DFG research center 'Molecular Physiology of the Brain' extended by 4 years

December 09, 2010

After two successful funding periods, the DFG Research Centre "Molecular Physiology of the Brain" (CMPB) at the University of Göttingen has been extended and will now receive funding for a further four years. This decision was taken by the Joint Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), at its December session in Bonn. The funding will enable the CMPB, which was established in 2002, to continue its work until 30 September 2014. During this third and final funding period, it will receive a good € 23 million in funding.

The Göttingen-based Research Centre examines the fundamental processes and interactions in the nerve cells of the brain, all of which are subject to complex molecular control mechanisms. In particular, the CMPB's researchers are interested in discovering the roles played by the molecules in the larger network regions of the brain, with its hundreds of billions of neurons and glial cells. Through achieving a better understanding of these processes, the CMPB aims to bring about considerable improvements in the diagnosis and therapy of neurodegenerative and psychiatric illnesses, such as Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. This is tremendously significant from both the scientific and medical perspectives, as well as in terms of demographics and health policy. The work programme takes a translational approach between basic research, preclinical research and clinical application, and combines interdisciplinary approaches and methods from structural and molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics as well as from neurophysiology and genetics. One of the Research Centre's main aims is also to develop new, particularly high-resolution microscopy methods in order to perform even more detailed examinations of the molecular processes in the nerve cells. A significant part of the CMPB's funding is provided by the University of Göttingen (which is the coordinating university), as well as by the Max Planck Institutes for Biophysical Chemistry (MPIbpc) and Experimental Medicine (MPIem), and by the German Primate Center (DPZ), all of which are also based in Göttingen. Since 2006, one of the CMPB's divisions involved in developing innovative microscopy methods has also been funded as the "Microscopy at the Nanometer Range" cluster of excellence under the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments.

After a successful initial funding period, the CMPB was renewed for a further four years in 2006. The work of the Research Centre during the second funding period, in which even greater emphasis was placed on translational research, was assessed by a top-class international peer review panel in September 2010. Just as the review panel did, the DFG's Joint Committee deemed the CMPB to be of "the highest global visibility". The Centre has, they determined, developed extremely successfully. They consider that its studies provide the greatest opportunities for comprehending the molecular biological and physiological basis of little-understood diseases, as well as for developing better diagnostic processes and employing these on therapies. The CMPB's successes in microscopy are particularly impressive. Methods developed or refined and implemented by the CMPB, such as STED light microscopy, are now allowing structures in living cells to be observed in the nanometre range. In this sense, the Research Centre can be described as an "international driver of microscopy development". The CMPB's promotion of early career researchers and its structurising effects on Göttingen as a research location were also assessed very positively.

The CMPB is one of six Research Centres currently funded by the DFG. The first three of these, "The Ocean in the Earth System" in Bremen, "Functional Nanostructures" in Karlsruhe, and "Experimental Biomedicine" in Würzburg, were established in 2001. The CMPB and the "Matheon - Mathematics for Key Technologies" Research Centre in Berlin followed in 2002. All five of these Centres are now in their third and final funding period, which will run until 2013 or 2014. The sixth Research Centre - "Regenerative Therapies" in Dresden - was established in 2006 and had its funding renewed in 2009 for a second funding period, which will run until 2013. A seventh Research Centre on "Biodiversity Research" was announced following a decision taken by the DFG's Joint Committee in October 2010 and is due to be established in October 2012.

The Research Centres are a new type of funding instrument that takes a particularly strategic approach. Their bundled scientific expertise and the collaboration between university and non-university facilities has led them to become models for clusters of excellence within the Excellence Initiative. After corresponding supplementary proposals, four of the six Research Centres are also being funded as clusters of excellence. Unlike clusters of excellence, however, DFG Research Centres are announced with specific thematic goals. They are intended to create internationally visible research facilities which strengthen the profile and priorities of the founding university and create excellent training and career opportunities for early career researchers.
Further Information

Detailed information on the Research Centres as funding instruments, as well as a list of the centres currently funded, is available online at: www.dfg.de/fzt

Contact Person at the DFG Head Office

Dr. Jan Kunze, Life Sciences 2, Tel. +49 228 885-2297, Jan.Kunze@dfg.de (subject-specific CMPB information)

Dr. Regina Nickel, Research Centres Division, Tel. +49 228 885-2556, Regina.Nickel@dfg.de (process-specific CMPB information)

Dr. Klaus Wehrberger, Division Head, Research Centres, Tel. +49 228 885-2355, Klaus.Wehrberger@dfg.de (General information on Research Centres)

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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