Excellence Strategy 

Our cluster projects entering the competition

As part of the current round of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments, Goethe University Frankfurt is applying for a continuation of its existing CPI cluster and has also submitted four new cluster initiatives: ConTrust, EMTHERA, ELEMENTS and SCALE. The projects bring Goethe University's research strengths in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and life sciences together with the complementary expertise of its regional and national partner institutions.

What is the Excellence Strategy?

In 2019, the German federal and state governments launched the Excellence Strategy to promote top scientific achievements and research collaborations, as well as to strengthen the profile of German universities. While funding line I focuses on clusters of excellence, i.e. initiatives in which universities and research institutions conduct joint research, funding line II focuses on select universities of excellence, and is aimed at expanding their top position in research.

Our Cluster of Excellence

Cardio-Pulmonary Institute (CPI)

When mutated cells cause damage to the heart

The Cardio-Pulmonary Institute (CPI) Cluster of Excellence investigates molecular processes in the interaction of the heart and the lung, and what happens in cells and tissues in cases of heart and lung disease. With a view towards developing innovative treatment methods for patients, scientists specialized in basic research work together with colleagues from the clinical field.

CPI continues the successful work of the Cardio-Pulmonary System Cluster of Excellence (ECCPS), which received funding from 2006 to 2018 as part of the Excellence Initiative, i.e. the Excellence Strategy's predecessor program. The unique interdisciplinary center brings together scientists from Justus Liebig University Giessen, Goethe University Frankfurt and the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research (Bad Nauheim).

CPI's spokespersons are Prof. Dr. Werner Seeger (JLU Giessen) and Prof. Dr. Stefanie Dimmeler (Goethe University Frankfurt).

Our new projects 


Why there is potential for trust in conflict

The cluster project ConTrust: Trust in Conflict – Political Coexistence under Conditions of Uncertainty explores the interplay of trust and mistrust in crisis and conflict situations. 

The project examines how trust can be formed in conflict in four specific areas: democratic and civil society-based forms of trust formation in conflict, economic conflicts, as well as trust in science and media. Within ConTrust, experts from law and economics, sociology, social psychology and political science, philosophy, film and literary studies, and computer science work closely together, transcending disciplinary boundaries, developing new methods and applying these to empirical and normative questions. 

ConTrust's spokespersons are Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Hediger (Goethe University Frankfurt) and Prof. Dr. Nicole Deitelhoff (PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt/Goethe University Frankfurt).


Where the gold in our universe comes from

To understand why heavy elements exist in the universe, you have to explore neutron stars, kilonovae and gravitational waves. To that end, the cluster project ELEMENTS brings together particle- and astrophysicists within the framework of the Alliance of Rhine-Main Universities. 

In our universe, incredibly massive and compact objects collide at unimaginable distances, thereby releasing the tiniest particles. The team making up ELEMENTS (Exploring the Universe from Microscopic to Macroscopic Scales) is working on the question of how heavy elements such as copper, gold and lead are created in the process. In so doing, ELEMENTS physicists combine microscopic scales of elementary particles with macroscopic scales of astrophysical objects such as neutron stars. The application as a cluster of excellence was jointly handed in by Goethe University Frankfurt and the Technical University of Darmstadt. 

ELEMENTS' spokespersons are Prof. Dr. Luciano Rezzolla (Goethe University Frankfurt), Prof. Dr. Norbert Pietralla (TU Darmstadt), and Prof. Dr. Tetyana Galatyuk (GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung /TU Darmstadt).


When the immune system loses its balance

Imbalances in the immune system can result in autoimmune diseases with chronic inflammation. The research network EMTHERA (Emerging therapeutic strategies against infections, inflammation, and immune-mediated diseases) investigates the processes that underlie such systemic diseases at the interface of infection, inflammation, and immunity. 

EMTHERA sets out to understand which mechanisms monitor the balance of cells and organs, how chronic inflammation develops, and how it can be brought under control. The project, as part of which numerous cooperation partners plan to develop new therapeutic strategies, is a joint application with Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz within the framework of the Alliance of Rhine-Main Universities.

EMTHERA's spokespersons are Prof. Dr. Ivan Ðikić (Goethe University Frankfurt) and Prof. Dr. Özlem Türeci (JGU Mainz).


How cells really work

Thanks to modern imaging techniques, cells can now be studied down to the micro level of atoms. The cluster initiative SCALE (SubCellular Architecture of LifE) intends to use this methodology to uncover the principles of how cells organize themselves. 

SCALE scientists are using their expertise in the analysis of RNA and membrane protein complexes to create a simulation of the cell in a high spatial and temporal resolution. In so doing, they are hoping to gain a better understanding of how cells really operate and how their various "machines" work together. Although the functions of many individual molecules have already been the subject of scientific research, it often remains unclear how the architecture inside a cell is formed, how it functions and how the individual elements interact. 

SCALE's spokespersons are Prof. Dr. Martin Beck (Max Planck Institute for Biophysics/Goethe University Frankfurt) as well as Prof. Dr. Inga Hänelt and Prof. Dr. Michaela Müller-McNicoll (both Goethe University Frankfurt).

Research at Goethe University Frankfurt 

Since its foundation, Goethe University Frankfurt has provided an open space for progressive approaches, experiments and thoughts. Find out more about our research and our research profile.


Cluster project team

Dr. Christian Bamann
Team Lead National Research Funding


Dr. Inga Schürmann


David Jungmann


ExStra@Goethe project team

Annabel Bokern
Project lead