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Strengthening international research cooperation

Strengthening international research cooperation

© Unistra / Catherine Schroeder

Selection of joint research groups from Freiburg and Strasbourg

For the third time since 2013, FRIAS and the Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Studies (USIAS) have selected three joint research groups. After the previous two rounds, which resulted in five highly successful project groups, the two institutes decided to continue their strong collaboration for the funding period from October 2017 until September 2019.

Even more than in the past, the selection process proved very difficult, as the jury had to choose between 25 high quality applications. This shows very clearly both the need and the potential for combining the research expertise of the two universities. The FRIAS-USIAS funding programme is part of the European Campus strategy. Integrating five internationally recognized universities in the upper Rhine region (besides U Freiburg and U Strasbourg, these are the universities of Basel, Mulhouse, and Karlsruhe), the European Campus strives to foster and support manifold cross-border cooperation in all fields of research.

Prof. Bernd Kortmann: “It is exciting to see how the academic communities on both sides of the river Rhine make use of this unique opportunity for high-powered research collaboration. All three joint projects promise to strengthen not only the research ties between, but also the international visibility of our universities.”

This year three projects from the disciplines of microbiology and bioinformatics, material science, and insurance and financial mathematics have been chosen.


MapRNA: Mapping RNA-RNA pairings in vivo in bacteria and their importance in fast acclimation processes

The first group, headed by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hess, Professor of Genetics and Experimental Bioinformatics at the University of Freiburg and Prof. Dr. Pascale Romby, Professor of Molecular and Cellular biology at the University of Strasbourg, will study the interactions between small non-coding ribonucleic acids (RNAs) and their targets in two different bacteria. The aim of their project is to improve algorithms that can predict RNA interactions.

Objects of study will be the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Synechocystis 6803. Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen that can be found on human skin and in the human respiratory tract as well as in food and water bodies. Synechocystis 6803 belongs to the group of freshwater cyanobacteria. It has the ability for oxygenic photosynthesis and is therefore a major model for prokaryotic photosynthetic biotechnology.

By improving the understanding of the physiology of the two target organisms, the research team aims to improve the development for anti-microbial drug design and, at the same time, to find strategies for enhancing the yield from photobiotechnology.


Implementation of Light-Powered Nanomachines into Polymer Bulk: From Fundamentals of Active Matter to Functional, Life-Inspired Polymer Materials

The second joint research group will investigate life-like materials by combining insights from molecular machines with research efforts in material science. Prof. Dr. Andreas Walther from the Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry at the University of Freiburg will join efforts with Prof. Dr. Nicolas Guiseppone from the Institute Charles Sadron of Strasbourg.

Their goal is the development of concepts for the integration of light-driven artificial nanomachines into polymer bulk materials to create active materials. Molecular machines generate mechanical movements on a wide array. For example, on a nanoscale they generate movements from chemical fuels or light, while on the macroscopic scale they participate in the actuation of our muscles. Walther and Guiseppone hope to demonstrate that the integrated nanomachines, when fuelled by an external source of energy, show adaptive mechanical properties like damping or contracting. With these properties the materials can later be used in, for example, the field of robotics.


Linking Finance and Insurance: Theory and Applications

The third FRIAS-USIAS research group will explore problems that lie at the intersection of banking/finance and insurance. From Strasbourg Prof. Dr. Jean Berard, the director of the Mathematical Institute, and Prof. Dr. Karl-Theodor Eisele, Professor of Insurance Mathematics, will collaborate with Prof. Dr. Thorsten Schmidt, Professor of Financial Mathematics at the University of Freiburg, and his predecessor and FRIAS alumnus Prof. Dr. Ernst Eberlein.

The proposed field is of particular interest under the current market situation, as the present low interest rate environment is both a big challenge for insurance companies and a key driving factor of stock markets. This shows the high topicality of this endeavor on one side and the enormous potential for future developments on the other side.

The group will focus on hybrid derivatives. This type of derivatives appears naturally in equity-linked insurance products, variable annuities and other financial products from the area of pensions and life-insurance. By investigating the valuation and risk-management methodologies of these derivatives, the group aims to study specific problems relevant to companies and to develop tailor-made solutions.


Information on the European Campus can be found at:


Information on the current (2015-17) and past (2013-15) joint groups can be found at: