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DFG Establishes Seven New Research Training Groups

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing seven new Research Training Groups.

These will give doctoral students additional opportunities to work towards their doctorates in structured research programmes with a high level of subject specialisation. The newly established Research Training Groups will address topics such as AIDS research, the comparison of social orders at an international level, and production optimisation.

Other topics include the semantic integration of geographic information and the improvement of the interaction between electrical implants and the human body. Three of the newly established groups are International Research Training Groups, in which the funding-recipients cooperate directly with international research partners.

The Grants Committee for Research Training Groups decided to establish the new Research Training Groups at its spring meeting in Bonn. The seven new groups will commence their work in the course of 2008 or in early 2009. They will initially receive funding for four and a half years, receiving a total of €21.6 million. Three of them are International Research Training Groups, which are co-financed by the international partners.

In addition to establishing the seven new groups, the Grants Committee also approved the continuation of seven existing Research Training Groups for another funding period. This brings the number of Research Training Groups funded by the DFG to a total of 248, including 58 International Research Training Groups.

The Grants Committee also agreed a number of important changes for applicants. The deadlines for submitting proposals for new Research Training Groups have been abolished with immediate effect. This means that, as with draft proposals, which are submitted in the first stage of the proposal process, the establishment proposal, which represents the second stage of the proposal process for Research Training Groups, can now be submitted at any time. In addition to this, universities will in future be able to apply at their own discretion for the so-called “coordination funds” for general administrative work.

The new Research Training Groups (listed in alphabetical order by host university):

How can product development from a virtual prototype through to the finished production model be implemented as fast and cost-effectively as possible? Optimisation of the production process is an important challenge, especially for suppliers to the automobile industry. The Research Training Group “Ramp-up Management” aims to use an interdisciplinary decision model to eliminate the shortcomings that have existed up to now in decision-making theory associated with the production ramp-up. This will serve as a foundation for the students’ scientific specialisation in engineering and economics. The decision model will also assist companies in orienting themselves and setting their course for the future. (RWTH Aachen. Coordinator: Professor Dr. Eng. Robert Schmitt)

Cardiovascular diseases are affecting more and more people and are thus having an increasing impact on the health economy. Against this backdrop, the International Research Training Group “Arterial Restructuring Processes” will concentrate on the biological and physiological causes of such diseases. Topics it will address include arteriosclerosis and other arterial restructuring processes and the associated symptoms such as inflammation. The group aims to identify new cellular and molecular target structures and thus develop new approaches for interdisciplinary vascular research. The RWTH Aachen will be looking for new findings in cooperation with its “Euregio” neighbour, the University of Maastricht. (RWTH Aachen. Coordinator: Professor Dr. Christian Weber. Cooperation partner: University of Maastricht, the Netherlands)

The simulation of production processes is essential for modern business. Simulations of the individual steps of a production process is nothing new; however, simulation of the linking of such steps into a process chain is quite novel. The Research Training Group “Process Chains in Production – Interaction, Modelling and Evaluation of Process Zones” will spend the next four and a half years studying this task. This Research Training Group is part of the interdisciplinary research and development field of “Computational Engineering – Materials Science – Industrial Engineering” and aims to enable doctoral students to optimise production processes through their research. In doing so, it will combine the technical and scientific strengths of a university and a technical college. The University of Applied Sciences in Karlsruhe is only the second technical college ever to participate in a Research Training Group. (University of Karlsruhe. Coordinator: Professor Dr. Britta Nestler)

The Research Training Group “International Comparison of Social Orders and Life Chances” will take an innovative approach to multilevel analysis. Many international comparisons in the social sciences and economics typically consider either the people in several countries or global indicators for countries. Since these approaches throw up a variety of problems, this Research Training Group proposes to combine the two approaches in a new way. It will look at the impact of life chances on the attitudes and actions of natural and corporate actors in the context of the social order as determined by the politics, business, civil society and culture of different countries. (University of Cologne. Coordinator: Professor Dr. Heiner Meulemann)

The International Research Training Group “Semantic Integration of Spatial Information” will study the problems that arise when geographic information from sources of varying ages and from different cultures are integrated in order to discuss and support decisions relating to the human environment. The Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster and the University of Bremen will cooperate with the University at Buffalo to find solutions to these problems of semantic integration that are susceptible to computationally intensive control. To accomplish this, new transdisciplinary courses will cooperate to accelerate progress in semantic modelling, information procurement and semantic translation and to develop information processing systems. (Westphalian Wilhelms University, Münster. Coordinator: Professor Dr. Werner Kuhn; University of Bremen. Cooperation partners: University at Buffalo, USA)

Technical systems for supporting bodily functions that have been impaired by illness, accident or old age are already in widespread use and are very successful. The Research Training Group “Analysis and Simulation of Electrical Interactions between Implants and Biological Systems” will focus on improving the functionality, increasing the compatibility and extending the lifetime of implants. A thorough understanding of the processes occurring at the interface between the implant and the surrounding tissue is particularly important. Researchers from medicine, biology, computer science and electrical engineering will work together in this Research Training Group. (University of Rostock. Coordinator: Professor Dr. Ursula van Rienen)

Würzburg and South Africa will cooperate closely in the battle against deadly infectious diseases over the next four and a half years. The International Research Training Group “HIV/AIDS and Associated Infectious Diseases in Southern Africa” will enable fruitful synergies between these two prominent partners in biomedical research. The programme allows for work with clinical material and analytical methods so that the partners’ strengths complement each other reciprocally. This will also train young researchers and scientists both in basic research and in medical/clinical research into key infectious diseases. (Bavarian Julius Maximilian University Würzburg. Coordinator: Professor Dr. Axel Rethwilm. Cooperation partners: University of Cape Town, South Africa; University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)

Jutta Hoehn | alfa
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