Research Training Groups
Graduiertenkollegs der FAU
Research Training Groups (RTG) support young researchers. They give doctoral candidates the opportunity to carry out their work within the framework of a coordinated research programme supported by senior researchers and professors. FAU is involved in 13 research training groups, and is the coordinating university for eleven of them.
More information (including the application requirements) is available on the Graduate Centre’s website.
Research training groups coordinated by FAU
The main goal of this research training group is to train and support young researchers working in the field of adaptive immunity. The research programme will make fundamental contributions to the understanding of adaptive immune response under physiological and pathophysiological conditions through molecular analysis of three key cell populations (dendritic cells, B cells and T cells).
The research training group investigates culturally divergent forms and functions of presence and tacit knowledge, integrating cultural studies approaches to presence with social sciences approaches to tacit knowledge. The two concepts can only be properly understood from a perspective that acknowledges that they are intrinsically linked, if not mutually dependent: tacit knowledge becomes most tangible in experiences of presence, while such experiences, in turn, tend to result in a surplus (or sedimentation) of tacit knowledge. Most importantly, both concepts and the phenomena they describe are understood to be culturally specific and are addressed with regard to intracultural distinction and (inter)cultural difference, at times in a comparative framework. Aspects of affect, power relations, and historicity play a large role in our endeavours. Our doctoral researchers analyse phenomena of presence (in religion, the arts, politics or society at large) that may not be explicated or explicable in everyday discourse as indicative of tacit knowledge in its widest sense. While some projects focus on intracultural phenomena, others engage in intercultural comparison.
Nanotechnology provides methods of structuring materials on the smallest level which lead to new properties and functions. However, this requires modern forms of nanocharacterisation, and new and improved in situ procedures. This research training group is studying these topics. The in situ methods make it possible to investigate the formation, stability and mechanical integrity of nanostructures directly on the nanoscopic and microscopic scale and uncover the relationships between structure and functionality.
The young researchers in this research training group aim to find substances which interact with G protein-coupled receptors which can be used to treat diseases of the central nervous system with minimal side effects. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are proteins which play an important role in the human body in the transmission of sensory data and communication between cells and their environment. They are involved in a wide range of essential processes in the body. Serious diseases can be caused if GPCRs malfunction. New findings about these proteins could lead to promising new forms of treatment.
Cell membranes, the thin barriers which surround animal and plant cells, are the main focus of this research training group’s research. They consist largely of lipids and proteins, which cells use to communicate with each other and which play an important role in transport and growth processes. New findings could lead to a better molecular understanding of many diseases and therefore contribute to new treatments in the future.
How is the development of the central nervous system (CNS) related to the occurrence of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases in late adulthood? To what extent do development processes influence resistance to CNS diseases in adulthood? What are the most important factors here? These are just some of the fundamental questions that the doctoral candidates in RTG 2162 are investigating using methods such as animal models and induced pluripotent stem cells developed from patients’ cells.
Fracture across scales: integrating mechanics, materials science, mathematics, chemistry, and physics
Inflammation is the key response strategy of the body to react to tissue stress and damage. The activation of the immune system related to inflammatory reaction needs closer attention. In this context particular importance is attached to the molecular checkpoints, which are responsible for stopping inflammatory reaction in time and finally for its resolution. In fact, there is still very limited knowledge on the mechanisms of resolution, however they are of central relevance for pathogenesis and therapy of chronic inflammatory diseases. Internal diseases in humans of the joints (arthritis), gut (colitis) and lung (asthma), are characterised by chronification of inflammatory reaction. The collaborative research centre ‘Checkpoints for resolution of inflammation’ aims to investigate the molecular mechanisms which cause the chronification or resolution of inflammation. The CRC 1181 initiative is a collaboration between the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen. It includes 19 research projects which aim to investigate the molecular checkpoints which cause the chronification or resolution of inflammation as well as innovative instruments for equal opportunities, the promotion of young researchers and networking.
Transregio 130 contributes to the fundamental understanding of autoimmune diseases by carrying out research into why the immune system turns on the body in certain diseases. As B cells are often the root cause in diseases which are based on autoimmune reactions, Transregio 130 is focusing its research on the antibody response to foreign bodies triggered by B cells and what goes wrong in this process in autoimmune diseases.
Gas will play an important role as an energy source during the energy reform that is due to take place in the coming decades as Germany moves away from nuclear energy in favour of more environmentally-friendly energy sources. There is sufficient gas available and it can be easily sourced and stored. However, ensuring efficient gas supply involves dealing with issues related to transport, network technology, market regulations and using gas in conjunction with other energy sources. The goal of CRC/Transregio 154 is to meet these challenges using mathematical modelling, simulation and optimisation in order to provide solutions which set a new quality standard. New knowledge of various fields of mathematics, such as mathematical modelling, numerical analysis and simulation, or integer, continuous and stochastic optimisation are required to achieve this.
The aim of CRC/TRR 241 is to better understand the interaction between cells in mucous membranes and immune cells in the bowel and to develop more effective therapy methods for chronic inflammation. During the next few years, researchers will integrate findings about the regulation and function of the immune system in the bowel and current data about anti-microbial defence on the mucous membrane barrier into a new concept. The individual projects will focus in particular on the role of misdirected communication between epithelium and immune cells during the pathogenesis of IBD. The researchers’ long-term aim is to develop medication that targets the causes of bowel inflammation while retaining the ability of the immune system to fight infections and cancer cells. In addition, they hope to find diagnostic methods that predict patients’ response to therapies – a goal that not only serves to relieve symptoms quickly, but should also contribute to lowering treatment costs.
Research training groups involving FAU
Over the last decades there has been a considerable increase in requirements for mathematical models, methods and efficient software for prediction, control and optimisation in various fields of application such as medicine or materials sciences. Research training group 2339 deals with all aspects of modelling in order to gain a better understanding of complex phenomena and processes that typically involve interfaces, multi-scale problems and small parameters (singular limits). The research programme addresses three main topics: interfaces, complex structures and singular limits and dimension reduction.
Blood stem cell transplants are one treatment option for certain forms of leukaemia and lymph node cancer. However, in some patients immunological reactions can occur between the transplanted cells and the healthy tissue after the transplant. This often causes damage to the skin, liver and intestines. CRC/TR 221 is therefore researching the immunological mechanisms of blood stem cell transplants. The long-term aim is to increase the tolerability of this therapy and to suppress undesirable immune reactions.