24 November 2023
Decision by the German Research FoundationSuccess for 2 Collaborative Research Centers at Universität Hamburg
“The cooperation between mathematics and physics has already long been an important focus area at Universität Hamburg and it characterizes both the core research area Particle, Astro- and Mathematical Physics as well as the Cluster of Excellence Quantum Universe. The new CRC continues with this tradition, showing how successful it is. I congratulate everyone on this achievement. My heartfelt congratulations, as well, to the researchers at the CRC Immune-Mediated Glomerular Diseases. An extension for a third funding period confirms the extraordinary achievement in the field of kidney research,” says the University’s president, Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren.
Further cultivating the close, ongoing cooperation between mathematics and physics in Hamburg is a major goal of the new CRC Höhere Strukturen, Modulräume und Integrabilität. “The CRC fosters innovative mathematical basic research that will provide us with new tools for understanding fundamental physical theories,” explains Prof. Dr. Jörg Teschner from the Department of Mathematics at Universität Hamburg. He submitted the grant proposal with a group of 15 colleagues. The CRC’s hoped-for research findings should also contribute to the Cluster of Excellence Quantum Universe in their efforts to understand phenomena such as the emergence of black holes.
“We are deepening research areas in which mathematics and physics reach their limits, with the aim of pushing these limits further,” says Teschner. For example, he continues, a new kind of mathematics is necessary for understanding the basic physical theories of elementary particles such as quantum field theory and string theory so deeply that important features of the world become comprehensible.
That this is still not often the case is not, presumably, because the available theories are wrong: “Rather, we don’t understand the effects predicted by the theories in many areas that well,” explains Teschner and he draws a comparison to meteorology. There, the basic equations are known in principle. Yet the interplay between the various elements of weather events is so complicated that longer-term predictions are still not possible. Often, the situation is similar for the fundamental theories of elementary particles.
Mathematics and physics researchers at Universität Hamburg and DESY applied jointly for the new CRC. Both disciplines expect highly useful findings from one another. “Issues and ideas from physics provide mathematics with entirely new research questions. These should ultimately make basic aspects of the geometry of complicated 3- and 4-dimensional space, for example, comprehensible. On the other hand, physicists need new mathematics to understand the innermost workings of nature,” says Teschner. Another central goal of the CRC is to support doctoral and early career researchers. This should also help Hamburg continue to foster its internationally outstanding position as a locus of this kind of research.
The German Research Foundation announced the new CRCs and the funding extension at the same time. The University’s CRC Immune-Mediated Glomerular Diseases, which has been up and running since 2015, will be entering its third funding period. The goal of the CRC is to find out more about the development and progress of inflammatory kidney diseases and the development of new treatments. In addition to Universität Hamburg, the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the Bonn and Jena university medical centers are also involved. The CRC’s spokesperson is Prof. Dr. Ulf Panzer from the Faculty of Medicine at Universität Hamburg. Researchers in the fields of nephrology, immunology, and pathology work cooperation in the multidisciplinary CRC.
In particular, new treatment concepts for autoimmune kidney diseases will be developed to prevent the emergence of kidney deficiences requiring dialysis. To date, autoimmune kidney diseases, which can develop and manifest very differently, have generally been treated with corticosteroids and cytotoxic medications. These, however, can have strong side effects and the treatments often fail. There is an urgent need for the development of new and more specific treatment strategies.