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Source: German Research Foundation Topics from multiple competition in the university system to gender-specific differences in immune responses / A total of around 25 million euros for the first funding period

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is setting up seven new research groups. This was decided by the main committee of the DFG on the recommendation of the Senate. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the committee meetings of the DFG took place in virtual form. The new research groups will receive a total of around 25 million euros including a 22 percent program flat rate for indirect costs from the projects. The funding period of the associations depends on the time at which the first sketch for a funding application was submitted. Research groups whose draft proposals have been submitted since October 1, 2018 will be funded for a maximum of two times for four years; this applies to five of the newly established research groups. The two other networks are based on draft proposals that were received before October 1, 2018; they are funded for two times three years. In addition to the seven institutions, it was decided to extend five research groups for a second funding period. Research groups enable scientists to devote themselves to current and pressing issues in their specialist areas and to establish innovative fields of work. Overall, the DFG is currently funding 162 research groups, 13 clinical research groups and 16 college research groups. Clinical research groups are also characterized by the close connection between scientific and clinical work, while college research groups are specially tailored to forms of work in the humanities and social sciences. The seven new groups in detail (in alphabetical order of the speakers’ universities) If materials such as fillings or crowns remain stable over the long term, even under daily stress, they must be in close contact with the remaining healthy tooth tissue. The medical and materials science research group “The Materials Science of Teeth in Function: Principles of Durable, Dynamic Dental Interphases” is therefore systematically researching the interfaces between tooth replacement material and tooth tissue. With this, she wants to pave the way for even more resilient dentures. (Speaker: Dr. Paul Zaslansky, Charité – FU Berlin and HU Berlin) During the coronavirus pandemic, but also in the face of demographic change, various questions arise about the quality of life: What makes a good life? What standards should apply to ensure or create a good life? What influence do new medical possibilities have on the temporality and planning of our lives? How are these possibilities to be assessed ethically? The research group “Medicine and the Time Structure of the Good Life” is investigating these and other questions. The researchers from philosophy, medicine, medical ethics as well as from social and cultural sciences want to develop an ethically reflected understanding of the temporal conditions of a good life. (Spokeswoman: Professor Dr. Claudia Wiesemann, University of Göttingen) It is known that the immune response to pathogens and the course of infectious, autoimmune and tumor diseases differ in women and men. However, the underlying biological mechanisms have not yet been systematically investigated. The research group “Gender-Specific Differences in Immune Responses” aims to identify the mechanisms by which sex hormones and genes on the X chromosome influence gender differences in the immune response. (Speaker: Professor Dr. Marcus Altfeld, University of Hamburg) So-called cytochalasans are natural substances that are produced by fungi and that cause different effects on the cellular level of other organisms. Hundreds of different cytochalasans are known, but systematic studies of their respective modes of action have so far been lacking. With the help of synthetic chemistry and synthetic biology, the research group “CytoLabs – Systematic investigation and exploitation of cytochalasans” wants to produce known and new cytochalasans. In addition, chemical modifications are to be incorporated in order to generate molecular tools from the natural substances. These are to be brought together in a substance library. (Speaker: Professor Dr. Russell J. Cox, University of Hanover) In the science system, the actors are involved in diverse and interconnected competitions. This creates a complex network of requirements to which the various actors are exposed. The research group “Multiple competition in the higher education system: actor constitution, action coordination and consequences” wants to investigate this multifaceted competition by means of sociological and economic approaches. It should be clarified, for example, which dynamics the competition unfolds at the different levels of the university system and which consequences it has. (Speaker: Professor Dr. Georg Krücken, University of Kassel) The aim of the research group “Energy Landscapes and Structure in Ion-Conducting Solids (ELSICS)” is to elucidate the energy distribution of ion sites in solids with regard to their transport properties. The underlying questions, namely the link between the energy landscape of solid materials, their structure on the atomic scale and the dynamics of ion transport, are of great importance in chemistry and physics. The group directs the focus of its work on two material classes: alkali ion-based materials, which are important for energy storage, for example, and perovskite materials, which are used, among other things, for fuel cells. (Speaker: Professor Dr. Karl-Michael Weitzel, University of Marburg) On many coasts of the world, groundwater flows underground into the sea, whereby fresh water and circulating sea water mix. Biogeochemical reactions take place at these points – especially on beaches with high tidal, wind and wave dynamics – complex processes of conversion and binding of organic substances and metals by the microorganisms living there. So far it is unclear how these processes take place and what role they play as a bioreactor for global material cycles. The research group “Dynamics of the deep subsurface of high-energy beaches (DynaDeep)” wants to analyze the biogeochemical processes and assess their effects on the coastal ecosystems and the material cycles. This is to be done initially by setting up a field laboratory on the island of Spiekeroog. (Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Gudrun Massmann, University of Oldenburg) The five associations extended for a second funding period (in alphabetical order of the universities of the speakers and with references to the project descriptions in the DFG internet database GEPRIS on ongoing funding): Further information The spokespersons of the alliances can also provide detailed information. Contact person at the DFG Head Office: About the DFG research groups:


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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