Inflammatory and immune responses in the brain and how cancer cells adapt to their surroundings in people with lymphatic diseases are two of the focus areas for 10 new Collaborative Research Centres to be set up at the beginning of next year by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinshaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the central public funding body for research in Germany.

The new centres, two of which are Transregional Collaborative Research Centres based at more than one location, will receive a total of 74.4 million euros in funding over the next four years, as well as a 20% programme overhead to cover the indirect costs of the projects. As the DFG’s grants committee has agreed to maintain 26 existing Collaborative Research Centres for an additional funding period, the Foundation will be supporting 259 centres in all as of 1 January 2008. These will be funded to the tune of 403 million euros next year, plus the aforementioned 20% overhead.

Among the new initiatives, Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 43, which involves scientists from Berlin and Göttingen, will be looking at ‘The Brain as a Target of Inflammatory Processes’, including the role played by inflammation in traumatic and neurodegenerative processes. The main focus will be on diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. The host institution is Charité University Hospital, which is part of Humboldt University and the Free University of Berlin.

The same institution will host Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 54, concerned with ‘Growth and Survival, Plasticity and Cellular Interactivity of Lymphatic Malignancies’. Participating researchers from Berlin and Munich will combine animal experiments and patient-oriented research in an effort to develop new therapeutic approaches to conditions such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myelomas and other malignant diseases of the lymphatic system.

One of the single-location centres (Collaborative Research Centre 780), to be hosted by Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg, will investigate the ‘Synaptic Mechanisms of Neuronal Network Function’. Researchers from Freiburg and Basel will use approaches from molecular biology, neurophysiology, genetics, anatomy and clinical medicine to address key issues in the functioning of neuronal networks.

These will be examined in terms of the structural aspects of individual synapses, the analysis of functional networks, and the modelling and analysis of individual diseases. The hope is that the projects will lead to a better understanding of, and more effective therapy for, neuronal diseases such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy.