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To strengthen its cutting-edge research, Leipzig University submitted three draft proposals yesterday (Wednesday, 31 May 2023) in the Clusters of Excellence funding line in the second competition phase of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments. The research projects described in the draft proposals come from innovative collaborations in the fields of medicine, environmental sciences, life sciences, social sciences and natural sciences. One of the three draft proposals has been submitted jointly with the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU).

“We believe that outstanding ideas can change the world, which is why Leipzig University is striving for excellence. Today, we are proud to announce the submission of three innovative draft proposals under the Excellence Strategy,” says Rector Professor Eva Inés Obergfell.

The planned clusters illustrate the research priorities of the Alma mater Lipsiensis. “Leipzig University will continue to cross disciplinary boundaries at the highest level of research. In all three planned clusters, our excellent researchers will work together to address the existential questions of our society and our time – from climate change to the multiple crises of a new era and modern diseases,” Rector Obergfell continues. “My rectorate team and I are confident that all three draft proposals will convince the reviewers. We sincerely thank all those involved.”

The draft proposals – the content of which is briefly outlined below – will now be reviewed by the Joint Commission of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Council of Science and Humanities (WR). On 1 February 2024, the decision will be made as to who can prepare and submit a full proposal.

About the planned clusters

In the draft proposal New Global Dynamics, social and environmental science research focuses on trends that are being observed around the world. The transnational project with MLU and seven Leibniz, Max Planck and Helmholtz Institutes aims to investigate the interplay of these global dynamics in the course of a frequently diagnosed multi-crisis and to derive an explanation of current world orders. Multiple crises – from the COVID-19 pandemic to war and new imperialist geopolitics to climate and biodiversity collapse – feed the idea that the world has entered a new historical epoch that also demands new forms of crisis management.
The cluster aims to bring together research on each of these crisis dimensions and develop a new paradigm from them in an interdisciplinary School for New Global Dynamics, in order to understand how the seemingly general multi-crisis is perceived, experienced and responded to quite differently in different regions of the world. These different responses are manifested in competing, but also complementary and coalescing globalisation projects that will shape a multipolar world order. Describing and analysing these globalisation projects is an important aim of the cluster, which will also reassess whether modernity can be described as a success story.
(Spokesperson: Professor Matthias Middell, Research Centre Global Dynamics, Leipzig University)

The Leipzig Center of Metabolism (LeiCeM), a clinical research centre dedicated to understanding and improving the burden of disease caused by metabolic disorders, is a collaborative effort between the University of Leipzig Medical Center and Leipzig Heart Center, as well as five Max Planck, Helmholtz and Fraunhofer Institutes.
Our metabolism is rooted in ancient, fundamentally human, but also recently acquired mechanisms that are increasingly making us ill in our modern society: they promote a pathological increase in blood lipids, in blood sugar (known as diabetes mellitus), and the development of fatty liver, which in turn increases the risk of things like serious cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke) and some cancers. Some people are more susceptible than others. The same is true of therapies – some people will respond to them, while others will not. Lifelong risks can develop in early childhood, in the womb or through hereditary factors.
The aim of LeiCeM is to develop therapeutic approaches with a high response rate based on individual metabolic disorders rather than undifferentiated targeting of risk factors. 
(Spokesperson: Professor Michael Stumvoll, Faculty of Medicine and University of Leipzig Medical Center)

The climate and biodiversity crises are inextricably linked, and solutions must take this into account. The Breathing Nature project will bring together researchers from the life sciences, economics and earth sciences to explore the links between climate change and biodiversity, putting their complex interactions at the heart of the analysis of human behaviour. New methods such as computer simulations, artificial intelligence and innovative experimental platforms will be used to study the patterns and dynamics of biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems (forests, open land, soils) and how these interact with the atmosphere.
At the same time, there will be an analysis of the role of society in the actions and responsibilities of individuals and collectives. Empirical approaches from economics and psychology will be combined with observations and modelling from biodiversity and climate science. Five Leibniz, Max Planck and Helmholtz Institutes and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena are involved.
(Spokesperson: Professor Johannes Quaas, Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences)