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Rector Prof. Eitel: “An invaluable opportunity to aim at goals that would otherwise have been unattainable”

19 October 2007

University of Heidelberg successful in all three funding lines of the Initiative for Excellence


Enthusiasm was immense at the University of Heidelberg after the announcement that proposals for all three lines of funding in the Initiative for Excellence organised by the Federal and state governments had succeeded in convincing the prestigious international review panels involved in the selection process. "The University squared up to this contest with commitment and élan,” said Rector Professor Dr. Bernhard Eitel in Heidelberg. "We in Heidelberg see the approval for our Institutional Strategy as an invaluable opportunity to tackle new projects and aim at goals that would otherwise have been unattainable.” The Rectorate responded to today’s announcement of the results of the second round of the Initiative by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Science Council (WR) with immense gratification and a vote of thanks to all those actively involved.

The Rector went on to say that the University now has good prospects of enhancing its international competitiveness and visibility over and against other leading research institutions. The Rectorate presented its warmest congratulations to the successful applicants in the other two lines of funding. Two graduate schools ("Molecular and Cellular Biology” and "Scientific Computing”) and one cluster of excellence ("Europe and Asia”) have been selected for funding in the second leg of the Initiative.

A total of 44 and 40 proposals, respectively, from all over Germany were submitted for the first and second lines of funding. In the first round of the contest last year Heidelberg had already been successful with its proposals for "Fundamental Physics” and "Cellular Networks”. Together with this year’s successes the University can now forge ahead and further enhance its academic excellence, the Rector said.

Professor Eitel emphasised that the funding for the University’s Institutional Strategy ("Heidelberg: Realising the Potential of a Comprehensive University”), which for the present round had been placed on a broader academic footing, will substantially encourage the University of Heidelberg to extend the range of subjects it offers even further and to face up to the international competition in higher education as a traditional universitas and a strong partner on the international plane. Accordingly, the University will act on this Strategy to promote interdisciplinary dialogue not only within individual subjects but also by transcending traditional department boundaries and cultures. Further goals, the Rector concluded, are clear-cut career prospects for young academics and the enhancement of the University’s presence in national and international networks.

Alongside its Institutional Strategy, the University of Heidelberg was successful with proposals for the following Cluster of Excellence and Graduate Schools:

Cluster of Excellence

Asia and Europe in a Global Context: Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows
Spokespersons: Madeleine Herren, Axel Michaelis, Rudolf G. Wagner

The Cluster discusses historical changes and inversions in the relations between the cultures of Asia and Europe in terms of asymmetrical transfer in a global context. "Asymmetry” is introduced as a cultural studies concept with a heuristic function. It is used not to criticise the absence of symmetries but to describe the dynamics of cultural flows. The interdisciplinary research design centres on multi-media translations and language skills, studies historical development processes and their effects on the present, and sets out to develop a methodology for globally interlinked regional studies with a view to investigating the significance of notions about the world in their respective scope for the range of asymmetries encountered in the relevant cases. The approach will be verified in central interlinked research fields, i.e. in the areas of the State (governance and administration), civil society (public spheres), health and the environment, and the historical awareness behind the political implementation of traditions (historicities and heritage).

Graduate Schools

The Hartmut Hoffmann-Berling International Graduate School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Spokespersons: Elmar Schiebel, Michael Lanzer

The headlong developments taking place in the life sciences and the resulting potential for medical and biotechnological applications are a powerful motivation notably for young people to take an active part in research on biological processes. In the framework of an internationally visible Graduate School in the field of molecular and cellular biology, the Faculties of Life Sciences and Medicine of the University of Heidelberg, together with scientists from chemistry and mathematics and non-university institutions like the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Medical Research and the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), plan to create new structures in doctoral education and training and thus assume a leading role in providing opportunities for young scientists.

Heidelberg Graduate School of Mathematical and Computational Methods for the Sciences
Spokespersons: Hans Georg Bock, Rolf Rannacher

With its central methodical components mathematical modelling, simulation and optimisation, scientific computing has developed into a key technology for identifying scientific and technical challenges and tackling those challenges successfully. Problems as different as blueprints for efficient fuel cells, understanding the dynamics of cancer, optimum control of combined-cycle power plants, the prognosis of pesticide degradation in the soil or analysing the risks threatening historical buildings all require a massive deployment of cross-disciplinary expertise and the use of mathematical and computer-assisted methods. The interdisciplinary approach implicit in scientific computing is widely considered to be the third "cornerstone” of science, alongside experimentation and theory. We badly need young academics who have benefited from outstanding training in these methods and their applications. This need is as pressing in business and industry as it is in higher education and research. The Graduate School proposed here is designed to meet this need. For this purpose, a structured, interdisciplinary education and training programme has been designed, encouraging the development of new and even more efficient methods for scientific computing, importing these methods into new areas of academic endeavour and creating additional cooperative research structures at the University of Heidelberg by providing new incentives for research and education. The three guiding principles for doctoral education at the Graduate School are scientific excellence – interdisciplinarity – internationality.

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
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