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DFG Establishes Eight New Collaborative Research Centres

On 01 July 2008, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will establish eight new Collaborative Research Centres (CRC). These will be funded initially for four years with a total of 59.5 million euros. In addition, there will be a 20 percent programme lump sum for each one for indirect costs resulting from the research projects.

The themes of the newly approved Collaborative Research Centres include the development of innovative spaceship drive systems, overcoming treatment resistance in tumours and tackling anxiety disorders affecting humans. Further topics include studies in the field of hadron physics and research into molecular components at the nano-level. Five of the eight new establishments are CRC/Transregional CRCs, which are spread across several research sites.

As well as these facilities, the DFG Grants Committee responsible also voted at its spring session in Bonn for the continuation of 28 Collaborative Research Centres for a further funding period. This means that the DFG will in future be funding a total of 267 Collaborative Research Centres.

The new Collaborative Research Centres in detail:
(alphabetically by host university)
Mass transport and information transfer across cellular membranes are inextricably linked to fundamental life processes. This is why membranes are equipped with an abundance of membrane proteins, which control and regulate these functions. Malfunctions in the control of transport and receptor proteins are responsible for a wide range of diseases occurring in human beings and are one of the most important approaches for medical treatments. The CRC 807 "Transport and communication through biological membranes" intends to understand the precise structures, mechanisms and functions of membrane proteins and thereby create, among other things, the foundations for new therapeutic possibilities. (Host university: Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Coordinator: Professor Robert Tampé)

In order to permanently reduce the demand for energy and resources, researchers from Freiberg want to develop higher-performance materials and manufacturing methods that are at the same time more energy-efficient and more efficient in terms of material usage. The CRC 799 "TRIP Matrix Composite Design of durable, conversion-reinforced composite materials and structures based on Fe-ZrO2" is focussed mainly on the innovative combination of materials with naturally occurring functions as a model for technological development. The intention here is to create a new class of extremely lightweight high-performance composite materials. (Host university: , Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, Coordinator: Professor Horst Biermann)

Challenges of space travel are central to CRC/Transregional CRC 40 "Technological foundations for the design of thermally and mechanically highly stressed components of future space transport systems". In this Centre, researchers from Munich, Aachen, Braunschweig and Stuttgart are concentrating on the most severely stressed components of rocket-powered space transporters. The main parts that are exposed to large forces and high temperatures are the combustion chamber, propelling nozzle, rear section and cooling system. In the Collaborative Research Centre novel types of nozzle, fuels and cooling methods are to be developed and their complex interactions optimised. (Host university: TU Munich, Coordinator: Professor Nikolaus Andreas Adams)

Fear and anxiety, two fundamental and, in evolutionary terms, old emotions are central to CRC/Transregional CRC 58 "Fear, anxiety and anxiety disorders", which are found ever more frequently in humans in the form of disproportionate, pathological anxiety states such as panic attacks or phobias. Scientists from Münster, Würzburg, Hamburg and Mainz intend to investigate how these emotions and their pathological effects arise on a broad and overarching basis from genes via cells and the "nerve cell circuitry" up to the behavioural level, or from the animal model right up to the patient. (Host university: WWU Münster, Coordinator: Professor Hans-Christian Pape)

With the formation of CRC/Transregional CRC 61 "Multilevel Molecular Assemblies – Structure, Dynamics and Functions", international scientific cooperation is being put on a completely new footing. Within the first Chinese-German CRC/Transregional CRC, scientists from the fields of physics, chemistry and biology in Beijing and Münster are jointly researching the properties and functions of molecular aggregates on the nanometre scale. This research effort is inspired by biological systems and their fascinating properties in the organisation of structures. Based on a joint agreement with the Chinese funding organisation National Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the Chinese groups are funded by the NSFC, the Münster scientists for their part by the DFG. (Host university: WWU Münster, additional applicant university: Tsinghua University Beijing, Coordinator: Professor Harald Fuchs and Professor Zhang Xi)

Researchers in the CRC/Transregional CRC 55 "Hadron physics with lattice-QCD" plan to use quantum chromodynamics, probably the most technically complex quantum field theory, to achieve new, internationally significant discoveries in hadron physics. Their goal is to be able to make precise predictions for current and future experiments researching the structure of matter. A particular challenge is posed by the implementation of the computing requirements necessary for these experiments, which will also be undertaken jointly with industry within the unit. The participating universities are in Regensburg and Wuppertal, with scientists from Graz and Bern also being involved. (Host university: University of Regensburg, Coordinator: Professor Andreas Schäfer)

CRC 773 "Treatment resistance in solid tumours and its elimination" will be investigating the molecular foundations of the formation of resistance by solid tumours to radiotherapy and chaemotherapy, in order to facilitate more efficient approaches to the elimination of treatment-resistant tumours. The main focus areas are the understanding of signal paths, cell death mechanisms and the importance of tumour stem cells in overcoming treatment resistance. (Host university: Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Coordinator: Professor Sebastian Wesselborg)

The CRC/Transregional CRC 52 "Transcriptional programming of individual T-cell populations" deals with the question: How does genetic control development into a specialised T-cell? In this area the CRC intends to work out new results on the function of the T-cell, which belongs to the immune system of the human body in the form of a white blood cell. The specialist knowledge of laboratories from Würzburg, Mainz and Berlin is brought together in this centre, in order to support long-term development of new treatments for common immune system diseases. (Host university: Julius-Maximilian University Wurzburg, Coordinator: Professor Edgar Serfling)

Jutta Hoehn | alfa
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