DFG to set up new clinical and research units

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is setting up three new Research Units and one new Clinical Research Unit.

This decision was made by the DFG's Joint Committee at the recommendation of the Senate. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the committee meetings originally scheduled for the end of March could not be held in the usual way, so the decisions were made using a staggered written procedure.

The new collaborations will receive a total of approximately €17 million including a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. The maximum funding duration for Research Units whose draft proposals were submitted after 1 October 2018 is two four-year periods.

This applies to two of the newly established Research Units. Proposals based on drafts received before 1 October 2018 will be funded for two three-year periods.

In addition to the four new groups, the Committee also approved extending eight Research Units for a second funding period. Research Units enable researchers to pursue current and pressing issues in their research areas and to take innovative directions in their work. Clinical Research Units are also characterised by the close connection between research and clinical work. With today's decisions, the DFG is now funding 159 Research Units and 18 Clinical Research Units.

The four new research collaborations
(in alphabetical order by spokesperson's university)

In the Research Unit "Algorithms, Dynamics and Information Flow in Networks", researchers in computer science and mathematics will investigate the fundamentals of networks. They will analyse real-world and virtual networks, including infection processes, computer networks and social networks on the internet.

The focus will be on the mathematical analysis and modelling of networks with the aim of better understanding unanswered questions relating to the dynamics and algorithmic controllability of networks. This will enable the transition from mathematical foundations to the use of efficient algorithms and models. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Martin Hoefer, Goethe University Frankfurt)

Patients with pancreatic cancer have a very low chance of survival as the tumour grows aggressively into surrounding tissue, quickly metastasizes and is largely resistant to currently available treatments. Tumours are also very diverse both molecularly and phenotypically, such that pancreatic cancers are classified into subtypes. However, not all of these subtypes are yet known and only a few have been studied.

The aim of the Clinical Research Unit

Deciphering Genome Dynamics for Subtype-Specific Therapy in Pancreatic Cancer"

Dr. Volker Ellenrieder, Professor, University of Gottingen

Head: PD Dr. Elisabeth Hessmann, University of Göttingen is to analyze further subtypes by investigating the genome dynamics of the cancer, thus contributing to the development of individualized treatments.

SLC26 anion transporters are responsible for transporting anions through cell membranes, which gives them an essential role in maintaining an organism's electrolyte and water levels. Malfunctions in some of these transporters can result in serious conditions in humans, such as skeletal malformation, brain oedema and deafness.

The Research Unit "Integrated Analysis of Epithelial SLC26 Anion Transporters - From Molecular Structure to Pathophysiology" will investigate the still poorly understood functional principles of these transporters, their regulation and their role in cell and organ physiology.

This was not possible in the past since the necessary technical methods were not yet available, particularly techniques to determine the atomic molecular structure of SLC proteins. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dominik Oliver, University of Marburg)

The Research Unit "Being Catholic in the German Federal Republic. Semantics, Practices and Emotions in Western Germany's Society 1965-1989/90" will focus on a period that has already been extensively studied by contemporary historians, but has received little attention with regard to church history apart from a small number of studies.

How did "being Catholic" contribute to the shaping of post-modernism between the Second Vatican Council and German reunification? In answering this question, the researchers will look not at the internal history of a social milieu but rather at religious-cultural dynamics in the wider society.

The research team aims to investigate this process on the basis of semantics, practices and emotions and thus identify the interactions between religious and societal history. (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Andreas Holzem, University of Tübingen)


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