DFG Establishes 14 New Priority Programmes

Topics range from sensor-integrating machine elements and the systems ecology of soils to the theoretical principles of deep learning / Around €85 million for three years


The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is to establish 14 new Priority Programmes (PP) for 2021. This was decided by the DFG Senate in a written process. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the committee meetings originally scheduled for the end of March could not be held in the usual way, so the decisions were made using a staggered written process. The 14 new groups, which were selected from 49 submitted initiatives, will receive a total of approximately €85 million for an initial three-year period. There will also be a 22% programme allowance for indirect project costs.

The newly approved Priority Programmes (PPs) cover the entire spectrum of disciplines, from humanities and social sciences to engineering sciences, life sciences and natural sciences. The researched topics range from sensor-integrating machine elements and the systems ecology of soils to the theoretical principles of deep learning and replicability in the behavioural, social and cognitive sciences. Each of the programmes describes the overriding topic of a PP. Over the coming months, the DFG will announce a separate call for proposals for the various groups. Proposals will then be evaluated to determine their scientific quality and their contribution to the main topic.

The purpose of the Priority Programmes is to examine fundamental scientific issues relating to particularly topical or emerging areas of research. All the programmes are highly interdisciplinary and are notable for their application of innovative methods. Supporting early career researchers is a key aspect of PPs, and all new groups also have an equal opportunity concept. Priority Programmes are funded for six years. Currently, a total of 99 PPs are being funded.

The new Priority Programmes
(by discipline and in alphabetical order by coordinator’s university)

Humanities and Social Sciences

  • “META-REP: A metascientific programme for the analysis and optimisation of replicability in the behavioural, social and cognitive sciences”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Mario Gollwitzer, LMU Munich)

Engineering sciences

  • “Creation of synergies in customised mixtures of heterogeneous powders”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lutz Mädler, University of Bremen)
  • “Customised synthetic minerals (EnAM) – a geometallurgical tool for recycling critical elements from residue streams”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Urs Peuker, Technical University of Freiberg)
  • “Sensor-integrating machine elements as precursors to comprehensive digitalisation”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karsten Stahl, TU Munich)
  • “Robust coupling of continuum biomechanical in-silico models for active biological systems as a preliminary stage of clinical applications – co-design of modelling, numerics and usability”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Oliver Röhrle, Ph.D., University of Stuttgart)

Life sciences

  • “New concepts for the virus-host interaction in prokaryotes – from individual cells to microbial communities”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Julia Frunzke, Forschungszentrum Jülich)
  • “Ferroptosis: From basic research to clinical application”
    (Coordinator: Dr. Marcus Conrad, Helmholtz Zentrum München)
  • “Systems ecology of soils – the microbiome and boundary conditions modulate energy discharge”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Sören Thiele-Bruhn, University of Trier)
  • “Physics of parasitism”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Markus Engstler, University of Würzburg)

Natural sciences

  • “Machine learning in process engineering. Knowledge meets data: Interpretability, extrapolation, reliability, trust”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Mitsos, RWTH Aachen University)
  • “Energy-efficient power electronics, GaNius”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sibylle Dieckerhoff, TU Berlin)
  • “Theoretical principles of deep learning"
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Gitta Kutyniok, TU Berlin)
  • “Tropical climate variability and coral reefs. A past to future perspective on current rates of change at ultra-high resolution”
    (Coordinator: Dr. Thomas Felis, University of Bremen)
  • “Integrated terahertz systems with innovative functionality (INTEREST)”
    (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Ullrich Pfeiffer, University of Wuppertal)


(Source: DFG)