DFG to Establish Eleven New Collaborative Research Centres
Topics range from spontaneous self-organisation of soft matter and neuronal systems to the origin of the Milky Way or the effect of calcium ion signals in the body
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will establish eleven new Collaborative Research Centres (CRC) as of 1 January 2011. This decision was made recently by the responsible Grants Committee at its autumn meeting in Bonn. The new CRCs will receive a total of € 94.4 million (including a 20 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs) for an initial funding period of four years.
The new centres’ research topics will include more efficient lift systems for commercial aircraft and new analysis methods for filtering information from large amounts of data. Other groups are concerned with fundamental questions of astrophysics, immune and cellular biology. One of the new projects is a CRC/Transregio (TRR), which is carried out across several research locations.
In addition, the Grants Committee agreed to extend 15 CRCs for an additional four-year funding period. As of January 2011, the DFG will thus be funding a total of 238 Collaborative Research Centres.
The new CRCs in detail (in order of their host institution):
In dynamic systems in physics, chemistry and biology, temporal, spatial or spatio-temporal structures often form spontaneously and are far from being in thermodynamic equilibrium. The CRC 910 “Control of self-organising non-linear systems: theoretical methods and application of concepts” plans to explore and control the self-organisation of these structures. To do so, new control concepts and methods are to be developed and, in the course of simulations and modelling, applied to selected systems The researchers intend to merge different control concepts from the field of non-linear dynamics and chaos control, classical control and optimisation theory and quantum control. The focal points are semiconductor quantum structures, soft matter and neural systems.
(Host institution: Berlin Institute of Technology, coordinator: Professor Dr. Eckehard Schöll – also involved: Free University of Berlin; Humboldt University of Berlin; Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society; Federal Institute of Physics and Technology; Weierstrass Institute for Applied Analysis and Stochastics, all in Berlin)
The CRC 880 “Fundamentals of high-lift for future commercial aircraft” aims at providing the scientific basis for a new kind of civil, low-noise aircraft. They are to be driven by new, efficient high-lift systems that can not only reduce noise, but also allow taking off and landing on short runways, which would better integrate the aircraft as a transport vehicle in peri-urban areas. The new CRC intends to increase the efficiency of the active high-lift system, particularly by reducing the power required for blowing out air over the high-lift flaps. Through the innovation of a shape-variable aerofoil, the exploration of the synergies between suction and blow-off of a pneumatically-autonomous, active high-lift system and the exploitation of the potentials of flow control, lift coefficients up to twice the values common today are believed to be possible.
(Host institution: Technical University of Brunswick, coordinator: Professor Dr.-Ing. Rolf Radespiel – also involved: the University of Hannover, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Brunswick)
In science, but also in many other areas such as traffic navigation, more and more data is becoming available. So far, however, there is a lack of efficient methods to gain reliable information from this data – alone the size and quantity of the data mean that data processing in an acceptable time frame is very limited. What is needed therefore are innovative methods for intelligent and resource-efficient data analysis. The CRC 876 “Availability of information through analysis under resource constraints” aims at improving and developing such methods. One one hand, the researchers are focusing on the development and improvement of methods, and on the other, on improving their application in embedded systems.
(Host institution: Technical University of Dortmund, coordinator: Professor Dr. Katharina Morik – also involved: the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Leibniz-Institut für Analytische Wissenschaften e.V., ISAS, Dortmund)
The processing of sensory stimuli is the basis for our interaction with the environment. Specialised signal machinery enables sensory cells and sensory neurons to perform such processing functions – dysfunctions are serious. The CRC 889 “Cellular mechanisms of sensory processing” aims at investigating the mechanisms of synaptic transmission and the function of sensory neural networks on various levels: from the role protein complexes play in sensory processing and their disorders to behaviour. The researchers do so by examining various species – flies, mice, primates – and sensory modalities – sight, hearing, smelling, feeling. This broad foundation is intended to provide access to the investigation of general principles as well as specialised mechanisms of sensory function.
(Host institution: the University of Göttingen, coordinator: Professor Dr. Tobias Moser – also involved: German Primate Centre; Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry; Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization; Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, all in Göttingen; Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot (Israel))
The study of self-organisation, cooperativity and non-linear dynamics of soft matter is the objective of the CRC 937 “Collective behaviour of soft and biological matter.” Examples of objects to be examined are actin networks, biomembranes or cells. In their investigation, the researchers employ the methods and concepts of statistical physics and non-linear dynamics. By examining the adhesion of membranes or the dynamics of cell division, researchers hope to draw a comprehensive picture of the physics of biological matter. Overall, this CRC aims at contributing to a better understanding of the phenomena in polymer networks and biomembranes – an important prerequisite to describing the complex organisation and dynamics of cellular units.
(Host institution: the University of Göttingen, coordinator: Professor Dr. Annette Zippelius – also involved: Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry, both in Göttingen)
The Milky Way is a typical spiral galaxy and thus one of the most common class of massive galaxies in the universe. For the model-based exploration of the astrophysical processes of development it is particularly suitable – not least because of its favourable observation position. On this basis, CRC 881 “The Milky Way system” is devoted to the question of the development and functionality of the Milky Way in order to clarify fundamental principles of galaxy formation. To answer this question, the researchers will use stars as fossil indicators of chemical, dynamic evolution and trace the cosmic cycle of matter.
(Host institution: the University of Heidelberg, coordinator: Professor Dr. Eva K. Grebel; also involved: Max Planck Institute of Astronomy, Heidelberg; Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies)
Immunobiology is the major topic of the CRC 938 “Medium-specific control of immunological reactivity”. It focuses on the molecular analysis of immunological processes in different tissues and organs, particularly those of humans as well as those of other model organisms. The main emphasis here is on the functional adaptation processes of immune-competent and highly mobile cells at their current location in the body. With the knowledge of these reactions it is also possible to systematically influence immune processes. The research programme includes both qualitative and quantitative investigations and researchers hope to achieve an introduction to personalised medicine and clinical application.
(Host institution: the University of Heidelberg, coordinator: Professor Dr. Stefan Meuer – also involved: German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Heidelberg)
Polynuclear organometallic compounds of different metals often show a collective and cooperative interaction between the metal nuclei. The ability to understand the electronic coupling of such metal atoms is a fundamental concern in the molecular sciences. The CRC/TRR 88 “Cooperative effects in homo-and hetero-metallic complexes (3MET)” based in Kaiserslautern and Karlsruhe aims at examining in particular the interactions in new hetero-metallic complexes with few transition metal atoms. It focuses on the magnetic, catalytic and photonic properties of these complexes. The structure-property relationships of these aggregates are still largely unknown – however, they offer great potential for applications such as switchable molecular magnets, catalysts and optical functional materials.
(Host institution: the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, coordinator: Professor Dr. Gereon Niedner-Schatteburg – additional applicant: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT))
Fundamental processes in interstellar space are the topic of the CRC 956 “Conditions and effects of star formation – astrophysics, instrumentation and laboratory”. It is concerned with the hitherto little known physical and chemical conditions causing interstellar matter to cluster together into dense clouds and in the end create new stars. The research programme ranges from large-scale propagation of radiation and shock waves to the microphysics of the reaction processes. Together with researchers in Switzerland and the United States, the spectral signature of these phenomena is now to be examined in the sub-mm and infrared range.
(Host institution: the University of Cologne, coordinator: Professor Dr. Jürgen Stutzki – also involved: the University of Bonn; the Max Planck Institute of Radio Astronomy, Bonn; the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland; the University of Michigan, USA)
So far, the concept of micro-compartments is used in molecular biology to describe certain prokaryotic multiprotein complexes with metabolic function. The CRC 944 “Physiology and dynamics of cellular micro-compartments” now extends this definition to apply to all cells and defines micro-compartments as functional units formed by the accumulation of proteins and lipids in a dynamic micro-environment in order to distinguish them from organelles and quaternary protein structures. The researchers are directing their attention to the function, regulation and dynamic composition of selected micro-compartments in order to derive the basic principles of their functioning. At the forefront of their research are e.g. signal transduction, membrane protein complexes or cell contacts.
(Host institution: the University of Osnabrück, coordinator: Professor Dr. Christian Ungermann – also involved: the University of Münster)
The reception, conversion and transfer of information are among the basic functions of biological systems. Among the most important signalling molecules within this context are calcium ions. They are the focus of the CRC 894 “Ca2+ signals: molecular mechanisms and integrative functions”. It aims at clarifying the meaning of sub-cellular Ca2+ signals in cells and in view of the physiological behaviour of whole organs. The spectrum ranges from the molecular mechanisms of signal generation to the signal effect on the entire body. In particular, the origin and the course of elementary Ca2+ signals in cells of the immune system, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, sensory system and neuroendocrine system are to be investigated.
(Host institution: Saarland University, coordinator: Professor Dr. Jens Rettig)