21/12/2021 // (14/21)
Einstein Foundation funds research in neuroscience, philosophy, and infrastructure policy, as well as Einstein Centers with a total sum of 19 million euros
The Einstein Foundation will support international researchers as Einstein Visiting Fellows at the Berlin universities in their work on stroke medicine, stochastics, auditory neurology, and philosophy. Funding is also being provided for an Einstein Research Project on the role of hydrogen in the energy transition, a project on the neurological causes of schizophrenia, an interdisciplinary Einstein Circle focusing on the concept of Otherness, and for nine fellows joining the Academic Freedom Program. Further funding is also being provided for Einstein Centers in the areas of neurosciences, of catalysis research, and of the interdisciplinary study of time (Einstein Chronoi Center). The approved research grants totaling 19 million euros will be rolled out until 2025.
The Einstein Foundation will support the following researchers as Einstein Visiting Fellows:
Alastair Buchan, Stroke Medicine, University of Oxford/Charité – Universitätsmedizin
Alastair Buchan is Professor of Stroke Medicine at the University of Oxford and will be collaborating with the Center for Stroke Research at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin, with fellow researchers at the NeuroCure excellence cluster, and with neurologist and Einstein Junior Fellow Philipp Mergenthaler. The stroke expert's group will research novel neuroprotective therapies and develop treatment strategies and drugs to prevent the death of additional nerve cells when blood flow is restricted in the brain. The most tried and tested method when this occurs is hypothermia, which involves artificially lowering body temperature. Alastair Buchan and his colleagues based at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin will investigate which molecular mechanisms play a role in hypothermic neuroprotection during stroke treatment, and how this is related to glucose metabolism in the brain. A further aim of Alastair Buchan's fellowship is to establish an international academy for the next generation of clinical scientists in neurological vascular research and to step up collaboration between top researchers from Oxford and Berlin.
Gary Froyland, Mathematics, University of New South Wales/Free University of Berlin
Gary Froyland is Professor of Mathematics at the University of New South Wales (Australia). He is aiming to use mathematical modeling to explore the predictability of complex dynamic phenomena in the oceans and atmosphere as well as in society. Gary Froyland will work with experts from the Free University of Berlin to develop an overarching mathematical abstraction in order to form connections between these very different areas of research. The researchers plan to investigate how atmospheric eddies and ocean currents form and disappear to help address unresolved questions in the field of fluid dynamics. Gary Froyland will also examine the extent to which these types of methods can be applied to modeling the emergence or breakup of social coherence.
David McAlpine, Neurosciences, Macquarie University/Charité – Universitätsmedizin
David McAlpine is Professor of Hearing, Language, and the Brain at Macquarie University, Sydney (Australia). He is currently focusing on a form of learning that occurs primarily through auditory perception, referred to as statistical learning. This unconscious process takes place continuously in the brain as it perceives and automatically scans the environment for information in order to learn how to distinguish important acoustic input from background noise. The team led by David McAlpine and Livia de Hoz (Charité - Universitätsmedizin) will work in conjunction with the Collaborative Research Center "Mechanisms and Disturbances in Memory Consolidation" to record the neuronal structures of the auditory brain in mice and investigate the types of noise that assist statistical learning. To achieve this, the project will focus on neuronal circuits and cellular mechanisms. The research group will also explore auditory-driven learning in humans to improve methods for diagnosing dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and autism, and to develop new treatments. In addition to improving our understanding of the cognitive processes involved in learning and memory, this research could also be used to develop new hearing aid technologies.
Alva Noë, Philosophy, University of California/Freie Universität Berlin
Alva Noë is Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Berkeley (USA). During his time at Freie Universität Berlin, Alva Noë will continue research on his “Reorganizing Ourselves” project, investigating approaches shared by art and philosophy as forms of re-flection. He understands both fields as practices which are key to organizing and reorganizing historicalcultural contexts, and will examine how they function as a creative means to help us scrutinize ourselves and explore possibilities for change. The philosopher bases his approach on the notion of entanglement, a concept defined by historian of science Donna Haraway. Together with his team of postgraduates at the Research Training Group (DFG) “Normativity, Critique, Change”, Professor Noë will analyze reorganizing strategies in art and philosophy through specific focal points, including different types of entanglement realized in both philosophy and the arts, with a focus on concrete practices and the value of aesthetic and philosophical reflections.
The Einstein Visiting Fellowship of Peter Schröder, computer graphics expert from the California Institute of Technology (USA), has been extended until 2023.
The Einstein Foundation is supporting nine additional international researchers for the Academic Freedom Program for up to two years as Einstein Junior Scholars or Einstein Guest Researchers.
The following Einstein Research Projects will receive funding:
A team from the Department of Economic and Infrastructure Policy at Technische Universität Berlin is collaborating with the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) on the project “Open-source modeling of the future role of renewable hydrogen in Germany and Europe”" to research the role green hydrogen will play in Germany’s energy transition, and how it can help to achieve climate neutrality. The project is headed by the economist Christian von Hirschhausen from Technische Universität Berlin, with infrastructure researcher Konstantin Löffler (also from Technische Universität), and Franziska Holz and Wolf-Peter Schill from the DIW’s Energy, Transportation, and Environment Department involved as principal investigators. The group will use open-source-based computational models to answer questions such as how much hydrogen needs to be produced to achieve decarbonization at both national and European levels, and how a shift to green hydrogen would affect electricity storage. The team will also focus on the problem of reconciling the needs of a flexible energy sector with the demand for energy efficiency. A further aim will be to strengthen international research collaborations, such as with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and the American University in Washington, D.C.
The project “Using Computational Modelling to Understand Large-Scale Networks and Circuit Dysfunctions in Schizophrenia”, which will be led by Peter Uhlhaas, Professor of Early Detection and Intervention of Mental Disorders at Charité – Universitätsmedizin, will investigate the neuronal basis of schizophrenia. The project will focus on the role that changes in certain neurotransmitter systems play in the development of the disease. Treatment of schizophrenic disorders is currently limited because their causes are insufficiently understood. While hallucinations can be reduced by medication, other common side effects, such as lack of drive and concentration and memory problems, remain difficult to treat. In order to improve treatment of schizophrenia, Peter Uhlhaas is working with a team from Technische Universität to gain a thorough understanding of the biological mechanisms that determine the disease. To achieve this, he is using neuroimaging methods along with an innovative brain simulation platform that allows electrophysiological data to be attributed to the underlying neuronal circuits and the neurotransmitter systems that are involved in this process.
A new Einstein Circle was included in the Foundation’s structural funding:
The Einstein Circle “Exploring otherness on Earth and beyond: Integrating perspectives from natural sciences, social sciences and humanities” aims to understand otherness from the perspective of the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. The aim is to integrate these different perspectives on otherness into a multidisciplinary approach. The collaborative research is intended to lay the foundations for understanding and dealing with the otherness which we will encounter in the future in the form of natural disasters, the colonization of other planets, and extraterrestrial life, addressing questions such as: How will these kinds of events affect our lives and how we see ourselves as human beings? And what role does media communication play in this? The hopes and well-founded expectations of the earth and planetary sciences disciplines that extraterrestrial life and habitats will be discovered in the very near future, along with the threat of natural disasters, pose huge challenges to humanity. Decades of research in the social sciences and humanities on the psychological, social, political, and religious dimensions involved in encountering otherness offer insights that can help us prepare for these scenarios.
In addition, approximately 13.7 million euros will be provided to the Einstein Center Neuroscience (until 2025), the Einstein Center Catalysis (until 2025) and the Einstein Center Chronoi (until 2024).
The Einstein Foundation Berlin is an independent, not-for-profit, science-led organization established as a foundation under civil law. For over ten years, it has promoted international cutting-edge science and research across disciplines and institutions in and for Berlin. It has funded almost 200 researchers, including three Nobel laureates, over 70 projects, and seven Einstein Centers.