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DFG To Establish Ten New Collaborative Research Centres

The Topics Range from Inflammation of the Brain, to the Distribution of Oxygen in the Oceans, to Nanoscopic Structures in the Macroscopic World

On 1 January 2008 the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will establish ten new Collaborative Research Centres, which will receive a total of 74.4 million euros in funding over the next four years, as well as a lump sum of 20 percent to cover indirect costs incurred by the projects.

The new Collaborative Research Centres (SFBs) will address a range of topics, including inflammation of the brain, the distribution of oxygen in tropical oceans, and nanoscopic structures in the macroscopic world. Other topics will include the neurobiological basis for behaviour, managing cycles in innovation processes, and the development of high brilliance lasers and other novel components. Two of the ten newly established Collaborative Research Centres are Transregional Collaborative Research Centres, which are based at more than one location.

At its meeting in Bonn on 20-21 November, the relevant Grants Committee also approved the continuation of 26 existing SFBs for an additional funding period. The DFG will thus fund a total of 259 Collaborative Research Centres as of the beginning of next year. In total, they will receive 403 million euros in funding in 2008, plus the 20 percent programme overhead.

The new Collaborative Research Centres:

“The Brain as a Target of Inflammatory Processes” is the topic of SFB/Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 43, which will involve scientists from Berlin and Göttingen. Research will focus on inflammatory and immune reactions in the brain, an area that has received less attention in the past than research focussing on inflammatory processes outside the brain. The projects they plan include an attempt to find out what role inflammation plays in traumatic and neurodegenerative processes. Their main focus will be on diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. They hope that their insights will find their way into clinical practice and therapy in the long term.

(Host institutions: Charité – University Hospital of the Humboldt University Berlin and the Free University of Berlin. Coordinator: Frauke Zipp)

SFB/Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 54 “Growth and Survival, Plasticity and Cellular Interactivity of Lymphatic Malignancies” will study how cancer cells adapt to their surroundings in patients suffering from diseases of the lymph nodes, thus possibly making it harder or even impossible for them to recover. Participating researchers from Berlin and Munich will combine animal experiments and patient-oriented projects aimed at developing novel therapeutic approaches to diseases such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myelomas and other malignant diseases of the lymphatic system. (Host institution: Charité – University Hospital of the Humboldt University Berlin and the Free University of Berlin. Coordinator: Bernd Dörken)

SFB 754 “Climate – Biogeochemistry Interactions in the Tropical Oceans” will examine a topic that is of great interest in the light of climate change. It will involve oceanographers, geoscientists and microbiologists from Kiel, who will study the distribution of oxygen in tropical oceans. Of particular interest to them is how the oxygen concentration can fall dramatically due to interactions between physical, biological and geochemical processes, and what consequences this has on the nutrient balance in the ocean and on the climate. This research will be carried out with the help of the German research vessels Meteor, Merian and Sonne. (Host university: Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel. Coordinator: Douglas W.R. Wallace)

Surface physics, magnetism, semiconductor physics, materials science and theoretical physics are the common elements of SFB 762 “Functionality of Oxidic Interfaces”. The researchers involved, from Halle, Leipzig and Magdeburg, will investigate the production of oxide heterostructures and the characterisation of their structural, ferroelectric, magnetic and electronic properties using state-of-the-art scientific methods and equipment. In addition to producing new fundamental insights, this work is also of high practical relevance, for instance for the development of new types of sensors and computer memory. (Host university: Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. Coordinator: Ingrid Mertig)

SFB 765 “Multivalency as a Chemical Organisation and Action Principle: New Architectures, Functions and Applications” aims to lay the necessary groundwork for answering key issues in biological and material sciences. In this SFB, scientists from the Free University of Berlin plan to cooperate with other institutions in Berlin to study the phenomenon of multivalency in detail, paying particular attention to the fundamental chemical and biological mechanisms and molecular architectures. In the long term, they hope their work will lead to the development of novel multivalent molecules that may be of great importance for use in inhibiting inflammation or providing protection against viral infections, as well as for optimising surfaces. (Host university: Free University of Berlin. Coordinator: Rainer Haag)

SFB 767 “Controlled Nanosystems: Interaction and Interfacing to the Macroscale” will investigate one of the key areas of research in the 21st century. Participating researchers from Constance and Stuttgart aim to discover how nanostructures interact with each other and with macroscopic structures – issues that are of fundamental importance for nanotechnology, but which have not yet been systematically addressed. The theoretical and experimental studies they plan promise to not only yield key insights into the basic science of nanostructures, but also a wide variety of applications in the fields of telecommunications and data storage as well as for highly integrated circuits. (Host university: University of Konstanz. Coordinator: Elke Scheer)

SFB 768 “Managing Cycles in Innovation Processes – Integrated Development of Product Service Systems Based on Technical Products” will address a topic that is of equal importance to science, industry and consumers. In this SFB, mechanical engineers, computer scientists and sociologists as well as researchers from marketing and other areas will collaborate to study the cycles that are affected by technical, competitive and social influences, which have a major influence on the development and introduction to market of innovative products and services, sometimes in a very negative way. The projects they have planned cover the entire spectrum of cyclic processes of innovation, from product planning through to marketing, and from tangible goods to services, for the first time. Vendors and customers alike will benefit from their findings. (Host university: Technical University of Munich. Coordinator: Udo Lindemann)

SFB 779 will examine the “Neurobiology of Motivated Behaviour”. Researchers will aim to identify the connection between deliberate actions, the brain structures and neural interconnections on which these actions are based, and the neurochemistry involved. The main focus will also be on pathological changes that occur in the course of various neuropsychiatric diseases. Participating scientists from Magdeburg and Leipzig will use a combination of approaches at various levels in their human and animal experiments, ranging from molecular biology to neurophysiology and psychology. They will begin by concentrating on fundamental questions about actions motivated by “how and why”, which, in the longer term, may lead to important clinical applications. (Host university: Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg. Coordinator: Thomas F. Münte)

“Synaptic Mechanisms of Neuronal Network Function” is the subject of SFB 780, which will address key issues relating to the functioning of neuronal networks, examining them at three different levels – the structural aspects of individual synapses, analysis of functional networks, and modelling and analysis of human diseases. The researchers, from Freiburg and Basel, will use approaches from molecular biology, neurophysiology, genetics, anatomy and clinical medicine to investigate these issues. They hope that their findings will lead to a better understanding and more effective therapy of neuronal diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. (Host university: Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg. Coordinator: Peter Jonas)

SFB 787 “Semiconductors – Nanophotonics: Materials, Models, Components” aims to develop novel photonic and nanophotonic components from a variety of materials. The researchers, from Berlin and Magdeburg, will combine three complementary areas of research: material science, modelling, and production and characterisation of components. This will allow theoreticians and experimental researchers to collaborate closely in basic and applied areas. Working on this basis, they hope, in the long term, to be able to generate very high frequency and ultrashort pulses with laser diodes and semiconductor amplifiers as well as high brilliance lasers in the infra-red to green spectral range. (Host university: Technical University of Berlin. Coordinator: Michael Kneissl)

Jutta Höhn | alfa
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