Six German-Russian Research Groups Receive Three Years of Funding

A new funding instrument is launched in German-Russian research cooperation. The Helmholtz Association and the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) have selected the first six joint research groups for their "Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups" funding program. For a period of three years, each will receive funding of up to EUR 130,000 per year respectively from the Helmholtz Association’s Initiative and Networking Fund, and an equal amount of funding from the RSF. The first of a total of three calls for proposals focused on the fields of "Biomedicine" and "Information and Data Science".

Scientists from a Helmholtz Center and a Russian partner respectively are involved in the selected research projects. "I am delighted that we have been able to select six very promising groups from the numerous high-profile applications", says Helmholtz President Otmar D. Wiestler. "The mission of the Helmholtz Association is to find solutions for the major and pressing issues facing society, science, and the economy. International cooperation is an essential element in achieving this. I am very confident that the researchers selected will work together excellently, be highly productive, and achieve results soon."

The "Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups" builds on a partnership between the Helmholtz Association and the Russian Science Foundation. "Russia is an important partner for us in scientific cooperation", says Otmar D. Wiestler. "Our new funding tool is a valuable component of this." A focal point of the Joint Research Groups is the advancement of young scientists in both countries. A total of three calls for proposals are planned within the framework of the "Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups" program. Six bilateral projects will be selected during each round respectively. The second call for proposals is already open. The application deadline is November 30, 2017, and comprises the two topics of "Climate Research" and "Energy Storage and Grid Integration". Finally, the last call for proposals in 2019 is to comprise the topics of "Materials and Emerging Technologies" and the "Structure and Dynamics of Matter".

The six research groups funded in the current round are:

1. Compton X-ray microscopy of biological specimens

The aim of this cooperation between Tomsk State University (TSU) and the Deutsches Elektronen- Synchrotron (DESY) is to develop a new high-energy X-ray camera for Compton imaging, a very promising new technique for studying biological specimens. In contrast to today's destructive techniques, Compton X-ray microscopy is a very gentle form of investigation: The structure of entire cells can be mapped without severely damaging the highly sensitive bioprobes. The main component required for this is a high-speed pixel detector with GaAs sensors. Tomsk State University produces the best GaAs material in the world, and DESY has the know-how to develop and apply appropriate detectors. Point of contact: DESY, Dr. Heinz Graafsma (subject area, 'Biomedicine'), contact: heinz.graafsma(at)desy.de

2. New avenues in information and data science:advanced imaging applications at the XFEL and cryo-EM frontier

The project is a cooperation between the Kurchatov Institute Moscow and the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY). Within the context of this collaboration, a powerful data processing platform is to be developed, which, among other things, is to be used on the recently opened European XFEL X-ray laser. Here, the latest machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence methods will be applied. The platform will provide a tool for scientists to analyze the complex measurement data from X-ray lasers or cryo-electron microscopes quickly - processes that currently take months or even longer. The main advantage of this innovative platform is that it forms a complete processing pipeline from the experiment to the reconstructed 3D structure. This allows large amounts of data from X-ray laser scattering experiments that are currently possible to be efficiently evaluated. Point of contact: DESY, Prof. Dr. lvan Vartaniants (subject area 'Information and Data Science'), contact: Ivan.Vartaniants(at)desy.de

3. Molecular-genetic stratification of paediatric medulloblastoma for personalisation of treatment strategies

Medulloblastoma are the most common form of malignant brain tumor in children. The joint project by the Burdenko Neurosurgical Institute in Moscow and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) has been researching these for a long time. Although the five-year overall survival rates have now reached 70 percent, there is an urgent need to further improve the individual treatment options. The project aims to achieve short-term improvements in medulloblastoma treatment. The two laboratories have great expertise in this area and all the necessary facilities to achieve this goal together. Point of contact: DKFZ, Prof. Dr. Andrey Korshunov (subject area 'Biomedicine'), contact: a.korshunov(at)dkfz.de

4. Karlsruhe-Russian Astroparticle Data Life Cycle Initiative

In astroparticle physics, scientists must be able to exchange their highly detailed observations with each other in order to investigate and better understand complex processes in the Universe. The aim of this project of the Lomonosov University Moscow and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is to make publicly available a broad spectrum of data on high-energy cosmic rays. To this end, the participating researchers will set up a common data portal of two independent observatories. Contact person: KIT, Dr. Andreas Haungs (Theme area 'Information and Data Science'), Contact: andreas.haungs(at)kit.edu

5. Materials based on magnesium alloys for bioresorbable implants with anti-tumour activity

Together with the partners of the National University of Science and Technology, MISIS, NUST MISIS, and the N.N. Blokhin Russian Cancer Research Center, the Institute of Materials Research at the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht (HZG) wants to expand its developments in the area of biodegradable magnesium alloys to new applications. The project addresses a core problem in modern oncology: the application of local chemotherapy that aims to achieve an efficient concentration of anti-tumor agents in the intra- or peritumoral regions. The underlying approach to the project is expected to result in a cytoreduction of unresectable and chemo-resistant tumors, while at the same time reducing the side effects for the patients. Point of contact: HZG, Prof. Dr. Regine Willumeit-Römer (subject area 'Biomedicine'), contact: regine.willumeit(at)hzg.de

6. High-density ultrawideband transducer arrays for optoacoustic recording of fast brain activity from large neural populations

Brain diseases are one of the greatest health challenges for our society. The aim of this project between the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to develop a new generation of ultrasonic detection technology, which should make high-resolution recording of the activity of large neural cell populations possible. The new technology will provide neuroscientists with unprecedented insights into the living brain that would not be possible with comparable neuroimaging technologies. Point of contact: HMGU, Prof. Dr. Daniel Razansky, contact: daniel.razansky(at)helmholtz-muenchen.de

For further information on the Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups

The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science, and the economy through top-level scientific achievements in six research areas: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, and Aeronautics, Space, and Transport. With approximately 38,000 employees at 18 research centers and an annual budget of more than four billion euros, the Helmholtz Association is the largest scientific organization in Germany. Its work is rooted in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).

September 11, 2017

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