Strong Partners for Implementation of Institutional Strategy
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Press info 170 » Press release (german) » Press & PR office
Bochum, 13.06.2008
No 170
Strong Partners for Implementation of Institutional Strategy
Funding by NRW Ministry of Innovation and Stiftung Mercator
40 M Euros for Excellence Development

The NRW Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology and the Stiftung Mercator will support the implementation of Ruhr University's institutional strategy with 30 m Euros; an additional 10 m EUR will come from the university’s own funds or third party funding. The partners have joined in a public private partnership to implement the university’s institutional strategy to promote top-level research. Prof. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Innovation, said: “In the excellence initiative, Ruhr University showed which research strength it already possesses. The university's concept for its future development - although it has finally been rejected – was praised by all reviewers." Two clusters funded by the Federal government with 20 m EUR will allow comprehensive research in the life sciences and material sciences. The funds of the Stiftung Mercator will help to create two “Mercator Research Groups“. “Today, the Stiftung Mercator granted Ruhr University Bochum a total of ten million Euros for the creation of two Mercator Research Groups for the next six years. We are supporting these groups because the concept of enabling young professors to work independently in a team of internationally renowned scientists has convinced us. In a public private partnership with the state government, our funds can be used optimally by a matching of funds for the benefit of Ruhr-Universität Bochum“, stated Mr Rüdiger Frohn, chairman of the Stiftung Mercator's board. “We are very pleased and thank our partners that we have the chance to implement essential parts of our institutional strategy“, added Rector Prof. Dr. Elmar Weiler.
Cluster “Sensory Life Sciences – From Protein to Neurocognition”
Scientists of the faculties of biology, chemistry, psychology, medicine and computer sciences investigate the reception and processing of external and endogenous signals in living cells in the cluster "Sensory Life Sciences – From Protein to Neurocognition“. Its purpose is the decryption of molecular reaction chains and the resulting system behaviour up to highly cognitive processes, such as memory functions. This means a close cooperation of the established RUB focus disciplines, protein research and system neurosciences, in order to carry out research in a central issue of the life sciences in an interdisciplinary way from the molecule to the organism, especially with respect to humans. The protein scientists and neuroscientists on the campus of Ruhr University want to cooperate with the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, the TechnischeUniversität Dortmund as well as the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Cluster “Small Scale Interface Dominated Materials”
Cutting-edge research in material sciences is carried out at several faculties at Ruhr University, especially in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and information technology, chemistry, physics, and geosciences. Now, these activities are to be focussed in an overarching cluster for material sciences, together with the implementation of the new institute for material sciences ICAMS (Interdisciplinary Centre for Advanced Materials Simulation). It is planned to extend already existing cooperations with industrial partners and external research centres, in particular the Max Planck Institutes in Düsseldorf (MPI für Eisenforschung) and Mülheim (MPI for Bioanorganische Chemie and MPI für Kohlenforschung). Novel technology platforms for transfer activities will be established, so-called ACCs, “Applied Competence Clusters“, which include a “Terahertz Technology” ACC and a “Plasma Technology” ACC. The focus of research will consider both basic and application issues, such as the design and life cycle of micro-and nanoscale machinery and materials, thin film materials, interfacial surface catalysis, plasma technologies for surfaces, the development and applications of terahertz spectroscopy and ab initio materials simulation (ICAMS).

Two Mercator Research Groups
The funds of the Stiftung Mercator Foundation will help Ruhr University to establish two “Mercator Research Groups”, where young professors will independently work on a topic with an interdisciplinary focus. They will be supported and advised by a number of alternating “seniors” with an outstanding scientific career. The young researchers select and invite their “senior”, e.g. a renowed professor emeritus from a university at home or abroad. The first Mercator Research Group to be established will be “Structure of Memory “, in which three new professors and eight doctoral candidates will carry out research in three working groups centring around functional architecture, neurobiology and theory of memory. They ask questions such as: Which brain structures contribute to semantic and episodic memory? How do we select, which information to retain and which to forget? Are there aspects of memory that are only possessed by humans? The group is an essential part of the “Center for Synergic Neurosciences“. The unique research organisation and excellent equipment of the project are to lead to a breakthrough in our understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying memory. The centralized training of doctoral candidates will take place in the International Graduate School of Neuroscience (IGSN) and the university-wide “Research School“, a project of the excellence initiative. A second Mercator Research Group will be established in the Humanities in 2009. The planned duration of the groups is six years.

“Research Campus RUB“ Becomes Reality
The research work of the two interdisciplinary clusters is based on the work of five research departments, which will be created and linked with each other in the course of the implementation of the institutional strategy: Life sciences involved with its research departments "Protein Networks" and "Center of Synergic Neurosciences", the Natural and Engineering Sciences with the departments "Integrity of Small Scale Systems", "Interfacial Systems Chemistry" and "Plasmas with Complex Interactions". Similar to the collaborative research centres of the German Research Foundation (DFG), the research departments focus on specific topics, have an interdisciplinary approach, are established for a limited period of time and reflect particularly strong research areas of the university.

About Stiftung Mercator
The Stiftung Mercator is one of the large European foundations. It initiates and assists projects that promote better educational opportunities in schools and universities. In the spirit of Gerhard Mercator, it supports undertakings which embody the idea of open-mindedness and tolerance through intercultural encounters, encouraging the sharing of knowledge and culture. The foundation provides a platform for new ideas to enable people – regardless of their national, cultural or social background – to develop their personality, become involved in society and make the most of the opportunities available to them. The Stiftung Mercator adopts an entrepreneurial, international and professional approach to its work. It has a particular affinity with the Ruhr area, the home of its founding family.

Further information  
Prof. Dr. Elmar Weiler, President of Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Tel. +49 234/32-22927,

Dr. Thomas Koch, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Head of Research Office, Dezernat 1, Tel. +49 234/32-29142,

André Zimmermann, NRW Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology, Tel. + 49 211/896-4790,

Christiane Reusch, Head of Communication, Mercator Foundation, Tel. 0201/24522-42,
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