¤16.5m for Münster University research projects: Twofold success

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© WWU - Jan Lehmann

© WWU - Jan Lehmann

A great success at the University of Münster: The German Research Foundation (DFG) will be providing 6.5 million euros to fund the new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) “Geometry: Deformations and Rigidity” at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science. The existing CRC 1009 “Breaking Barriers - Immune cells and pathogens at cell/matrix barriers” will continue to receive funding from the DFG, amounting to more than 10 million euros. The new funding period for both projects will begin in July this year and run for the next four years.

The CRC “Geometry: Deformations and Rigidity ” aims to develop geometry both as a subject in its own right and as a tool for other mathematical fields. “Geometry has evolved into a cornerstone of modern mathematics: a source of important theories and a powerful tool,” says Prof. Arthur Bartels from the Mathematical Institute and spokesperson of the CRC. “Looking at an abstract mathematical problem from a geometric point of view quite often opens up a path to its solution.” The researchers involved in the new CRC will focus on two antagonistic geometric concepts: deformations and rigidity. They can be applied in many different situations, making the transfer of methods particularly fruitful. The newly generated insights should produce scientific breakthroughs concerning, for example, the Langlands programme, positive curvature manifolds, K-theory, group theory, and C∗-algebras. “Münster is known around the world as a research centre for mathematics, especially geometry. We aim to further strengthen this position,” as Arthur Bartels emphasizes. The CRC will benefit from the Cluster of Excellence “Mathematics Münster: Dynamics - Geometry - Structure”, which is also being funded by the DFG and has been establishing and promoting new organizational structures, international networking and the interplay between mathematical subdisciplines since the beginning of 2019.

The “Breaking Barriers ” research project has already been running for eight years and deals with the fundamentals and the clinical aspects of inflammatory reactions. “We’re dealing with what is, from a medical point of view, an extremely important topic, as chronic inflammation - in particular infectious diseases, allergies, autoimmune or rheumatic diseases - represent an important area of healthcare in our society,” says CRC spokesperson Prof. Johannes Roth, Head of the Institute of Immunology at the University of Münster’s Faculty of Medicine. Over the past few years, the CRC has established a network of research groups - in order to investigate not only the interaction between pathogens such as viruses and bacteria with biological surfaces, but also of the body’s defence mechanisms involving leukocytes (white blood cells). As regards pathogen-free (sterile) inflammations such as allergies and autoimmune diseases, the researchers gained new insights which shall be implemented in methods relating to new diagnostic or therapeutic approaches in the coming funding period. Overall, the work carried out by this CRC led to a well-established research focus at Münster University being nationally and internationally visible. The clinical importance of this network is further emphasized by the fact that the CRC “Breaking Barriers” has given rise to a clinical research group on systemic inflammatory reactions which has itself also been receiving funding from the DFG since February this year.

Collaborative Research Centres are long-term university-based research institutions, established for up to 12 years, which are funded by the German Research Foundation. They make it possible to pursue innovative and demanding research projects. Including this latest project, the University of Münster is currently the host or leading partner of eight Collaborative Research Centres. Münster University researchers are also involved in many other cross-university CRCs.

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