The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing ten new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further support early career researchers. This was decided by the relevant Grants Committee, which met by video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic. The new RTGs will receive a total of approximately €48 million over a period of four and a half years from spring 2021 onwards. This includes a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs. One group is an International Research Training Group (IRTG), with partners in France.

In addition to the ten new collaborations, the Grants Committee approved the extension of 15 RTGs for an additional funding period. Research Training Groups offer doctoral researchers the opportunity to complete their theses in a structured research and qualification programme at a high academic level. The DFG currently funds a total of 222 RTGs, including 34 IRTGs.

The ten new Research Training Groups in detail

(in alphabetical order by host university, including the names of spokespersons as well as additional applicant universities and cooperation partners):

Fine arts, law, religion, language and morals are characterised by an understanding that the individual actions that constitute them are always bound by certain norms, but that a critical reflection of these norms occurs at the same time. The Research Training Group «Normativity, Critique, Change» will investigate to what extent the critical reflection of norms causes changes to the actions being carried out. The researchers thus intend to contribute towards the theoretical development of the disciplines involved, the humanities, cultural studies and legal studies. (FU Berlin, Spokesperson: Professor Georg W. Bertram)

The focus of the Research Training Group «Experiencing Gender. Constitution and Transformation of Being in the World» is on the development of gender research across disciplines. «The experience of gender» will therefore investigate and reflect on the subject in theoretical terms from a perspective which predominantly relates to the body and lived experience. How is gender based on lived experiences, and how does it intersect with other dimensions of existence such as class, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, health, age and religion? How are social and symbolic gender hierarchies being transformed? These are the questions which the Research Training Group intends to look into and, in so doing, build up a body of gender studies research. (University of Bielefeld, Spokesperson: Professor Tomke König)

The amount and variety of data available in the field of toxicology has significantly increased, which is why there is a growing demand for analysis of high-dimensional data sets. The Research Training Group «Biostatistical Methods for High-Dimensional Data in Toxicology» aims to develop and apply suitable calculation models and new biostatistical methods to interpret and collate this data. The researchers seek to improve preventative healthcare by improving the risk assessment process. (TU Dortmund, Spokesperson: Professor Jörg Rahnenführer)

It is becoming ever clearer that the problems in the areas of agriculture, nutrition, environment and climate are closely linked. Traditional research into nutrition systems only took individual factors into consideration. Instead, a broader approach is necessary that incorporates all stakeholders and activities, from production and trade through to consumption and its health implications. The Research Training Group «Sustainable Food Systems» is following this approach, and seeks to lay the foundations for more effective policy-making in this area. (University of Göttingen, Spokesperson: Professor Matin Qaim)

The linguistic Research Training Group «Form-Meaning Mismatches» will investigate the relationship between form and meaning, whereby the focus is on the so-called «mismatches». That means that not every expression in a sentence contributes to its meaning and not every contribution to the meaning needs to correspond to an expression in the sentence. How these mismatches have developed in different natural languages as well as in sign language, what functions they have and what role they play in the understanding and acquisition of language are questions that have yet to be answered. The researchers aim to answer these questions in order to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between meaning and grammar. (University of Göttingen, Spokesperson: Professor Hedde Zeijlstra)

The Research Training Group «Beyond Amphiphilicity: Self-Organization of Soft Matter Via Multiple Noncovalent Interactions» will examine the as yet little understood phenomenon of the formation of structures in complex soft material systems by molecular self-organisation. The focus is on molecules that exhibit different types of interactions at the same time. With its work, the researchers aim to contribute towards a better understanding of the fundamental processes of self-organisation in molecular systems, and so form the basis for the design of new functional materials in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. (University of Halle-Wittenberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dariush Hinderberger)

The focus of the work carried out by the Franco-German International Research Training Group «Computational Mechanics Techniques in High Dimensions» is on so-called model reduction techniques for non-linear and high-dimensional problems. The aim is to develop or further develop computer-supported techniques in the field of mechanics and numerics in construction and materials science. In order to achieve this, researchers from both engineering and applied mathematics are working together. (University of Hanover, Spokesperson: Professor Udo Nackenhorst; Cooperation partner: École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay, France)

In global networks, connectivity is a key prerequisite for participation. The Research Training Group «Connecting — Excluding. Cultural Dynamics Beyond Globalized Networks» will investigate connective programmes in networks relating to media, society, economy, politics, law, science, art and culture. It will examine cases of exclusion that accompany common methods of making connections in globalised networks. The aim is to develop a transdisciplinary methodology regarding the relationship between participation and exclusion. Also, issues relating to power, participation as well as self-determination and heteronomy will be examined by means of comparison with historical processes of transformation and with different regions. (University of Cologne, Spokesperson: Professor Stefan Kramer)

General practitioners play a key role in caring for patients with depression, because they are often the ones who make the initial diagnosis and play a leading role in their treatment. However, physical illnesses can mask depression and make it more difficult to choose and carry out a suitable form of therapy. The Research Training Group «Predictors and Outcomes in Primary Depression Care» therefore seeks to develop new diagnosis and treatment approaches for primary care as well as implementation aids. The aim is to introduce a more scientific approach to routine medical care to help general practitioners and improve the treatment of patients with depression. (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Spokesperson: Professor Jochen Gensichen)

New types of technology such as quantum computing, quantum sensing technology and quantum communication pose challenges for physics and engineering. In order to be able to carry out research in view of possible applications, both disciplines must first develop common foundations that include specialised training for early career researchers. This is the aim of the Research Training Group «Towards Graduate Experts in Photonic Quantum Technologies». The researchers also plan to advance the state of quantum technology through the development of reliable photonic and electronic switching technology. (University of Stuttgart, Spokesperson: Professor Jörg Schulze)

The 15 RTGs with their funding extended for an additional period

(in alphabetical order by host university, including the names of spokesperson as well as additional applicant universities and cooperation partners, and with references to the project descriptions in the DFG online database GEPRIS:

RTG «Documentary Practices. Excess and Privation» (University of Bochum, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Friedrich Balke)

RTG «Pi³: Parameter Identification — Analysis, Algorithms, Implementations» (University of Bremen, Spokesperson: Professor Peter Maaß)

RTG «Critical Infrastructures: Social Construction, Function Failure and Protection in Urban Spaces» (TU Darmstadt, Spokesperson: Professor Jens Ivo Engels)

RTG «Natural Products and Natural Product Analogs Against Therapy-Resistant Tumors and Microorganisms: New Lead Structures and Modes of Action» (University of Düsseldorf, Spokesperson: Professor Holger Gohlke)

RTG «Neurodevelopment and Vulnerability of the Central Nervous System» (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Spokesperson: Professor Dieter Chichung Lie)

RTG «Doing Transitions: The Emergence of Transitions in the Life Course» (University of Frankfurt am Main, Spokesperson: Professor Andreas Walther; Additional applicant university: University of Tübingen)

RTG «Transport Across and into Membranes» (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Professor Thorsten Friedrich)

RTG «Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-Use Landscapes of Central Europe (ConFoBi)» (University of Freiburg, Spokesperson: Professor Ilse Storch)

RTG «ProMoAge — Protein Modification: A Key Mechanism for Ageing» (University of Halle-Wittenberg, Spokesperson: Professor Andreas Simm; Additional applicant university: University of Jena)

RTG «Integrity and Collaboration in Dynamic Sensor Networks» (University of Hanover, Spokesperson: Professor Steffen Schön)

RTG «Asymptotic Invariants and Limits of Groups and Spaces» (KIT Karlsruhe, Spokesperson: Professor Roman Sauer; Additional applicant university: University of Heidelberg)

RTG «Cultures of Critique: Forms, Media, Effects» (University of Lüneburg, Spokesperson: Professor Beate Söntgen)

RTG «Minor Cosmopolitanisms» (University of Potsdam, Spokesperson: Professor Lars Eckstein)

IRTG «Droplet Interaction Technologies (DROPIT)» (University of Stuttgart, Spokesperson: Professor Bernhard Weigand; Cooperation partners: Università degli Studi di Bergamo, Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy)

RTG «Identity and Heritage» (University of Weimar, Spokesperson: Professor Hans-Rudolf Meier; Additional applicant university: TU Berlin)


Further Information

Media contact:

DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2109,

Further information may also be provided by the spokespersons of the Research Training Groups.

Programme contact at the DFG Head Office:

Dr. Armin Krawisch, Head of Research Careers Division

Tel. +49 228 885-2424,

More detailed information on the funding programme and on DFG-funded Research Training Groups can be found at: