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From intelligent cars to the prevention of heart attacks

11/25/05

DFG approves twelve new collaborative research centres

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will establish 12 new Collaborative Research Centres as of 1 January 2006. These will cover a wide variety of topics including intelligent safety systems for cars, non-governmental governance models, and methods of preventing kidney failure or heart attacks. In addition, new Independent Junior Research Groups and Transfer Units have been approved. The objective of Independent Junior Research Groups is to support the independence of young researchers. Transfer Units serve to transfer research findings, produced in collaboration with industry, into the realm of practical application.

Furthermore, 35 Collaborative Research Centres have been approved for an additional funding period. Including the newly approved projects, the DFG will now fund a total of 270 Collaborative Research Centres, among them 24 Transregional Collaborative Research Centres, which are Collaborative Research Centres based at several locations. Total funding for 2006 amounts to approx. €377 million.

The new Collaborative Research Centres in detail:

Free University Berlin

Many former colonies are today confronted with the issue of state collapse. Instead of elected governments, rebel leaders are fighting for power at the cost of the well-being and safety of the population. What are the causes and how can governments keep control? This is the question investigated by the Collaborative Research Centre "Governance in areas of limited concept of state: new forms of governance". In Berlin, Potsdam and Florence, political, social, and cultural scientists as well as lawyers, political economists, and historians will study the traditional forms of governance. One of their objectives is the development of new action concepts that take into consideration the cooperation of government and non-government actors, as well as cross-border cooperation (Coordinator: Prof. Thomas Risse)

University of Bonn

In the Collaborative Research Centre "Molecular mechanisms and chemical modulation of local immuno-regulation", scientists at the universities of Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf will analyse defence mechanisms against pathogens. Their work will focus on small molecules, released at the site of the disease, which are capable of regulating the fight and even of luring cells from the immune system, thus ensuring the fine-tuning of the immune defence system. The researchers hope to improve treatment methods in clinical practice, for example for the treatment of allergies or inflammations. (Coordinator: Prof. Waldemar Kolanus)

Chemnitz University of Technology

The Collaborative Research Centre "High-strength aluminium-based lightweight materials for safety components" will focus on the development, production and application analysis of new materials based on aluminium that can be used for a variety of components, such as marine propellers. Scientists from the TU Chemnitz, together with the local Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, will be looking for new ways to use the high-strength lightweight materials in other branches of industrial manufacturing. The objective is to develop new processing operations to increase the longevity of materials and to withstand the high requirements placed on safety components. (Coordinator: Prof. Bernhard Wielage)

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Modern cars are equipped with a multitude of mechanical and electronic devices, which interact in an increasingly complex way. The Collaborative Research Centre "Integration of electronic components in mobile systems" aims to develop methods to allow for the production and installation of these "intelligent" components directly where they are needed in the car. By doing so, the researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the Fraunhofer Institute of Integrated Systems and Device Technology, and the Bavarian Laser Centre (both in Erlangen), aim to simplify the electronics, while simultaneously improving their reliability. (Coordinator: Prof. Albert Weckenmann)

University of Hamburg

The discovery of nanotechnology and the observation of minute objects have confronted science with new questions about the function of magnetism. The Collaborative Research Centre "Magnetism from the single atom to nanostructure" will tackle this area. Researchers at the universities of Hamburg and Kiel and at the GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht will study the magnetic behaviour of atoms, molecules, and nanoparticles. The insights gained will, among other things, clarify the extent to which the magnetic characteristics of nanoscopic particles can be used for new methods of data storage. (Coordinator: Prof. Roland Wiesendanger)

University of Karlsruhe

A utopian scenario: a car senses an impending accident and reacts immediately, without requiring any driver intervention. Though this seems entirely inconceivable at present, this is what the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre "Cognitive automobiles" hopes to make possible. Engineers and computer scientists in Karlsruhe and Munich will study methods in the area of machine perception, which could serve as the basis for intelligent automatic action. For example, vehicles could be made capable of correctly assessing a complex traffic situation and taking appropriate action. To achieve this successfully, they will need to be able to perceive and act both individually and cooperatively. "Cognitive automobiles" will be safer and more economical to run, thus creating an internationally competitive technological advantage for the German automotive industry in the long term. (Coordinator: Prof. Christoph Stiller)

University of Cologne

Evolution involves organisms adapting to new environments in a wide variety of ways. The ability to change, adapt and innovate appears to have a genetic basis. The Collaborative Research Centre "Molecular basis of evolutionary innovations" now seeks to provide new evidence for this assumption. Scientists at the University of Cologne, together with their colleagues at the University of Rotterdam, New York University and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, plan to carry out empirical field studies and comprehensive bioinformatical assays. Their objective is to establish a connection between genetic information and the ability to adapt, as well as to arrive at a fuller explanation for the biodiversity we observe around us. (Coordinator: Prof. Diethard Tautz)

University of Munich

The constantly increasing number of people with cancer demands an urgent improvement in early diagnosis and therapy of tumour diseases. The Collaborative Research Centre "Molecular mechanisms of normal and malign haematopoiesis" will therefore focus on normal and abnormal cell development in haematopoiesis. The scientists in Munich seek to apply the insights gained into general mechanisms of blood cell development in the medium term in order to develop new therapeutic methods for more effective treatment of leukaemia. (Coordinator: Prof. Wolfgang Hiddemann)

University of Regensburg

About three million people in Germany currently suffer from kidney disease. However, the range of treatment options has not yet been fully exhausted. The Collaborative Research Centre "Structural, physiological and molecular basis of kidney function" seeks to deal with this shortcoming. Their initial objective is to explore the mechanisms and processes in the kidneys that are important for the understanding of abnormal changes in the body and associated changes in bodily functions. Subsequently, it is hoped that analyses with patients will identify mechanisms that can potentially be applied successfully in clinical practice. (Coordinator: Prof. Armin Kurtz)

University of Regensburg

So far, electrical engineering has almost exclusively used electronic charge to create circuits or components. However, the spin capacity of particles, which creates magnetism, has been largely ignored. Recent studies have shown that spin-electronics has a great potential for industrial application. In the Collaborative Research Centre "Spin phenomena in reduced dimensions" scientists from Regensburg, Munich and Würzburg will seek to identify potential applications of the spin-characteristic of a variety of material categories on the nanoscopic scale. (Coordinator: Prof. Dieter Weiss)

University of Stuttgart

The Collaborative Research Centre "Catalytic selective oxidations of C-H bonds with molecular oxygen" will focus on a thorough investigation of oxygen utilisation by catalysis. Natural scientists define catalysis as a chemical reaction, where an additional substance, the catalyst, significantly accelerates the process without being consumed. The chemists, process engineers, microbiologists, physiologists, and biotechnologists at the universities of Stuttgart and Hohenheim aim, in particular, to use oxygen as a reagent for oxidation of organic molecules by developing a molecular representation of the catalytic process. (Spokesperson: Prof. Sabine Laschat)

University of Würzburg

Although interactions between individual cells in the human blood stream play a key role for the perfusion of organs as well as for curing cardio-vascular diseases, the basics of these interactions have yet to be fully explored. The Collaborative Research Centre "Mechanisms and imaging of cell-cell interactions in the cardio-vascular system" in Würzburg seeks to address this issue. The objective of the biochemists, cell biologists, radiologists, pharmacologists, physicists and neurologists involved is to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches of heart attacks, strokes and other such diseases. (Coordinator: Prof. Ulrich Walter)

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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