DFG to set up 21 new collaborative research centres in 2000

December 06, 1999

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will set up 21 new collaborative research centres for 1 January 2000. This decision was taken by the responsible grants committee at its autumn meeting. At the end of 1999, grants for 19 collaborative research centres will be terminated. From January 2000, the DFG will be promoting a total of 285 collaborative research centres in 59 universities, for which DM 631 Million are available. Three of the new collaborative research centres will be in the Cultural Sciences, eight in Biology/Medicine, and five each in the Natural and Engineering Sciences. The number of initiatives for the collaborative-research-centres programme remains as high as ever. More competition means that a growing number of applications for the institution of collaborative research centres are being rejected, in all 10 from the last 31. Equally stringent criteria are also being applied to extending the duration of promotion for existing collaborative research centres.

Collaborative research centres are normally designed to run for 12 years, and so to enable the universities to conduct more expensive, long-term research projects with regular and rigorous appraisal. The participating scientists are able to co-operate with non-university institutions and also with industry.

Cultural Sciences

The collaborative research centre „Standard and Symbol. The Cultural Dimension of Social and Political Integration" at Constance University is to be promoted in the form of a cultural-scientific research unit. Its aim is to examine processes of social and political integration. The participants will be concentrating on the significance of standards for the formation of patterns of social order, and on the forms of symbolic representation of the social sense. This research has been conceived as a contribution to the acquisition of information on the degree to which social integration is subject to processes, the identification of group-formation and exclusion processes, and to the ability of a society to deal with conflicts. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Rudolf Schlögl, Philosophische Facultat, Fachgruppe Geschichte, tel.: 07531/88 2488

The "Functions of Religion in Classical Societies of the Near East" is the title of a new collaborative research centre at Munster University in which the fundamental aspects of the interaction between religion and society are to be elucidated. On the one hand, how does religion influence the other areas of society and, on the other, how do societal structures and demands impact on religious behaviour, speech and thought? Speaker: Prof. Dr. Rainer Albertz, Alttestamentliches Seminar, tel.: 0251/83 22512/13

Symbolic acts and ritualised, traditional or ceremonial forms are the tools of politics and the law, religion and everyday life. The new collaborative research centre "Symbolic Communication and Societal Systems of Values from Mediaeval Times to the French Revolution" at Munster University aims to research the special characteristics of mediaeval and early modern forms of symbolic communication. This will involve probing deeper into the question of the role played by symbolic communication in the establishment and maintenance of societal order and in the harmonisation of the views held by a society on its systems of values. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Gerd Althoff, Historisches Seminar, tel.: 0251/83 24341.

Biology and Medicine

Cells are enclosed in a protective membrane. Proteins, which are seated either in or on this membrane, are important molecular switching points. They control the transport of substances and signals over this barrier and so provide a natural mode of cell regulation. The collaborative research centre "Regulatory Membrane Proteins. From the Mechanism of Identification to the Pharmacological Target Structure" at Würzburg University is to investigate these switching points. As potential pharmacological target structures, they are also of interest for medicinal therapy. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Martin Lohse, Institut fur Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, tel.: 0931/201 5401

The collaborative research centre "Basic Molecular and Cellular Principles of Neural Development Processes" at Heidelberg University is devoted to investigating the development of brain structures and functions. The most important genes involved in the development of the nervous system should soon be known. The challenge to molecular neurobiologists lies in elucidating the interrelationship between molecules in their functional network. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Klaus Unsicker, Institut fur Anatomie und Zellbiologie, tel.: 06221/54 8228/8227

Chronic infectious diseases are acquiring increasing importance in the medical field. Pathogens are able to evade the immunological defences of the affected host, thus becoming inaccessible to many therapies. The purpose of the collaborative research centre "Invasion and Persistence in Infections" at Mainz University is to conduct an investigation at the molecular-biological level to discover which mechanisms, viruses, bacteria and protozoa permit evasion of the immunological defences. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Sucharit Bhakddi, Institut fur Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, tel.: 06131/177341

Interactions between cells and their enveloping extracellular matrix play a vital role in triggering the differentiation, regeneration and apoptosis of cells. At the same time, this matrix also influences the morphogenesis of organs and the functioning of the locomotor system. Hence research into the extracellular matrix makes an essential contribution to understanding the molecular biology and pathology of inflammatory and degenerative diseases. The collaborative research centre „Extracellular Matrix: Biogenesis, Assembly and Cellular Interactions" at Münster University aims to examine the differences and similarities found in the construction of diverse matrix structures with a view to understanding the importance of differentiated matrices for morphogenesis and specialised metabolic regulation. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hans Kresse, Institut fur Physiologische Chemie und Pathobiochemie, tel.: 0251/83 55581

The collaborative research centre "Topology and Dynamics of Signal Processes" at Stuttgart University is concerned with presenting the temporal and spatial pattern of signal generation and onward transmission. How do the individual signal components in the cell, the organ and, finally, in the organism as a whole, co-operate? As it is just some of the important signal paths in particular that have been conserved beyond interspecific boundaries, the scientists are aiming to scrutinise very diverse signal paths ranging from those found in bacteria right up to those present in the transgenic mouse. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Klaus Pfizenmaier, Institut fur Zellbiologie und Immunologie, tel.: 0711/685 6986

A new collaborative research centre "Signals and Signal Processing in Cellular Differentiation" is being instituted at Ulm University. Cellular differentiation signifies the adaptation of a cell to new tasks and functions in the organism. These processes not only form the basis of embryonic development -- false regulation can lead to developmental disorders and malformations -, but they are also indispensable for the adaptation and regeneration of tissue and organs which are already fully formed. The scientists intend to conduct comparative studies of the signal paths regulating such differentiation processes in a variety of systems. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Dr. Walter Knöchel, Abteilung Biochemie, tel.: 0731/502 3280/3281

Enzymes are proteins which control and catalyse biological processes. Many of these enzymes contain special molecules which, as co-factors, are either directly involved in the catalytic process, or exert an indirect influence on it. A new collaborative research centre at the Technische Universität Berlin is to conduct research into these "Protein-Co-factor Interactions in Biological Processes" in selected enzymes by characterising the relationships between structure and function, and so deciphering the molecular mechanisms of the biological reactions. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Lubitz, Max-Volmer-Institut fur Biophysikalische Chemie und Biochemie, tel.: 030/314 21419/21433

In the collaborative research centre "Identify, Localise, Act: Neurocognitive Mechanisms and their Flexibility" at Tübingen University the scientists are aiming to investigate the basic neurobiological principles of the processes which lead from the identification of objects to purposeful action, and to describe the interactions between the co-ordinating neuronal steps in these processes. It is a question of discovering how neuronal activity facilitates holistic perception and well co-ordinate motor response. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Thier, Neurologische Klinik, Sektion fur Visuelle Sensomotorik, tel.: 07071/29 83057

Natural Sciences

The "Manipulation of Matter on the Nanometric Scale" is the topic of a new collaborative research centre at Munich University. Its aim is to control the interaction of matter on the nanometric scale through the development and utilization of novel molecular tools. Nanoscopic systems from Physics, Biology and Chemistry are to be researched and correlated, with the emphasis lying on the development of new key techniques for the direct manipulation of individual atoms or molecules. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hermann E. Gaub, Lehrstuhl fur Angewandte Physik, tel.: 089/2180 3173

The development of new ion-conducting materials such as are employed in solid batteries and fuel cells, in chemical sensors and electrochemistry, demands detailed understanding of the ionic structures, interactions and processes. At the centre of the collaborative research centre "Ion Motion in Materials with Random Structures -- from the Elementary Step to the Macroscopic Transport" at Munster University lie the synthesis and characterisation of novel ion-conducting materials and the experimental study of ionic motion in crystals, glasses and polymers. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Klaus Funke, Institut fur Physikalische Chemie, tel.: 0251/83 23418

The collaborative research centre "Co-operative Phenomena in Solids: Metal-Insulator Transitions and the Order of Microscopic Degrees of Freedom" at Augsburg University is dedicated to the interactive, quantum-mechanical, multiparticle systems of solid-state physics. The prime question is: how do the interaction and collective behaviour of microscopic degrees of freedom of the electrons and lattice lead to ordered structures and metal-insulator transitions. The ideal class of material for studying such effects are transition metal oxides. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Dieter Vollhardt, Institut fur Theoretische Physik III, tel.: 0821/598 3700

Heterolayer structures are synthetically coated materials separated by well defined boundary areas in the nanometric range with novel physical properties. The aim of this collaborative research centre "Magnetic Heterolayers: Structure and Electronic Transport" at the Ruhr-University Bochum is to elucidate the basic physical principles of such heterolayers. They possess great potential for applications in information and communications technology, especially in the field of data storage, magnetic-field sensors and the control of future data storage media. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Zabel, Institut fur Experimentalphysik/Festkörperphysik, tel.: 0234/322 3649/3650

Due to the technological problems it presents, the terahertz range, the transition between the radio and the infra-red ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, is the range which has been least researched spectroscopically, even though it is of importance for the elucidation of numerous astrophysical and chemical processes. A large part of the luminosity of the Milky Way and other galaxies is emitted in this range, and characteristic traces of the creation of stars and planets can be particularly clearly observed. The collaborative research centre "The Development of Interstellar Matter: Terahertz Spectroscopy in Space and Laboratory" at Cologne University aims to open up terahertz-range spectroscopy both in the laboratory and in space as a means of studying the development of interstellar gas and dust matter. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Gisbert Winnewisser, I. Physikalisches Institut, tel.: 0221/470 3567

Engineering Sciences

The collaborative research centre "Form-Memory Technology: Basic Principles, Design, Production" at Bochum University combines basic scientific materials research, modern materials technology and applications in the engineering sciences. The initial focus of interest of this project are nickel-titanium form-memory alloys. These combine high strength with low proclivity to fatigue. In view of the wide range of applications available for form-memory alloys -- extending from mechanical engineering, to medical engineering and finally to aero-space, the demand profiles relating to this material are manifold. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Gunther Eggeler, Institut fur Werkstoffe, tel.: 0234/322 8022

The strengthening of small and medium-sized companies through the medium of long-term, self-supporting, regionally-specific economic structures is a prerequisite for the dynamic development of an economy. The present forms of co-operation are based on hierarchical structures between companies, in which small companies are normally unilaterally dependent on large ones. This creates problems for new companies wishing to enter the market . The collaborative research centre „Non-hierarchical Regional Production Networks. Theories, Models, Methods and Instruments" at Chemnitz University aims to develop novel forms of customer-orientated regional production and service networks devoid of hierarchies. Speaker: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Siegfried Wirth, Institut fur Betriebswissenschaften und Fabriksysteme, tel.: 0371/531 5309

Despite the fact that ceramic engineering materials are distinguished by such advantages as high hardness, thermal resilience and resistance to wear and corrosion, manufacturers are currently tending to be hesitant about introducing them into practice. The scientists engaged in the collaborative research centre „Highly Stressed Slip and Friction Systems based on Ceramic Engineering Materials" at Karlsruhe University are aiming to employ selected components -- sets of synchronisation rings from gearboxes , clutch systems, crankshafts for pumps, high-pressure pumps for direct injection car engines -- to discover the tools required for the employment of these materials under thermal-mechanical loads. Speaker: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karl-Heinz Zum Gahr, Institut fur Werkstoffkunde II, tel.: 07247/82 3897

A new collaborative research centre has been established at Hanover University entitled "The Process Chain for Manufacturing Precision-forged, High-performance Components". Its aim is to effect a drastic curtailing of the process chain by integrating various production processes and replacing cutting processes with precision-forging techniques. This should lower production costs, reduce energy and material expenditure and lead to long-term reductions in investment costs. Speaker: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Eckart Doege, Institut fur Umformtechnik und Umformmaschinen (IFUM), tel.: 0511/762 2164

The "Development, Production and Quality Assurance of Microcomponents formed from Metallic and Ceramic Materials" is the subject of a new collaborative research centre at Karlsruhe University (TH). The studies are based on a holistic review of the process chain embracing the design of the microcomponent, its production and, finally, its quality assurance. The aim is to make the forming processes, micro-casting and micro-powder injection moulding, available for the manufacture of miniaturised, three-dimensional ceramic and metal components. Speaker: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hartmut Weule, Institut fur Werkzeugmaschinen und Betriebstechnic, tel.: 0721/608 2442

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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