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DFG establishes 9 new collaborative research centers

This news release is available in German.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved the establishment of nine new Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs). This was decided by the responsible DFG Grants Committee during its fall session in Bonn. The new CRCs will receive a total of 64.4 million euros for an initial period of three years and nine months and a 20% programme allowance for indirect project costs . The new centres will focus on topics ranging from human ingestive behaviour, mathematical invariants and metal oxide-water interactions, to cardinal mechanisms of perception or forms of securitisation in a historical perspective.

Five of the nine new networks are CRC/Transregios, spread across multiple research sites. The Grants Committee also approved the extension of 23 existing CRCs for an additional funding period. As a result, the DFG will fund a total of 235 Collaborative Research Centres as of April 2014.

The new Collaborative Research Centres
(in alphabetical order by host university)

They are used in both medical implants and in surface coatings and building materials: metal oxides. They generally form from an aqueous solution and often come into contact with water in their application areas. A detailed understanding of metal oxide-water interactions, which define the oxide formation and dissolution processes, is therefore indispensable for the development of materials with the desired properties, as well as for ensuring their long-term stability. The CRC entitled "Understanding of Oxide/Water Systems at the Molecular Scale: Structural Evolution, Interfaces and Dissolution" therefore intends to examine the elementary processes surrounding the metal oxide-water interactions on all relevant length scales with a combination of chemical synthesis and highly modern experimental and theoretical methods.

(Host University: Humboldt University of Berlin, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Christian Limberg; also participating: Free University of Berlin, Technical University of Berlin, University of Potsdam, German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max Planck Society Berlin, Helmholtz Center Berlin for Materials and Energy GmbH)

It is possible to adjust measurements, forms and surface geometries of components highly stressed in industrial production in a targeted manner. To date, this has hardly been possible for material properties close to the surface, so-called fringe properties, such as residual stresses and rigidity. However, it is precisely these properties that are of decisive importance for the life span and the operating behaviour of the components, because stresses in the form of operating loads impact the component from the surface. It is therefore important to obtain a better understanding of the procedures involved in the manufacturing process that result in a change in material properties. This is the planned research area of the CRC/Transregio "Function-Oriented Manufacturing Based on Characteristic Process Signatures".

(Host University: University of Bremen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ekkard Brinksmeier; also participating: RWTH Aachen University, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, USA)

The Collaborative Research Centre "Supramolecular Chemistry on Proteins" intends to develop new molecules that, in contrast to, for example, most of the familiar active substance molecules with proteins, do not interact through bonding with small, well-defined so-called binding pockets, but rather through bonding with a non-specifically formed surface. Such large-scale interactions have to date not been adequately understood. With the help of the new molecules to be developed, the mechanisms of protein detection and the protein-protein interactions, which are of increasing interest, are to be examined. In the process, researchers will apply modern findings and methods of supramolecular chemistry to biological questions. The findings gained could contribute over the long term to new approaches for the diagnosis and therapy of diseases.

(Host University: University of Duisburg-Essen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Thomas Schrader; also participating: Technical University of Eindhoven, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology Dortmund)

The CRC/Transregio "Cardinal Mechanisms of Perception: Prediction, Valuation, Categorisation" intends to examine how the human brain derives higher meaning from sensory input signals. The research interest is thereby primarily oriented to the three principles of prediction, valuation and categorisation. These generate complex internal models of the environment, which are continuously adapted and improved upon in the brain. This makes it possible to predict the future state of the environment and the consequences of actions, evaluate the possible risks and benefits of stimuli and reactions, as well as visualise the endless amount of environmental stimuli in categories. The goal of the centre is to define these mechanisms of perception at the behavioural level, identify their foundations in the brain and mathematically model their function in order to better understand how our senses open up the window to the world for us.

(Host University: University of Giessen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Karl Reiner Gegenfurtner; also participating: University of Marburg)

An excess of high energy food, as we know it in almost every industrialised nation, encourages eating beyond our actual energy needs. This circumstance is considered one of the main causes for a dramatic increase in excess weight and obesity around the world. However, food consumption is not only determined by homoeostatic processes, with which each living organism attempts to maintain its physical condition in a healthy equilibrium. Hedonic, i.e. reward-associated, processes and the formation of habits also play a role. The CRC/Transregio "Ingestive Behaviour: Homoeostasis and Reward " will examine how the influence of these factors depend upon the individual genetic makeup and are influenced by changes in lifestyle.

(Host University: University of Lbeck, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Hendrik Lehnert; also participating: University of Cologne, University of Hamburg, Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research Cologne)

The CRC/Transregio "Dynamics of Security. Processes of Securitisation in Historical Perspective" will examine how concepts of security have developed throughout history and have found their way into the political process. This involves both how security is represented and how it is produced, two processes that condition one another, and which will be analysed by researchers from Marburg and Giessen across eras, from antiquity to the modern era. The centre will not pursue a rigid concept of security, but instead make use of the new approach of "securitisation", which expands upon the political science discourse in a historical perspective.

(Host University: University of Marburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Christoph Kampmann; also participating: University of Giessen, Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe, Institute of the Leibnitz Association, Marburg)

The CRC/Transregio "Tailored Nonlinear Photonics: From Fundamental Concepts to Functional Structures" will primarily concentrate on the physical principles and applications of non-linear light-matter interactions. One area of focus is on the linking of promising concepts from quantum optics, coherent optics and optoelectronics for the development of customised non-linear photonic structures. A variety of applications in photonic information and quantum technology is planned for these new components.

(Host University: University of Paderborn, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Artur Zrenner; also participating: Technical University of Dortmund)

When in mathematics complicated geometrical objects are assigned to simpler algebraic structures, one speaks of geometric invariants. Objects are described and classified using these invariants. New findings have changed our understanding of classical geometrical invariants in past years and shown how these can be refined to form higher invariants with technically sophisticated methods. This development is especially impelled by arithmetic geometry and global analysis. The CRC "Higher Invariants Interactions between Arithmetic Geometry and Global Analysis" will bring together researchers from both disciplines and intends to initiate a joint systematic study of higher invariants.

(Host University: University of Regensburg, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Guido Kings)

In recent years many key proteins have been identified in plant organisms that contribute significantly to plant physiology, development and adaptation to environmental factors. An important but often unanswered question is how these key proteins influence specific processes and performance factors, whether in the nucleus, in the cytoplasm, in the cell membrane or in cell-cell communication. These processes will be examined by a new Collaborative Research Centre in Tbingen with the title "Molecular Encoding of Specificity in Plant Processes". The encoding of specificity will be researched at entirely different levels, for example, on the basis of the structural changes to individual molecules and proteins, or the specific congregation of several molecules into complexes.

(Host University: University of Tbingen, Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Klaus Harter; also participating: University of Heidelberg, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society Tbingen, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology Tbingen, Chemical Genomics Centre of the Max Planck Society Tbingen)


Contact: Marco Finetti
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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