In publica commoda

Press release: DFG funds Göttingen research training groups

Nr. 95/2017 - 15.05.2017

Grant for new research training group on forest sciences approved – Funding for medical research training group extended

(pug) Commencing in September 2017, the German Research Foundation (DFG) is planning to fund a new research training group (RTG) on forest sciences at Göttingen University. Concurrently, the DFG extended funding for an international RTG at the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) for another four and a half years starting in October 2017. The researchers in this new RTG are investigating the question whether mixed stands consisting of beech and other tree species are more diverse than pure beech forests. The funding totals nearly € 4.6 million for an initial period of four and a half years. The UMG’s group is a joint RTG that is working collaboratively with King’s College London. The researchers are investigating how changes to proteins can affect the pathogenesis and treatment of heart failure. Their funding totals nearly € 5.4 million.

The institutions participating in RTG 2300 “Enhancing the tree species diversity of beech forests with conifers: on the meaning of functional features for the functionality of ecosystems“ include the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology, the Faculty of Biology and Psychology, the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the University along with the Northwest German Forest Research Institute in Göttingen. The researchers aim to find out what happens when beech stands are enriched with spruce and Douglas fir to increase what is called functional diversity. Beech trees are very competitive, which means that beech forests, by nature, are relatively species-poor. "Such combinations might provide a possibility to satisfy the diverse and frequently divergent societal demands placed on forests,“ says Prof. Christian Ammer, Head of the Silviculture and Forest Ecology of Temperate Zones Department at Göttingen University and RTG spokesperson.

To date, fundamental questions on these combinations have remained entirely unanswered: How are water and nutrients divided among the species? What species of wood-decomposing fungi and animals occur in each of these forest types? What role do small mammals play in seed distribution? And what does the canopy composition look like? These and other questions will be elucidated by eleven doctoral candidates and one post-doc in the ensuing years. The RTG will be supervised by international experts.

The International Research Training Group "Phosphorylation and redox-mediated signalling mechanisms in the failing heart“ (IRTG 1816) is one of a kind nationwide: within an international research alliance, researchers at the UMG Heart Center and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Research Centre of Excellence at King‘s College London are collaborating on a total of twelve projects. They are investigating how changes to proteins can affect the pathogenesis and treatment of heart failure. In the first funding period, doctoral candidates from around the globe conducted heart research at laboratories in Göttingen and London where a total of 34 doctoral students from twelve different countries worked on earning either a DSc, PhD or MD degree. Their objective was and is to be able to detect incipient heart failure in a very early stage and develop new therapies to counteract this development. This involves studying what are called "posttranslational“ changes. What we know is: When proteins change chemically, so does their function. The changes can cause the typical symptoms of a weak heart like deficient pump output and cardiac rhythm disorders (arrhythmias). Heart failure or cardiac insufficiency is one of the most common diseases in Europe. It is therefore the aim of their research to lay the groundwork for creating innovative modalities to treat heart failure.

The research and education alliance with the BHF Centre of Research Excellence at King‘s College London maximises scientific synergies and competencies. The work is being done in close collaboration with the German Center for Cardiovascular Disease and Collaborative Research Center 1002 "Modulatory Units in Heart Failure”. "Through global recruiting, we believe we can attract top-notch international young scientists to the heart centres in Göttingen and London and retain them long-term,“ says RTG spokesperson Professor Dörthe M. Katschinski, Director of the Department of Cardiovascular Physiology at the University Medical Center Göttingen.

Professor Christian Ammer
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology
Büsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Phone +49 (0)551 39-33671

Professor Dörthe M. Katschinski
University Medical Center Göttingen
Department of Cardiovascular Physiology
Humboldtallee 23, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Phone +49 (0)551 39-5896