A global band for research
How can novel computational methods be used to decipher the genetic causes of psychiatric disorders? To what extent does religion contribute to the formation of ecological awareness? What role do atmospheric aerosols play in the survival of bacteria on plants? These innovative projects are tackled by the University of Bonn together with renowned partner universities around the world. The funds for these Collaborative Research Grants come from the Excellence Strategy – a multi-million funding competition of the German federal and state governments, from which the University of Bonn emerged as the most successful university in all of Germany.
„We invest in people. We foster networks. We create impact.“ is the motto with which Bonn advanced to become a University of Excellence. The Collaborative Research Grants are one example of this success story. With the University of Melbourne, the University of St Andrews, Emory University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as its strategic partner universities, a total of ten projects will be funded with up to 40,000 euros each from the University of Bonn’s Excellence Funds.
The Alma mater in Bonn runs the funding program together with its partner universities, which also contribute financially. „The Collaborative Research Grants create a very close and sustainable cooperation,“ says Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch. „For the University of Bonn, this funding program is therefore an important instrument for intensifying key global partnerships at research level, bringing together institutes and researchers from partner universities in innovative projects, and expanding cooperation to other faculties and departments.“ The program is furthermore intended to strengthen the Transdisciplinary Research Areas. These are six university-wide and cross-faculty research networks in which different disciplines come together to jointly research socially relevant topics of the future.
Project example: Research into psychiatric disorders
One of the projects funded by the Collaborative Research Grants is led by Prof. Dr. Markus Nöthen, Director of the Institute of Human Genetics, together with a colleague at the University of St Andrews (Scotland) on the genetic causes of psychiatric disorders. These cover a wide spectrum and include developmental disorders such as autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), as well as mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. „All of these diseases have a significant underlying genetic component,“ says Nöthen. In recent years, international consortia have successfully pooled and analyzed genetic data from many patients. This helped to identify a steadily growing number of genetic risk factors. The next step is to translate this growing body of data into information that can improve the treatment and management of psychiatric disorders in the future.
New methods are to be applied using computer-assisted processes. „Machine learning makes it possible to analyze a wide range of genetic and clinical data simultaneously and identify patterns,“ adds Dr. Silvia Paracchini of the School of Medicines at the University of St Andrews. Both partner universities complement each other’s competencies and are establishing a new collaborative platform. „This platform has the potential to be adapted to a wide range of human diseases,“ Nöthen says. The first meeting of the participating researchers, held virtually due to the pandemic, took place recently. A face-to-face meeting in Bonn is planned for the fall.
New round of applications
After the resounding response that the Collaborative Research Grants received among Bonn researchers, they are now being offered again until September 30, 2021, as are other funding programs for the internationalization of research: www.uni-bonn.de/foerderprogramme.
An overview of all projects funded by Collaborative Research Grants from 2021 onwards with the partner universities of the University of Bonn:
– Prof. Dagmar Wachten (Institute of Innate Immunity), „Compartmentalized ciliary signaling: in vitro models to study polycystic kidney disease“, Partner: Prof. Tamara Caspary (Dept. of Human Genetics)
– Prof. Bert Roebben (Department of Religious Education, Adult Faith Formation and Homiletics): „Religion and the Cultivation of Ecological Consciousness: Place, Narrative, and Performance,“ Partner: Prof. Jennifer R. Ayres (Candler School of Theology)
– Prof. Achim Hoerauf (Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, University Hospital Bonn): „Efficacy of the antibiotic corallopyronin A against the sexually transmitted infections gonorrhea and chlamydia,“ Partner: Prof. William Shafer (Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem:
– PD Dr. Jürgen Burkhardt (Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation): „The surprising role of atmospheric aerosols: supporting bacterial life on plant leaf surfaces,“ Partner: Dr. Nadav Kashtan (Dept. of Plant Pathology and Microbiology)
– Prof. Katrin Paeschke (Dept. of Oncology, Hematology, Immuno-Oncology & Rheumatology; University Hospital Bonn): „The role of G4 structures and the helicase RTEL1 in telomere maintenance,“ Partner: Prof. Yehuda Tzfati (Dept. of Genetics, The Silberman Institute of Life Sciences)
University of Melbourne:
– Prof. Annaliese Mason (Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation): „New rapeseed/canola lines with novel sources of resistance to blackleg disease,“ Partner: Dr. Angela Van de Wouw (School of BioSciences)
– Prof. Tanja Schneider (Institute for Pharmaceutical Microbiology): „Cryo-ET meets bacterial ‚Achilles‘ Heel‘ – visualization of the daptomycin killing mechanism at molecular resolution“, Partner: Dr. Debnath Ghosal (Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)
– Prof. Gernot Michael Mueller (Institute for Classical and Romance Philology): „Between universalism and regionalization. Humanistic historiography in the 16th century in France and Germany on the horizon of early modern nationalism,“ Partner: Prof. Véronique Duché (School of Languages and Linguistics)
University of St Andrews:
– Prof. Dr. Christian Moser (Institute of German Language and Literature, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies): „Literature, the Arts, and the Transformations of the Public Sphere, 1715-1815,“ Partner: Prof. Seán Allan (School of Modern Languages)
– Prof. Dr. Markus Nöthen (Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Bonn): „New computational methods to dissect complex disorders,“ Partner: Dr. Silvia Paracchini (School of Medicines)
Prof. Dr. Markus Nöthen
Institut für Humangenetik