Heidelberg University succeeded in gaining support from the German Research Foundation in the latest approval round, receiving funding for two Collaborative Research Centres. The newly established "Vascular Control of Organ Function" Collaborative Research Centre (CRC 1366) will take up its work at the Medical Faculty Mannheim. Funding has been continued for CRC 881, "The Milky Way System", at the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University, thus reaching the third and final funding period. Total DFG funding for the two research consortia is more than 19 million euros for a period of four years.
The CRC 1366 is focussed on the mechanisms that blood vessels use to control organ function during development and in disease processes. CRC researchers are concentrating primarily on the blood vessels in the brain, heart, lungs and liver, as well as in tumours. Their studies cover a wide range of topics, from issues in developmental biology and maintenance of tissue homeostasis to primarily disease-related projects. Vascular malfunctions are directly or indirectly involved in more than two-thirds of all deaths. Research into the complexity of vascular functions at the molecular level therefore aims to advance our understanding of life-threatening disease processes and to identify novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Hellmut Augustin will serve as spokesperson of the CRC 1366. He is one of the two Founding Directors of the European Center for Angioscience at Ruperto Carola’s Medical Faculty Mannheim; he also heads the Division for Vascular Oncology and Metastasis at the Germany Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Joining in the collaboration with researchers from the medical faculties in Mannheim and Heidelberg, the Centre for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University, and the DKFZ in Heidelberg are research groups from Bad Nauheim, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Münster. Funding for the "Vascular Control of Organ Function" Collaborative Research Centre amounts to approx. 9.8 million euros.
With the third funding round, CRC 881 has reached the maximum funding period of twelve years. Its research efforts focus on our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The approx. 9.4 million euros of funding are used for exploring the origin and evolution of the Milky Way in order to uncover the basic principles of galaxy formation. In their previous research, the scientists successfully created a three-dimensional map of the outskirts of the Milky Way and characterised the influence of the central region of the Milky Way on the orbits of stars in the Galactic disk. The researchers also mapped the distribution of stellar birthplaces. They discovered hundreds of extremely old stars that bear witness to the early evolution of the Milky Way. Using simulations, they were able to generate realistic physical models of Milky Way-like galaxies for the first time. Now the CRC will turn its attention to studying the data from the Gaia satellite and accompanying ground-based sky surveys. The researchers will measure the distances, orbits, chemical composition, and ages of the stars in the Milky Way, which serve as fossil records of the Galaxy’s evolutionary history. Continuing as spokesperson for "The Milky Way System" Collaborative Research Centre is Eva Grebel of the Institute for Astronomical Computing, which is part of Heidelberg University’s Centre for Astronomy. Non-university research institutions involved are the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, and the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt.