Press releases

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Goethe University PR & Communication Department 

Theodor-W.-Adorno Platz 1
60323 Frankfurt


Dec 7 2023

International conference "CRITICAL BARBRA" pays tribute to multitalented artist

Barbra Streisand: The first global Jewish superstar

FRANKFURT. One of her biographers once described her as the "world's greatest living performer ": Barbra Streisand, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1942, is the focus of the international conference "CRITICAL BARBRA", held

from December 14 to 16, 2023
at Goethe University Frankfurt, Deutsches Filminstitut Filmmuseum
and the Jewish Museum Frankfurt

The event is organized by film scholars Prof. Vinzenz Hediger (Goethe University Frankfurt) and Prof. Marc Siegel (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz). 

Barbra Streisand is one of the most visible and influential figures in cinema and the music industry. She became famous both as a singer, whose mezzo-soprano voice easily spans three octaves, and through numerous film roles, as a director, dancer, comedian and storyteller. From the 1980s onwards, she was for many years considered the most powerful woman in Hollywood. But Streisand was unique in another important way: Breaking with a long tradition of assimilation in the arts, she was the first recognizably and unapologetically Jewish global superstar. Sporting a Jewish name, Streisand abstained from and often made jokes about the kind of plastic surgery many of her predecessors in show business had undergone. 

The CRITICAL BARBRA conference focuses on the multifaceted performer and cultural icon in a multidisciplinary perspective. Streisand's persona and work offer numerous opportunities to analyze modern and contemporary musical and visual culture in its full breadth and depth. "We believe that a conference on Streisand at this point in time can make a useful contribution to the debate about Jewish visibility and the rise of new forms of antisemitism, with a particular focus on current debates about the arts and the art world," says organizer Vinzenz Hediger. 

CRITICAL BARBRA pays homage to different aspects of Streisand's talent by means of film screenings, academic lectures, discussions and performances. All events will be held in English. 

The detailed program is available at: 

The event poster can be downloaded at: 

Further information:
Prof. Vinzenz Hediger
Institute for Film and Theater Studies
Goethe University Frankfurt

Editor: Dr. Anke Sauter, Science Editor, PR & Communication Office, Tel: +49 (0)69 798-13066, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531,


Dec 4 2023

Study by Goethe University Frankfurt identifies mechanism that could be a suitable starting point for developing novel drugs

Leukemia cells activate cellular recycling program 

To speed up their growth, leukemia cells typically activate the recycling of cellular structures – enabling them to dispose of defective components and better supply themselves with building materials. Researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt have now shown that leukemia cells with a very common mutation activate specific genes that are important for this recycling process. Their findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, open up new therapeutic options for the future. 

FRANKFURT. In a recent study, scientists led by Professor Stefan Müller from Goethe University's Institute of Biochemistry II investigated a specific form of blood cancer known as acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. The disease mainly occurs in adulthood and often ends up being fatal for older patients. In about a third of AML patients, the cancer cells' genetic material has a characteristic mutation that affects the so-called NPM1 gene, which contains the building instructions for a protein of the same name. 

While it was already known that the mutated NPM1 variant (abbreviated as NPM1c) is an important factor in the development of leukemia, "together with an interdisciplinary team consisting of various Goethe University research groups, we have now discovered a new way in which the NPM1c gene variant does this," Müller explains. According to this, the altered protein intervenes in autophagy, an important cell process that consists of a metabolic pathway through which the cell recycles its own structures. On the one hand, this "self-digestion" serves to remove defective molecules. "On the other, it also enables the cell to meet its need for important building blocks, including in the event of a nutrient deficiency or increased cell proliferation, which is characteristic of cancer cells," explains PhD student Hannah Mende, the study's first author. 

During autophagy, the cell initially produces a kind of waste bag, the autophagosome, into which it packs those cellular components that are to be broken down and recycled if necessary. This waste bag is then transported to the cell's recycling center, the so-called lysosome, where its contents are broken down with the help of acid and enzymes. From here, the building blocks are then released into the cell, where they can be reused. "We have now been able to show that NPM1c promotes the production of both autophagosomes as well as lysosomes," says Müller. 

The researchers have also provided an answer to the question of how NPM1c imparts these effects: It binds to a central regulator of the autophagosome-lysosome system called GABARAP, and thereby activates it. "Using computer simulations, we have shown that this binding of NPM1c and GABARAP has an atypical structure," explains study co-author Dr. Ramachandra M. Bhaskara, head of the Institute of Biochemistry II's computational cell biology working group. Experimental structural biology data confirm the simulation's results, based on which it may now be possible to develop active substances that specifically influence the binding of NPM1c to GABARAP and thus combat the growth of leukemia cells. 

Publication: Hannah Mende, Anshu Khatri, Carolin Lange, Sergio Alejandro Poveda-Cuevas, Georg Tascher, Adriana Covarrubias-Pinto, Frank Löhr, Sebastian E. Koschade, Ivan Dikic, Christian Münch, Anja Bremm, Lorenzo Brunetti, Christian H. Brandts, Hannah Uckelmann, Volker Dötsch, Vladimir V. Rogov, Ramachandra M. Bhaskara, Stefan Müller: An atypical GABARAP binding module drives the pro-autophagic potential of the AML-associated NPM1c variant. Cell Reports (2023), 

Images for download: 

Caption: The green dots in this fluorescence image show binding of the leukemia-associated NPM1c protein to the recycling regulator GABARAP. Blue: cell nucleus, purple: cytoskeleton. Photo: Hannah Mende, AG Stefan Müller, Goethe University Frankfurt 

Further information
Professor Stefan Müller
Institute of Biochemistry II
Goethe University Frankfurt and Frankfurt University Hospital
Tel.: +49 (0)69 6301-83647
Twitter/X: @goetheuni @IBC2_GU

Editor: Dr. Markus Bernards, Science Editor, PR & Communication Office, Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 1, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Tel: +49 (0) 69 798-12498, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531,


Dec 4 2023

Academy for Islam in Research and Society (AIWG) publishes expertise on Islamic burials

More and more Muslims choose to be buried in Germany

More than 5.5 million Muslims live in Germany, a growing number of whom want to be buried here after their death. This rising demand for Islamic burials presents German municipalities and Muslim communities with a variety of challenges. 

FRANKFURT. Without a coffin, facing Mecca – these are the religious guidelines according to which Muslims are traditionally buried. But to what extent do contemporary German cemeteries meet these guidelines? What solutions have cemetery operators found to enable burials according to Islamic rites? 

AIWG's recently published report “Islamische Grabfelder und Bestattungen auf deutschen Friedhöfen" [“Islamic burial grounds and burials in German cemeteries"] provides the first accurate reflection – based on a broad database – of the current status of Islamic burials in municipal cemeteries in Germany. As part of his research fellowship for the AIWG expertise, the main author, Prof. Thomas Lemmen of the Catholic University of Applied Sciences of North Rhine-Westphalia, carried out a quantitative survey. Some 86 percent of the more than 300 cemetery administrations nationwide that have Islamic burial plots took part in the poll, whose data shows that from a legal point of view, there are few obstacles to burial in conformity with Islam. Put differently: German burial law largely takes into account the religious beliefs of Muslims. 

The high level of interest shown by cemetery administrations in Islamic burials reflects the changing reality of Germany as a migration society. An important study result is the finding that, in the municipal context, the successful implementation of burial regulations has been the result of the discourse between cemetery administrations and Muslim interest groups. 

"Cemetery administrations in Germany are very well positioned to meet the challenges of setting up Islamic burial plots. The fact that the overwhelming majority of them not only took part in the extensive survey, but also that many cemetery administrations are now in close contact with local Muslim communities, is a sign of successful integration and functioning interfaith cooperation," says Thomas Lemmen. 

The publication not only includes empirical data and information on historical developments, but also illustrative material as well as articles on rituals and practical issues relating to the religious principles and procedures of Islamic burials, written by Dr. Özgür Uludağ. 

"Part of life is the end of it, with the place of burial serving as the final and eternal resting place. Funeral directors, local authorities and cemetery administrators also have to address growing religious and ideological heterogeneity. This expert report provides important information not only for them, but also for academics working on the subject. Beyond that, it is aimed at Muslims and their institutions, who are not only confronted with specific religious questions in the event of death in Germany, but also with official and practical challenges," says AIWG managing director Dr. Raida Chbib. 

The full publication (in German) can be downloaded from the AIWG website at 

About the authors 

Prof. Dr. Thomas Lemmen is an honorary professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences North Rhine-Westphalia's Cologne department, and director of the part-time Master's course "Interreligious Dialog Competence". His research focuses on the fundamentals and practical approaches of interreligious dialog as well as current topics related to Muslim life in Germany. From October 2021 to June 2022, he worked as a research fellow at the AIWG on the project "Islamic burials in Germany: A review of the adaptation of state and municipal burial regulations to the religious needs and expectations of Muslims in Germany". You can read more about the AIWG research fellowship here (in German). 

Dr. Özgür Uludağ studied Islamic Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Turkish Studies and Sociology of Migration at the University of Hamburg. He completed his doctorate at Kiel University with a dissertation on "Islamic burials and the decision-making process when choosing a grave location". In addition to his studies, he worked for many years as a funeral director at Muslim funerals. As part of his AIWG practice fellowship, he created a multimedia website on Islamic funerals in Germany, which is available at (in German): 

Further information
Stefanie Golla-Dehmamy
Coordinator Science Communication and PR
Academy for Islam in Research and Society
Goethe University Frankfurt
Phone: +49 (0)69 798-22459

About the AIWG
The Academy for Islam in Research and Society (AIWG) at the Goethe University in Frankfurt conducts interdisciplinary research and transfer activities with a focus on Islamic Theological Studies and Muslim life in Germany. It connects all faculties for Islamic Theological Studies or Islamic religious pedagogy located in a University in Germany. The academy addresses issues of social participation by including perspectives related to religion. The AIWG is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Editor: Dr. Anke Sauter, Science Editor, PR & Communication Office, Tel: +49 (0)69 798-13066, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531,


Dec 4 2023

Device to be used to pioneer quantum computing, under the direction of computer scientist Prof. Thomas Lippert   

Goethe University receives its first quantum computer  

With the upcoming installation of its first quantum computer, Goethe University will join the list of leading German universities in the field of applied quantum computing: Based on the technology of nitrogen vacancies in a synthetic diamond, Frankfurt's first quantum computer, named "Baby Diamond", will start as a pilot system with five qubits. Ulm-based start-up XeedQ is scheduled to deliver the device in the first quarter of 2024, with initial pilot users expected to come from Goethe University Frankfurt and the National High Performance Computing NHR Alliance. 

The topic of quantum computing is a future technology that is currently on everyone's lips, promising to tackle tasks in the fields of computer simulation and AI that were previously too large or even unsolvable using digital methods. "With our new pilot quantum computer, we are taking an important step into this revolutionary field, which will soon be followed by others," says Goethe University President Prof. Enrico Schleiff. "Baby Diamond will give us a first glimpse into a future in which great computational challenges, the likes of which we cannot even imagine today, will become possible." 

Ulrich Schielein, Goethe University Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO), adds: "It is likely that, in a few years' time, we will be able to address completely new types of problems not only from the worlds of finance, logistics in rail, air and road transport, medicine and biology, weather and climate research, but also in the fields of basic sciences, like physics and chemistry, or the training of basic models of artificial intelligence. We are looking forward to working together with researchers, companies and institutions here in the Rhine-Main region." 

The quantum computer uses a small synthetic diamond, commonly found in industrial applications, in which nitrogen atoms are embedded, each of which induces a defect that can in turn be used as a central qubit. Spins of atoms can be controlled as further qubits around this defect, making practical quantum computing possible. 

"Our entry-level system is based on the idea of a compact quantum computer that can be used at room temperature, doesn't require any special cryogenic cooling, can be set up in a small laboratory and is particularly energy-efficient," says Prof. Thomas Lippert, head of the modular supercomputing and quantum computing working group, established at Goethe University's Faculty of Computer Science and Mathematics in summer 2020. "As a university, by installing the quantum computer, we are consciously taking a stand against the current monopolization of large companies that hide their systems behind paywalls. It being a compact system, we can already train students today in a hands-on manner directly on the device – exactly what is needed to become fit for the future." 

The quantum computer is part of the so-called “Frankfurt Roadmap", which sets out to procure up to 16 high-quality qubits by 2025 and gradually increase this number in the future. The pilot system operated in collaboration with the NHR Alliance will help establish an infrastructure at Goethe University that will closely link quantum computing with high-performance computing. In this context, Goethe University was able to secure Forschungszentrum Jülich with its JUNIQ quantum computing infrastructure as a scientific partner –a global pioneer in modular hybrid quantum HPC computing. 

The system is being developed by XeedQ, which is based both in Leipzig and at the German Aerospace Center's innovation hub in Ulm. XeedQ is funded by the latter's Quantum Computing Initiative, with a view towards developing a scalable quantum computing technology. 

Quantum computing is often referred to as the second quantum revolution. Goethe University's quantum computer will be located on the historic Bockenheim Campus, where Stern and Gerlach's famous experiment, carried out more than 100 years ago, laid the foundation for today's quantum computing and served as an important part of the first quantum revolution. With its Baby Diamond, Goethe University is paving the way to bring new quantum revolutions back to Frankfurt. 

Further information
Prof. Thomas Lippert
Professor for Modular Supercomputing and Quantum Computing
Institute of Computer Science
Goethe University Frankfurt

Editor: Dr. Dirk Frank, Press Officer / Deputy Head of PR and Communication, Goethe University Frankfurt, Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 1, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Phone +49 (0)69 798–13753,


Dec 1 2023

Goethe University Frankfurt honors outstanding scientists from the fields of law, microbiology and inclusion research 

Three award-winning Goethe University personalities

Every two years, the Alfons und Gertrud Kassel-Stiftung awards the “Scientist of the Year" Award as well as the “Public Service Fellowship Prize" to researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt. In addition, each year the President of Goethe University also awards the “New Horizon Prize". For the first time, all three prizes were presented together at a public award ceremony held yesterday. And the winners are: microbiologist Inga Hänelt, law professor Indra Spiecker and educational scientist Lukas Gerhards. 

The three academics honored at Goethe University yesterday evening “conduct extraordinary scientific work, and, at the same time", in the words of University President Enrico Schleiff, "they let others share in the results of and profit from this science – in a manner that far exceeds the economic component of this term." In so doing, they stand for an essential feature of Goethe University, namely "that we do not keep the treasures of knowledge we have gathered to ourselves, but consciously share them: in the scientific world, and – as part of intelligently structured dialogs and using modern methods – with society." 

The Alfons und Gertrud Kassel-Stiftung's “Scientist of the Year" Award 2022 goes to microbiologist Prof. Inga Hänelt for her outstanding research and strong commitment to promoting young talent. The Heisenberg Professor, who works at Goethe University's Institute of Biochemistry, was honored for her contribution to understanding processes that enable bacteria to survive under various stress conditions; specifically, for her work on microbial potassium homeostasis, i.e. the processes by which bacteria adapt to salty environments, drought or extreme pH values by absorbing or releasing potassium. Hänelt's multi-award-winning work is highly regarded both nationally and internationally and has been published in the most prestigious scientific journals. As a result of her excellent accomplishments, the microbiologist is also a member of many research networks operated by the German Research Foundation. At Goethe University, she is one of the scientists in charge of the SCALE (SubCellular Architecture of LifE) cluster initiative. 

Inga Hänelt also received the “Scientist of the Year" Award, which is endowed with €25,000 and awarded every two years, for her excellent mentoring and support of young scientists. In their laudatory speech, the members of Hänelt's working group praised their mentor, whose commitment to the advancement of young scientists extends far beyond her own working group. 

This year's "Public Service Fellowship Prize", also awarded by the Alfons und Gertrud Kassel-Stiftung, went to Prof. Indra Spiecker genannt Döhmann. Spiecker has been teaching public law, information law, environmental law and administrative sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt since 2013. She heads the Data Protection Research Center and is scientific director of the Institute for European Health Policy and Social Law (ineges). She is the first lawyer ever to be a member of the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). Among others, she also is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina's "Digitalization and Society" steering group. Indra Spiecker is a leading and internationally renowned legal expert, whose research focuses, among others, on the digital world's regulatory conditions and possibilities, and related power shifts. As part of this, she also analyzes decisions in situations of uncertainty or the relationship between trust and conflict, which stands at the center of the ConTrust cluster initiative. Spiecker is frequently consulted as an expert by many institutions, particularly on the legal aspects of digitalization, including for the German government's Third Gender Equality Report, by data protection authorities or the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. 

The "Public Service Fellowship Prize", endowed with €10,000, is awarded every two years by the Alfons und Gertrud Kassel-Stiftung to Goethe University researchers who play an active role in important scientific or science policy committees. The prize money is intended to enable projects that could not be continued due to the special commitment they require. Prof. Spiecker is the fourth person to be awarded the prize – following in the footsteps of educational scientist Sabine Andresen, financial scientist and former member of the German council of economic experts Prof. Volker Wieland, and medical scientist and long-standing chairman of the German government's Expert Council on Health Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Gerlach. The laudatory speech for Indra Spiecker genannt Döhmann was held by Hessian Minister of Justice Prof. Roman Poseck. 

The winner of the 2023 President's New Horizon Prize is inclusion researcher Lukas Gerhards. The prize, endowed with €5,000, supports young researchers at Goethe University who are breaking new ground in their research and thinking. Following his studies in special needs education, PhD student Lukas Gerhards has devoted himself to inclusion research. As part of his neurophilosophically-oriented doctorate, he is investigating, for example, what neurodiversity means, i.e. how different perceptions of the environment come about. As a research assistant in the team of inclusion researcher Prof. Dr. Vera Moser, Lukas Gerhards plays a leading role in the innovative research network "schAUT" (School & Autism), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Working together with autistic people, the project aims to identify barriers for autistic pupils in schools for the first time, and explore ways of overcoming them. What factors interfere with autistic pupils' learning? Initial findings show that autistic and non-autistic schoolchildren are disturbed by the same factors – including bright light and high noise levels – which means that everyone benefits from a reduction in these barriers. At the same time, the project also promotes knowledge transfer to society: it includes a barrier questionnaire, a handout on how to use the tool, as well as a training concept for schools and information material for the interested public. 

The New Horizon Prize was awarded for the first time in 2022 to business teacher Dr. Christin Siegfried. 

The Alfons und Gertrud Kassel-Stiftung was established in 2007 with the aim of promoting science, research and teaching at Goethe University. It is based on an endowment bequeathed by its founder, Gertrud Kassel. The foundation supports numerous university projects.

Editor: Pia Barth, Science Editor, PR & Communication Office, Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 1, 60323 Frankfurt, Tel. +49 (0)69 798-12481, Fax +49 (0)69 798-763-12531,