31. March 2022

State of NRW promotes research networks State of NRW promotes research networks

University of Bonn is the lead partner in "iBehave" and is involved in two other joint projects

The North Rhine-Westphalian state government is supporting five outstanding research networks in pioneering research fields with a total of 81.2 million euros. Among them is "iBehave" under the leadership of the University of Bonn, which is being funded with around 20 million euros. The University of Excellence is involved in two other collaborative projects: NRW-FAIR and NRW-CANTAR. 

Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow
Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow - from the Institute of Physiology II at the University of Bonn is the spokesperson for "iBehave". © Photo: Astrid Eckert
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"We are very pleased that our iBehave collaborative project is now being funded by the North Rhine-Westphalian state government," says Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow from the Institute of Physiology II at the University of Bonn. "Together with our collaborative partners, we now have the opportunity to fundamentally study the behavioral adaptations of humans and animals to their environment at the neurological level."

Humans and animals live in a constantly changing environment. The ability to flexibly adapt behavior to changing demands is critical for all organisms to thrive and survive. Consequently, humans and animals have evolved the ability to make decisions that weigh benefits and costs based on expectations. Difficulties in making such decisions and in implementing them through adaptive motor control are central features of many neurological diseases, yet the underlying processes in the brain are poorly understood. In iBehave, researchers are collaborating across disciplines and species to study survival-related behaviors and their underlying neural networks.

"We want to use computer science and artificial intelligence to better understand how the brain controls behaviors such as decision-making," says Prof. Grunwald Kadow, who is also a member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Life and Health" at the University of Bonn. In the next step, the researchers want to transfer their findings to the diagnosis and prediction of neurological diseases in humans. In the medium term, iBehave researchers want to take their technologies and findings out of the lab and into the clinic. "We are convinced that our methods of analyzing behavior and brain activity could represent or bring about a paradigm shift in diagnosis and therapy."

The aim of the funding program is to sustainably strengthen existing topic-related and cross-location research networks of universities, universities of applied sciences and non-university research institutes, to expand them and to increase their visibility and international competitiveness. The support is scheduled to run for four years from August 2022.

In addition to the University of Bonn, iBehave involves the University of Cologne, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases e. V. (DZNE), the Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, the Max Planck Institute for the Neurobiology of Behavior - caesar and the Technical University of Aachen.

Research network NRW-FAIR

Clarifying the origin of matter from fundamental particles - these are the visions driving researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and their partners - including Prof. Dr. Ulrike Thoma from the Helmholtz Institute for Radiation and Nuclear Physics at the University of Bonn. The NRW-FAIR network, under the consortium leadership of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Wiedner from the RUB Faculty of Physics and Astronomy, is also being funded by the NRW Ministry of Culture and Science in the "Networks 2021" funding program with around 16.5 million euros for four years.

At the center of the NRW-FAIR network is the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research, FAIR for short. This billion-euro science center in Darmstadt is one of the largest ever built in Europe. The goal of those involved in the network is to investigate a stubborn challenge: the emergence of matter from fundamental particles in the otherwise successful Standard Model. "To do this, we need to develop technologies and methods that have never been used before," explains consortium leader Ulrich Wiedner.

The researchers are planning several workshops with international guests as well as an extensive outreach program to inform the general public and inspire future students to pursue physics. The network brings together 32 physics professors from the RUB, the University of Bonn, the Westphalian Wilhelms University of Münster, the Bergische University of Wuppertal and the Research Center Jülich.

CANTAR (CANcer TARgeting)

The new research network CANTAR (CANcer TARgeting) in the field of oncology aims to develop new chemical substances to identify specific driving pathways of cancer and to explore how cancer can "escape" the immune system. The lead partner is the University of Cologne, with Humboldt Professor Dr. Henning Walczak of the Center for Biochemistry as designated spokesperson. Prof. Dr. Michael Hölzel, director of the Institute for Experimental Oncology at the University Hospital Bonn, is involved. CANTAR is funded with a total of 19.4 million euros for the funding period.

The network bundles highly complementary knowledge available in NRW and builds on already established collaborations among the partners. It pursues a holistic approach in which researchers from chemistry, biology and medicine work together in a way that is unique in Europe. The focus is on the discovery and development of substances that act specifically on cancer cells and spare normal tissue. In addition, active substances are being developed that intervene in cancer-specific metabolic processes or make tumor cells more visible to the patient's own immune system. CANTAR bridges the gap between basic research and translational clinical cancer research.

The University of Duisburg-Essen, TU Dortmund University, the Universities of Bonn and Düsseldorf, RWTH Aachen University, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund are involved as co-applicants.


Website iBehave: http://ibehave.nrw/

Press release of the University of Bochum on NRW-FAIR: https://news.rub.de/presseinformationen/wissenschaft/2022-03-31-forschungsfoerderung-die-rub-feiert-zwei-erfolge-im-foerderprogramm-netzwerke-2021

Press release of the University of Cologne on NRW-CANTAR: https://portal.uni-koeln.de/universitaet/aktuell/presseinformationen/detail/uni-koeln-bei-antraegen-fuer-neue-forschungsnetzwerke-erfolgreich

Press release of the MKW NRW: https://www.mkw.nrw/81-millionen-euro-landesfoerderung-fuer-fuenf-exzellente-forschungsnetzwerke-nordrhein-westfalen

Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow
Prof. Dr. Ilona Grunwald Kadow - from the Institute of Physiology II at the University of Bonn is the spokesperson for "iBehave". © Photo: Astrid Eckert
Under the leadership of the University of Bonn,
Under the leadership of the University of Bonn, - the "iBehave" research network is investigating how the brain controls the behavior of humans and animals. © Figure: iBehave
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