applications not possible with previous sensors. (Host university: Christian Albrechts University of Kiel; spokesperson: Professor Eckhard Quandt; participating institution: Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology, Itzehoe)

Precisely controlled communication processes within and between cells are essential for the function of an organism as a whole, as well as for the function of its various organ systems. Understanding these communication processes in the physiological and pathological immune system on a molecular level is the goal of CRC 854, "Molecular Organisation of the Cellular Communication in the Immune System". Researchers at the University of Magdeburg hope to gain deeper insight into the molecular regulation of immune processes and, at the same time, mutually benefit neurobiology and immunology. The topic of signal transmission in cells of the immune system will be considered from a new perspective using knowledge of well-studied signal transmission processes in the nerve system(Host university: Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg; spokesperson: Professor Burkhart Schraven; other university involved with the proposal: Free University in Berlin; participating institutions: Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig; Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg)

What are the causes of the success and failure of reforms? And how do interests and other reform contexts influence the outcome? These highly relevant issues are the focus of CRC 884, "The Political Economy of Reforms". Mannheim researchers with backgrounds in economics and political science will be concentrating, in particular, on reform processes in welfare states. The goal of this interdisciplinary research project is to improve the theoretical and empirical basis of quantitative research for social decision making in general and specifically, for reforms. (Host university: University of Mannheim; spokesperson: Professor Thomas K-nig; participating institution: Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim)

How are molecular and cellular mechanisms in nerve cells translated, via neuronal circuits, into higher-level brain functions? CRC 870, "Assembly and Function of Neuronal Circuits in Sensory Processing", addresses this question. The scientists in Munich plan to study neuronal circuits of various model organisms and thereby enhance the understanding of information processing in sensory systems with respect to development and plasticity. Their long-term goal is to better understand complex sensory-processing mechanisms at a neuronal-circuit level. (Host university: Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich; spokesperson: Professor Benedikt Grothe; participating institutions: Technical University of Munich; Helmholtz-Zentrum M-nchen; German Research Center for Environmental Health, Oberschlei-heim; Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Planegg)

CRC 863, "Forces in Biomolecular Systems", combines physics, biophysics, biochemistry and cell biology using both experimental and theoretical approaches. Scientists at the Technical University of Munich thereby plan to further research and calculate the forces of mechanical processes, from the individual molecule to complex biomolecular networks. They aim to establish a broad application potential for diverse areas, including nanotechnology. (Host university: Technical University of Munich; spokesperson: Professor Matthias Rief; participating institutions: Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich; Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried)

In CRC 858, "Synergetic Effects in Chemistry - From Additivity to Cooperativity", researchers at the University of M-nster (WWU) aim to establish the term cooperativity as a reaction principle in chemistry. With an interdisciplinary approach, cooperative effects are to be used to activate chemical systems. In this way, chemical reactivity can be used more efficiently, and chemical systems can be more precisely structured. (Host university: University of M-nster (WWU); spokesperson: Professor Armido Studer)

The cellular organisms of Roseobacter clade bacteria are of central importance to the material balance of the world's oceans, particularly to their carbon balance and, thus, to the ecology of the entire planet. CRC/Transregio 51, "Ecology, Physiology and Molecular Biology of the Roseobacter Clade - Towards a Systems Biology Understanding of a Globally Important Clade of Marine Bacteria", aims to study this bacteria group in greater detail. To accomplish this, scientists from Oldenburg, Braunschweig and G-ttingen with backgrounds in marine microbial ecology, bacterial physiology, chemistry, genetics and computer science, will work closely together. They plan to research the evolutionary, genetic and physiological principles comprising the secret to the success of the bacteria group at the focus of the project. (Host university: Carl von Ossietzky Univeristy of Oldenburg; spokesperson: Professor Meinhard Simon; cooperative partner: Carolo-Wilhelmina Technical University of Braunschweig; participating institutions: Georg-August-University of G-ttingen; German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures (DSMZ), Braunschweig; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig)

CRC/Transregio 75, "Drop-Dynamic Processes Under Extreme Environmental Conditions", focuses on drops, which play a central role in many areas of nature and technology, such as in the combustion chambers of rocket engines, in diesel engines and in the creation of solid particles. Researchers in Stuttgart hope to gain a deeper physical understanding of processes involving drops in extreme environments. For example, methods for the analytical and numerical description of these processes are to be demonstrated and put into practice. Emphasis is to be placed on more precisely predicting the course of the processes and obtaining a better understanding of the elementary processes, thereby allowing larger systems in nature or in technical installations to be more accurately predicted. (Host university: University of Stuttgart; spokesperson: Professor Bernhard Weigand; participating institutions: Technical University of Darmstadt; German Aerospace Center (DLR), Lampoldshausen)

Source: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


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