University of Cologne holds the Top Position in Germany with a Total of 16 CRCs as the Managing University

DNA stock photo © University of Cologne, Adobe Stock @nobeastsofierce

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved a new Collaborative Research Centre in the field of mRNA research and extended the funding of four existing CRCs. The University of Cologne holds the top position in Germany.

The DFG will fund a new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) at the University of Cologne for the next three years to investigate the effects of defects in the production of mRNA and proteins. Four other existing CRCs from the fields of aridity research, mitochondria, quantum materials and states of matter are entering the third and thus final funding period. In all, the approved CRCs will receive funds totaling approximately 56 million euros in this period, of which 44 million euros will remain at the University of Cologne. The remaining funds go to the collaboration partners.

A better understanding of age-related mRNA defects

The new CRC 1678 ‘Systems-level Consequences of Fidelity Changes in mRNA and Protein Biosynthesis’ investigates why more errors occur in the production of mRNAs and proteins with increasing age and how these changes affect cells and the entire organism. Thanks to new technologies, the researchers can now investigate the effects of errors in mRNA and protein production more closely. The experts from the fields of molecular and cell biology, systems biology and bioinformatics will combine molecular biological methods with computer-based models to investigate the relationships between the processes. The aim is to understand how these defects can cause diseases in humans.

How an extremely dry Earth develops

CRC 1211 ‘Earth – Evolution at the Dry Limit’, which is now entering the third funding period, investigates the mutual relationships between biological and landscape evolution in the driest deserts on Earth (Atacama and Namib), where both biological activity and Earth-surface processes are limited by the availability of liquid water. In the first two funding phases, the research team focused on the development of new experimental and numerical methods and on the dynamics of hyper-arid soil-landscape systems and the hyper-arid biosphere. Their results describe the characteristics of biological activity on the basis of the water availability on habitable Earth and characterize the Earth-surface processes that occur in the absence of liquid water. From this, the researchers define threshold values for the possibility of biological life as well as tipping points of the Earth’s surface systems.

Therapeutic strategies for mitochondrial diseases

CRC 1218 ‘Mitochondrial Regulation of Cellular Function’ is also entering the third funding period. This CRC focuses on the ‘powerhouses of cells’. It investigates how mitochondria communicate with cells and how they adapt their function to changing physiological demands. A better understanding of the functional dynamics of mitochondria is an important prerequisite for the targeted investigation of various diseases caused by defects in mitochondria. The findings could serve to develop new therapeutic strategies.

Novel quantum computers and energy-efficient electronics

CRC 1238 ‘Control and Dynamics of Quantum Materials’ brings together researchers from experimental and theoretical physics as well as crystallography. Their vision is to discover, understand and control novel collective phenomena and new functionalities in quantum materials.

International cooperation for quantum technology

CRC/Transregio 183 ‘Entangled States of Matter’ will also receive additional funding in a third funding period. Complex quantum systems can form entangled states in which the large number of atomic components can protect each other from interference such as radiation, noise or other environmental influences. The aim of CRC/TRR 183 is to use the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics to develop solid-state systems that materialize such macroscopically entangled states in a tangible manner.

Read the full article on the website of the University of Cologne.