Six new research units, new clinical research


The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is setting up six new research units, a new clinical research unit and a new center for advanced studies in the humanities and social sciences. This was decided by the DFG Joint Committee during its virtual meeting on September 23, 2021 on the recommendation of the Senate. The new research units will receive total funding of around € 31.4 million, including a 22 percent program allocation for indirect project costs.

The duration of funding for these consortia is based on the date the first draft of a funding proposal was submitted. Research units that submitted their draft proposals after October 1, 2018 will be funded for a maximum of two four-year periods; this applies to all newly created research units. In addition to the ten establishments, it was decided to renew six Research Units for an additional funding period, including one funded within the framework of the DA-CH cooperation with the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR). Extended consortia will receive funding for a period of three years – in one case two years.

Research units allow researchers to explore current and pressing questions in their fields of research and to take innovative directions in their work. With these new additions, the DFG is currently funding 176 research units, 15 clinical research units and 13 centers for advanced studies in the humanities and social sciences. The clinical research units are further characterized by their close link between research and clinical work, while the advanced study centers are specifically adapted to work in the humanities and social sciences.

The eight new consortia in detail
(in alphabetical order of HEIs of spokespersons)

Two-dimensional materials and their heterostructures, which exhibit unusual and novel electronic properties, are currently the subject of research around the world. The Research Unit “Correlation effects induced by proximity in low dimensional systems” focuses on a prototypical 2D heterosystem: epitaxial graphene – atomically thin carbon layers – on the semiconductor material silicon carbide. Researchers now aim to study the correlation effects that occur in this material system and selectively manipulate them to lay the groundwork for new quantum materials with personalized properties. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christoph Tegenkamp, ​​TU Chemnitz)

The Research Unit “Alternative rationalities and esoteric practices in a global perspective” seeks to systematically compare the strategies of interpretation, rationalization and legitimation of esoteric practices. The aim is to find out why they are still successful today in different cultural and regional contexts. In the medium term, it is a question of developing a cultural theory of esoteric practices in order to explain their resilience and their typological similarity through a large number of case studies, as well as their varying appreciation according to the cultural context. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Michael Schmidt, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

“Spiritual intermediality at the beginning of the modern period” is the subject of the Research Unit of the same name: it will focus on the forms of representation and dissemination of religious content, practices and intentions from the 16th to the beginning of the 18th century. The concept of intermediality – which has so far been mainly applied in relation to contemporary media such as cinema and the Internet – needs to be transferred to the analysis of pre-modern contexts. This method will be used to analyze religious print media, images and music as interactive media as well as a means of examining their use in the context of the history of religions. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Johann Anselm Steiger, University of Hamburg)

The common axis of the Clinical Research Unit “GET IT ALL Towards a cure for adults and children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)” is to study the mechanisms that lead to the development of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in different age groups. In addition, it will be a question of studying the role of the immune system in the development of this disease. The long-term objective of CRU is to develop novel and personalized immunotherapy approaches for clinical application. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Claudia Baldus, University of Kiel; Clinical Director: Professor Dr. Denis Schewe, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein).

Researchers from the fields of historical linguistics and psycholinguistics will collaborate within the Research Unit “Structuring the entry into the processing, acquisition and change of language (SILPAC)”. They aim to provide an empirically and theoretically sound explanation of the relationships between language processing, language acquisition, and language change. To do this, they will analyze historical texts and conduct laboratory experiments. In this way, they will seek to study how linguistic innovations spread and how linguistic contacts are relevant in terms of linguistic rule changes. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Carola Trips, University of Mannheim)

Nowadays, ultrasonic sensors are mainly made using computer technology. One of the biggest problems is that little is known about the acoustic and electromechanical properties of the materials used – the so-called piezoceramic materials. For this reason, the Research Unit “Model-Based Determination of Nonlinear Properties of Piezoelectric Ceramics for High Power Ultrasonic Applications (NEPTUN)” will seek to develop measurement and measurement systems to be able to analyze the behavior of materials. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr.-Ing. Bernd Henning, University of Paderborn)

Plants use reservoirs of stem cells located in specific parts of the plant’s body – the meristems – to fuel their growth above and below soil and to adapt to their environment. These meristems not only contain the plan of the plant, they also essentially determine the productivity and yield of the crops. However, the meristems of corn, wheat, rice and barley are very complex and have not been thoroughly researched to date. For this reason, the Research Unit “Cereal stem cell systems (CSCS): establishment, maintenance and termination” will study gene signaling and regulatory networks in the meristems of various cereal species. In doing so, the consortium hopes to discover new stem cell genes that could be used to improve cultures. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Thomas Dresselhaus, University of Regensburg)

In the Standard Model of Elementary Particle Physics, Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) describes the nuclear force that binds the fundamental constituents of matter inside hadrons. Hadrons include protons and neutrons – the building blocks of atomic nuclei. The theory also includes quarks, the building blocks of hadrons, which have never been directly observed in experiments (confinement). A key role seems to be played by gluons, elementary particles which mediate force between quarks. The nature of the confinement and the physical properties of the confined gluons will be explored in more detail by the Research Unit. “Future methods of studying confined gluons in QCD”. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Francesco Knechtli, University of Wuppertal)

The six research collaborations extended for a second funding period
(in alphabetical order of the HEIs of the spokespersons and with references to the project descriptions in GEPRIS – the DFG’s internet database for ongoing funding):

UK “Quasi-Real-Time Quantitative Precipitation Estimation and Prediction (RealPEP)” (spokesperson: PD Dr. Silke Trömel, University of Bonn),

RU “Evolutionary gas phase synthesis based on a model of complex nanoparticles ” (spokesperson: Professor Dr. Christof Schulz, University of Duisburg-Essen),

UK “Translational research on pruritus” (spokesperson: Professor Dr. Martin Schmelz, University of Heidelberg),

UK “Inositol and myo-inositol phosphates in domestic poultry: Explore the interface of genetics, physiology, microbiome and nutrition “ (spokesperson: Professor Dr. Markus Rodehutscord, University of Hohenheim),

UK “The autotrophy-heterotrophy switch in cyanobacteria: Consistent decision making at multiple regulatory levels ” (spokesperson: Professor Dr. Karl Forchhammer, University of Tübingen),

UK “Epileptogenesis of genetic epilepsies” (spokesperson: Professor Dr. Holger Lerche, University of Tübingen),

This Research Unit is funded under the lead agreement with the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).

Further information

Media contact:

DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2109, [email protected]

Team spokespersons can also provide detailed information.

Contact at DFG head office:

Ursula Rogmans-Beucher, Quality and Program Management, Tel. +49 228 885-2726,

[email protected]

Links to DFG research units:

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