Science and research ‘made in Germany’
As part of its research programmes, the German Federal Government provides funding for basic technologies that drive forward developments in central fields of application and thus serve to encourage growth in several sectors. Research funding provided by the German government seeks to find solutions to global challenges, increase Germany’s competitiveness and secure sustainable jobs.
Project applications are selected and approved in a competitive procedure on the basis of specific calls for applications from various Federal Ministries.
FAU receives the most funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as well as from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).
Some of the most significant projects are listed and described briefly below:
The International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF) ‘Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe’ is one of ten Käte Hamburger research consortia in Germany funded by the BMBF as part of an initiative to strengthen research in the humanities and international networking in this area.
A team of local researchers at FAU is supported every year by 10-12 different international visiting fellows who research how notions of individual and collective fate are viewed in the daily life and ideology of traditional, modern and present-day China (or East Asia), Medieval Europe and other cultures.
Their findings on attitudes towards fate and prognosis should give answers to the question of the place freedom takes in various cultures.
In November 2015, the funding programme ‘Medical Informatics Initiative (MI-I)’ was launched to promote IT innovations for health research and medical care. The aim is to improve patient care in Germany. The advantages of digitalisation in medicine should be used to connect data and generate medical knowledge, whilst developing and applying innovative IT solutions for an improved healthcare system based on data.
The MIRACUM Consortium (Medical Informatics in Research and Care in University Medicine) is one of the four funded consortia. The consortium is led by Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Prokosch, Chair of Medical Informatics, FAU.
MIRACUM is a consortium of ten universities with ten university hospitals, two universities of applied sciences and one industrial partner in seven of the states within Germany and a total funding volume of 37 million euros. The focus is creating data integration centres and integrating them into the hospital’s IT infrastructure over the coming years, with the aim of making it easier to collect and share data within the consortium.
The World Health Organisation recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least 6 months and for up to 2 years after introducing solids. Even though breast milk offers protection against serious illnesses and infections, there are some viruses that are transmitted via breast milk. This includes the human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1), a neglected retro and tumour virus that predominantly infects white blood cells (CD4+ T cells) and can lead to incurable illnesses after lifelong persistence. At least 5 to 10 million people worldwide are infected with HTLV-1, however many of them do not know they have the virus. The virus is transmitted via bodily fluids that contain cells, including blood products, seminal fluid and breast milk, which is mainly responsible for the transmission of HTLV-1 from mother to child. The risk of transmitting the virus increases with the duration of breastfeeding, but refraining from breastfeeding is not an option in countries where resources are limited or within under-represented ethnic groups such as ethnic minorities. Although our understanding of how the virus is transmitted from cell to cell on a molecular level continues to improve, it remains unclear which cells in which organs are infected first via breast milk, how these cells are infected and how breast milk influences the infection of these cells. Furthermore, the development of prevention strategies that still allow breastfeeding, above all in economically underdeveloped regions, is urgently required. We intend to take an experiment-based approach to tackling these questions. For this purpose, we will use various tissue culture models and develop HTLV-1 specific single-domain antibodies that can be used in therapy. Our central aim is to develop prevention strategies that ultimately allow infants to gain from the benefits of breastfeeding without being exposed to an increased risk of HTLV-1 transmission.
The project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, reference number 01KI2023, from 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2025.
Applications for sensors, such as smartwatches and fitness apps, are becoming increasingly common in our day-to-day lives due to modern technology. These applications offer new opportunities for prenatal care, where the heart rate, blood pressure and other measurements can be carried out at home. This raises the question of whether these measurements could be transferred to smart home applications and provide valid results, thereby reducing the number of unnecessary hospital visits.
The focus of this project is the clinical usability, acceptance by society, compliance by the stakeholders involved and the development of this sensor technology in a domestic setting and the associated ethical and legal implications.
The fundamental idea of the project is to optimise and simplify prenatal care for pregnant women by transferring proven and innovative sensor systems into a home care setting and analysing the results using artificial intelligence and machine learning. In this project, potential direct applications for implementing smart sensors will be created that will optimise the provision of healthcare by physicians and also enable pregnant women to check their results themselves and optimise their metabolic activity. Pregnant women and their partners who are open to the use of modern digital media such as smartphones and smartwatches to monitor their health are the target group of the project.
The project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, reference number ZMVI1-2519DAT400, from 1 March 2020 to 30 April 2023.
Software Campus 2.0
Software Campus is a training programme from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, tailored for managers in the IT sector. It is aimed at students studying for a Master’s degree and doctoral candidates in computer science from Germany and abroad, who have demonstrated outstanding academic success and an innovative entrepreneurial spirit. Within the framework of the programme, Master’s students or doctoral candidates can develop and manage their own IT idea as part of a project together with an industrial partner. BMBF has provided funding of up to 100,000 euros for the project for a maximum of two years. Those participating in the programme have the opportunity to attend special training courses aimed at improving their methodological and management skills, as well as other valuable soft skills.
The project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, reference number 01IS17045, from 1 November 2017 to 30 June 2025.
Antimicrobial resistance has become one of the world’s most serious health problems. Attempts to develop new or improved antimicrobial chemotherapy drugs have had only limited success up to now. The problem requires innovative approaches during the development of new therapies. The naturally acquired immunity of humans has evolved during the course of millions of years and transferring natural immune cells (known as T cells) to treat infectious diseases has been proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials, even in cases where conventional drugs were no longer effective. This applies in particular to infections with the herpesviridae family of viruses, which can be fatal for patients with a suppressed immune system. However, the fact that these cell therapies have to be tailored to each patient prevents their widespread use. Even though genetic engineering can be used to increase the variability of T cell therapies, modifying the cells in this way also causes profound changes to their physiology. New ‘genetic scissors’ such as CRISPR/Cas9 mean that it is now possible to produce genetically modified T cells that are very similar to physiological T cells for the first time. The aim of the project is to improve natural immunity to herpesviridae that are resistant to chemotherapy by using physiologically modified T cells (Physiological Advanced Genetically Engineered T cells – AGEnTs). The goal is to develop safe, functional therapeutic T cell products for widespread use using pioneering genetic engineering techniques. The long-term objectives of the research project are to combine the advantages of physiological immunity and cell engineering in order to develop therapies for patients suffering from other infectious diseases that are resistant to conventional drugs.
The project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, reference number 01KI2013, from 1 March 2021 to 28 February 2026.
SiC Quantum Memory Nodes for a Distributed Quantum Computing Network (QMNDQCNet)
Quantum computers offer excellent opportunities for various fields such as medicine, pharmaceuticals, materials science and finance. Current approaches for building quantum computers are based on stationary solutions. The main problem associated with these approaches is the scaling of qubits. This project aims to tackle the problem by providing scaling by means of a distributed quantum computing network. Such a network enables the scaling of qubits by “connecting” (linking) existing stationary optically active quantum computers. This means that the maximum number of qubits available can be scaled in this network by connecting existing quantum computers, which would make it significantly quicker to develop a quantum computer that is capable of functioning.
The project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, reference number 13N16264 , from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2026.
Reliable and high-performance communication networks are an important driver of innovation in our digital society. To shape our digital future effectively and in line with our requirements, it is vital that Germany and Europe have technological superiority. To ensure that Germany plays a leading role in designing 6G, the next generation of mobile communication technology, and to ensure the technology is firmly established in Europe, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing funding of around 68 million euros for the Open6GHub project during the next four years (2022–2025).
The Open6GHub is developing a 6G vision for digital sovereignty in a hyperconnected world from 2030 and is designing a 6G system that will save resources and be energy efficient, protect personal information and ensure high network availability. The design criteria for collaboration in the Open6GHub will focus on the needs of society (sustainability, climate protection, data protection, resilience, participation) and the competitiveness of our companies and our technological superiority.
The consortium, comprising 47 research groups from 11 universities and six extramural research institutions, is focusing on application fields requiring very high standards of quality and security in communication technology: smart cities, highly connected production, future mobility scenarios, new worlds of learning, personalized medicine and, above all, human interaction with a large number of autonomous vehicles and devices, which are examples of a world that will be characterized by 6G from 2030 onwards. In addition, 6G is also likely to play a key role in accelerated digitalization for the purposes of sustainability and the implementation of climate policy targets. Providing equal coverage to rural areas is another aim of the Open6GHub, for which 6G research is being carried out into satellite connections, for example.
Within the context of these focal areas, the project will contribute to a global 6G harmonization process and standard in Europe in order to strengthen Germany and Europe’s position in international competition for 6G.
The project is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, reference number 16KISK005, from August 1, 2022 to July 31, 2025.