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Clusters of Excellence

In Excellence Clusters, leading scholars and scientists work together across disciplinary boundaries on innovative solutions for current overriding issues – in close cooperation with non-university research institutions and partners from industry and business, politics, society, and culture.

Since 2007, Freie Universität has been iinvolved in three Excellence Clusters supported through the German Excellence Initiative. Two of them continued to receive support in the second funding period beginning in 2012.

Overview of Excellence Clusters (Excellence Initiative) based at Freie Universität:

Topoi - The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations

Excavation at Tell Fecheriye in Syria: The Topoi Cluster of Excellence deals with cultures of the ancient world.

Excavation at Tell Fecheriye in Syria: The Topoi Cluster of Excellence deals with cultures of the ancient world.
Image Credit: Dominik Bonatz

Within the Topoi Cluster of Excellence, experts from various disciplines explore cultures of the ancient world. The focus is on the area around the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, but it also includes the Eurasion steppe and Central Europe. The period under investigation extends from the 7th millennium BC, through Late Antiquity, to the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period.

This broad view is conducive to the exploration of developments such as migration, the spread of innovations, or the transfer of knowledge over long periods and distances. Scholars and scientists from various disciplines including literary scholars, archaeologists, geography, and other natural scientists work together to address the two main guiding principles of space and knowledge. Over the past ten years they have established a new intensive form of cooperation in subjects with a relatively small base in Central Europe.

Host universities: Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 

Other participating institutions: Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, a university of applied sciences, he Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz foundation.

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NeuroCure

Looking into a fluorescence microscope: In the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, scientists explore the mechanisms behind neurological diseases.

Looking into a fluorescence microscope: In the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, scientists explore the mechanisms behind neurological diseases.
Image Credit: NeuroCure / Juergen Loesel

In the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, scientists investigate the underlying mechanisms of neurological diseases in order to find innovative treatment pathways. The main focus of their research is on conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, but they also consider Alzheimer's, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.

In each of the individual research areas, basic researchers work closely together with clinicians, so that research results can be used more quickly for the development of new therapies.

Host universities: Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin as operators of Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Other particiapting institutions: German Rheumatism Research Centre Berlin (DRFZ), Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie in Berlin, and Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin.

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Languages of Emotion

Love - Hate - Love: Fächerübergreifende Emotionsforschung war das Ziel von Languages of Emotion.

Love - Hate - Love: Fächerübergreifende Emotionsforschung war das Ziel von Languages of Emotion.
Image Credit: Thomas Stodulka

The Languages of Emotion Cluster, which was funded between 2007 and 2012 in the German Excellence Initiative, focused on research into the connections between emotions and representational practices. The involved researchers investigated the interplay between emotions, media and signs in social life, in music, literature and film, or in the experience of the individual person. Researchers from disciplines as diverse as literary studies and neuroscience, psychology and ethnology worked together closely.

The Dahlem Institute of Neuroimaging of Emotion (D.I.N.E.) was set up for the excellence cluster's work. After the funding ended, D.I.N.E. was incorporated into the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Berlin.

Host university: Freie Universität Berlin

The other participating institutions included Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

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