03.08.2023 // (08/23)
Population diversity, early disease interception, new carbyne applications, and the temporality of heritage: Einstein Foundation Berlin approves new research funding worth over 8 million Euro
In July, the Executive Board of the Einstein Foundation Berlin approved more new structural funding for Berlin’s research landscape, including a new Einstein Center for Population Diversity and a preparation module for an Einstein Center for Early Disease Interception. It has also approved two new Einstein Circles and support for an outstanding doctoral program. In terms of funding for individuals, the board gave the go-ahead for a new International Postdoctoral Fellow, two applications from the Academic Freedom program, and another Fellow in the Einstein BUA/Oxford Visiting Fellowship program, which is run in collaboration with the Berlin University Alliance and Oxford in Berlin. The total approved funding comes to around €8.2 million.
Einstein Center for Population Diversity
European societies are becoming increasingly heterogeneous and diverse as a result of demographic change, rising migration, and new and changing relationships as well as work and care arrangements. This offers opportunities for societies to progress, but also poses considerable risk of growing inequalities in terms of life expectancy, health, education, and economic status. The approved Einstein Center for Population Diversity, run by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Charité), Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin), and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin), will investigate these opportunities and challenges until the end of 2029. It will bring together social and health science expertise in an interdisciplinary consortium with other institutions, including the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Berlin Social Science Center, the Population Europe network, and the University of Oxford. The focus will be on the family, which is seen as a site of reproduction and intergenerational negotiation that is being transformed by current changes. It is also considered a link between individuals and health, social, labor market, and educational policies. Conversely, the concept of family is itself also diversifying and driving diversity.
Einstein Center preparation module
Einstein Center for Early Disease Interception
During the two-year preparation module phase, the Einstein Foundation will be funding the innovative research field of cell-based interceptive medicine. New, promising research approaches aim to diagnose and fight diseases at a very early stage, when there are only a few diseased cells present in the patient and they are not yet displaying symptoms or complications. The focus of the planned cross-institutional center will be on the accelerated development, integration, and application of new key technologies in the areas of single-cell multiomics and spatial biology, advanced pre-clinical patient models, and novel solutions that make use of artificial intelligence. The consortium brings together researchers and clinicians from ten leading Berlin institutions, including Charité and the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH), the Max Delbrück Center, Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), FU Berlin, HU Berlin, the Museum für Naturkunde, and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics.
Improving (Mental) Health Care in Homelessness
The inter- and transdisciplinary Einstein Circle on Improving (Mental) Health Care in Homelessness, run by Charité, HU Berlin, TU Berlin, FU Berlin, and the Robert Koch Institute, focuses on the mental and physical health of homeless people. Mental illness can be a major contributing factor to homelessness and, conversely, can be aggravated by the social difficulties that homeless people face. Measures to improve their health, social integration, and quality of life are still scarce. The aim of the Einstein Circle is to develop strategies and interventions to understand and improve the complex underlying systems in the Berlin metropolitan area. As well as social and data sciences, urban planning, and various medical disciplines, such as psychiatry as well as emergency and general medicine, the circle explicitly plans to include the perspectives of people affected by homelessness, and of practitioners in the field and international researchers.
Liminality and Transfer
The concept and practices of inheritance and heritage are full of contradictions. Run by HU Berlin, FU Berlin, the University of Leipzig, Aarhus University, the Leibniz Centre for Literary and Cultural Research in Berlin, and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, this Einstein Circle aims to generate a better understanding of current heritage/inheritance problems. It includes debates on the transfer of private assets, social inequality, and cultural transfer in a globalized, postcolonial world (“world heritage”). From the perspective of law and philosophy, sociology and ethnology, history, and cultural and literary studies, the circle will reflect on liminality as a key word, particularly the temporal dimensions of heritage, and examine the permanence of property. There are plans for workshops, series of public talks, and events.
Einstein Foundation Doctoral Program
Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS)
The Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies has once again been awarded funding for its excellent doctoral programs, following its earlier success in 2017. The graduate school, which has been run by FU Berlin and HU Berlin since 2011, collaborates with various partners to offer a total of five doctoral programs in ancient studies and associated disciplines, and is part of the Berliner Antike-Kolleg. BerGSAS will use the funding to strengthen the digital humanities within the doctoral training programs in collaboration with two non-university partners: the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German Archaeological Institute. The focus will be on digital research methods and tools, research data management, and digital publishing. The funding also covers three doctoral scholarships.
Einstein BUA/Oxford Visiting Fellow
The Board of Directors of the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) agreed in July to fund Andrew Sharott as an Einstein BUA/Oxford Visiting Fellow. Sharott is an Associate Professor at the University of Oxford’s MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit and his research includes work on neuronal and hormonal brain disorders, deep brain stimulation, and treatment options for Parkinson’s. The BUA/Oxford Visiting Fellows program aims to involve researchers from the University of Oxford in Berlin’s science and research environment over the longer term, further strengthening research collaboration between Oxford and Berlin. Sharott’s project will combine resources and expertise so that, in future, brain frequency measurement can be used to guide interference-free deep brain stimulation treatment. In Berlin, he will be conducting research within the Einstein Center for Neurosciences and the NeuroCure cluster of excellence.
Einstein Guest Researcher
The Executive Board has approved funding for Professor Tamara Fastovska through the Academic Freedom program. Fastovska is a researcher at HU Berlin’s Department of Mathematics. She plans to describe the properties and interactions of elastic bodies of various materials from a mathematical and theoretical point of view. The name of the second approved funding recipient is not being announced for their own protection and at their request.
Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellow
Pietro Marabotti completed his doctoral thesis at Politecnico di Milano in energy and nuclear science and, as part of an International Postdoctoral Fellowship, will work with Sebastian Heeg at HU Berlin’s Department of Physics in the field of material science, conducting research into carbynes. These one-dimensional linear chains of carbon atoms have properties that vary depending on how they are bent or twisted, and can be used, for instance, to conduct heat and light. The project will develop a novel near-field spectrometer to scan carbynes using infrared technology and identify optical and structural non-linearities (e.g. defects), as well as provide insights into their atomic structure. Marabotti and Heeg plan to investigate how the properties of carbynes can be leveraged for use in optoelectronic devices.
The Einstein Foundation Berlin is an independent, not-for-profit, science-led organization established as a foundation under civil law in 2009. It promotes international cutting-edge science and research across disciplines and institutions in and for Berlin. To date, it has funded around 200 researchers – including three Nobel laureates – more than 70 projects, and seven Einstein Centers.
For research. For Berlin.