Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz participates in new Collaborative Research Center

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved the establishment of a new Collaborative Research Center (CRC) in the field of materials science, in which Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is participating with a pioneering subproject. In addition, an existing CRC coordinated by JGU was approved for a further funding period of four years.

We are thrilled with the approval of the new Collaborative Research Center 1487 coordinated by TU Darmstadt, a partner of JGU within the Rhine-Main Universities (RMU) alliance. Our researchers here in Mainz will be investigating questions related to climate and the environment.”

Professor Georg Krausch, JGU President

The CRC 1487 in the field of materials science will focus on the potential of iron to replace metallic raw materials of concern for the environment. “The new CRC will benefit from interdisciplinary collaborative research,” emphasized Krausch. “Our scientists here in Mainz will contribute their expertise to solving these questions that are so crucial for the future.”

CRC 1487: Iron, upgraded!

Finding alternatives for rare, toxic, or otherwise environmentally harmful elements is crucial for our society and the larger world in the effort to frame a more sustainable future. Iron can play an important role in this since it is widely available, affordable, sustainable, and has many unique chemical characteristics. However, there are also problems involved in increasing the use of ferric compounds such as long-term stability issues and characteristics optimization. The new Collaborative Research Center “Iron, upgraded!” targets these challenges. For iron to serve as a building block of the future, it must be enhanced so it can replace catalytic precious or rare earth metals as a more affordable and less resource-intensive option. The CRC will feature TU Darmstadt as its speaker university, with participation by universities in Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mainz, and Marburg as well as the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion. The now-approved CRC also represents a joint achievement by the strategic Rhine-Main Universities (RMU) alliance. The German Research Foundation will be providing around EUR 10 million over the next four years for the CRC 1487.

“Iron offers us a chance to replace catalysts and magnetic materials and thus promote waste management in ways that are more sustainable for the environment and preserve resources,” explained Professor Angela Möller from the JGU Department of Chemistry. Her project will be focused on synthesis and material characterization, in particular with regard to oxidic materials and their catalytic and magnetic properties. Plans call for Mössbauer spectroscopy to play a major role in the characterization of the materials. “This method is a key part of our participation in the CRC, with fundamental links to various other subprojects,” noted Möller. “We hope we can open up new avenues of investigation into issues of relevance for the climate and the environment.” Angela Möller has held the Carl Zeiss endowed professorship in “Oxidic Materials” at JGU since 2015.

CRC 1292: Targeting convergent mechanisms of inefficient immunity in tumors and chronic infections

The body’s natural immune system has highly refined mechanisms for identifying and eliminating invasive pathogens and abnormal cells. When these mechanisms are ineffective or are circumvented, however, tumors can form and chronic infections arise. For the past four years, the Collaborative Research Center 1292 has been exploring the precise processes involved in this so-called immune evasion. The researchers aim to obtain a more fundamental understanding of the functioning of the inefficient immune system, a key step in developing innovative immunotherapy approaches over the long term. The German Research Foundation is now renewing its support for this CRC headed by the Mainz University Medical Center for an additional four years, including around EUR 13 million in funding.

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Gemma Wilson

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