Press releases – 2019

Whether it is new and groundbreaking research results, university topics or events – in our press releases you can find everything you need to know about the happenings at Goethe University. To subscribe, just send an email to

Goethe University PR & Communication Department 

Theodor-W.-Adorno Platz 1
60323 Frankfurt


May 29 2019

Researchers at Goethe University launch a website on the status of women working in economic research institutions in Europe

Leaky pipeline: women subject to disadvantages in career development

FRANKFURT. A website presenting the results from a web-based tracking tool about the proportion of women working in economic research institutions in European countries was launched on Tuesday, May 28. The new website provides extensive and reliable data, without which the status of women in economics would be impossible to assess. Using a web-scraping algorithm, data is collected from the public websites of all research institutions in Europe, with particular focus on Europe's 300 most highly ranked economics research institutions. 

The website is the result of years of work. It began with an idea from the Women in Economics Committee of the European Economic Association (EEA), whose objectives include collecting data on the status of women in economics professions in Europe. WinE Committee member Guido Friebel, and Sascha Wilhelm, both at Goethe University Frankfurt, expanded the data collection efforts with financial support from EEA. Friebel is also a fellow at CEPR in London and IZA in Bonn. 

The website presents information about the proportion of women in different positions in universities, business schools, and other institutions. It paints a similar picture for Europe as in the USA, but there are substantial differences between the countries and regions of Europe. Institutions that rank higher in terms of their research output tend to have less women in senior positions. The finding supports the "leaky pipeline" hypothesis, according to which women are subject to a double burden, resulting in disadvantages in their career development. Surprisingly, higher ranking institutions also employ few women at the junior level as well. The website is meant to help promote the debate about women's representation in society, and to develop avenues for further data collection and research. 


Further information: Professor Guido Friebel, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Goethe University Frankfurt. Phone: +49 69 798-34823; Sascha Wilhelm,


May 29 2019

International symposium at Goethe-University analyses contemporary literature and how it diagnoses the times

Japan between 1989 and 2019

FRANKFURT. A symposium entitled “Texts of the Heisei Era – Readings of Contemporary Japanese Literature" organised by Japanese Studies at Goethe University will take place on 6 and 7 June 2019. Academics from Japan, the USA, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany will speak at the event, including Victoria Young from the University of Cambridge, Yoshio Hitomi from the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University Tôkyô, American lyrics researcher Jeffrey Angles and renowned Japan expert Michiko Mae from Düsseldorf. A younger generation of researchers whose focus is on literature will also take part. 

The turn of eras in Japan gave rise to the conference. Contemporary Japanese literature, the “Literature of the Heisei Era" (Heisei bungaku), beginning in 1989 with the death of Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) and the end of the Shôwa era, developed over three decades until the abdication of the Heisei-Emperor Akihito on 30 April 2019, when it entered the realm of historicity. The current governmental maxim under Emperor Naruhito is “Reiwa". The time is therefore opportune to consider the authors, texts and trends of the past era and formulate initial insights and hypotheses. 

Building on research already carried out at Goethe University, central issues will be discussed in dialogue with different scientific traditions, beginning with the question of what is understood by “literature" during the years between 1989 and 2019, in which a transition of the national literature “system" (kokubungaku) took place on various levels. Together, the question of determining a canon for Heisei literature can be discussed, along with which literary issues should be taken up by Japanese studies experts, and which writers are likely to shape the literary future in the Reiwa era. 

Symposium “Texts of the Heisei Era – Readings of Contemporary Japanese Literature“
6 Juni 2019, 15:30 Uhr: Westend Campus, Eisenhower Room
7 Juni 2019, 9:30-20:00 Uhr: Bockenheim Campus, Room Jur 717

Organisation: Prof. Dr. Lisette Gebhardt/Christian Chappelow M.A./ Damian David Jungmann (Japan Studies, Goethe-Universität) 

The event is open to the public; registration at would be appreciated


May 27 2019

New Collaborative Research Centre analyses diverse role of RNA molecules / Another RNA Collaborative Research Centre extended

Investigating molecular regulation of the cardiovascular system 

FRANKFURT. Goethe University and TU Munich have jointly obtained a new Collaborative Research Centre (Sonderforschungsbereich – SFB), which will receive approximately € 11 million in funding from the German Research Foundation over the next four years. An additional SFB on RNA research has been extended for the second time. The funding of two powerful research collaborations underlines the excellent work being done in the field of RNA research at Goethe University. 

The new SFB comprising a consortium of 30 renowned researchers will investigate the influence non-coded RNAs have on the development, regulation and cellular processes of the cardiovascular system. The extended SFB deals with the structure and function of different RNA variants in biology and chemistry.

Ribonucleic acids, or RNAs, were long considered merely messenger molecules that coded genetic information for the creation of proteins. Meanwhile, it is known that over 90 percent of the RNA molecules carry out an astonishing variety of other tasks. Many of them regulate processes within the cell (siRNA, miRNA and sRNA) and others create fascinating three-dimensional structures and serve as enzymes of switches for cellular processes. Non-coded RNAs also play a significant role in cardiovascular diseases. 

The new trans-regional SFB “Non-coding RNA in the cardiovascular system," coordinated by Professor Stefanie Dimmeler from the Institute for Cardiovascular Regeneration at Goethe University Frankfurt and Professor Stefan Engelhardt from the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at TUM will research how non-coded RNA is created and transported in the cardiovascular system. It will furthermore look into how it influences cellular processes and which role it plays in the occurrence and cure of cardiovascular diseases. Over the long term, the collaborative also hopes to find new therapeutic target molecules. 

Additional partners are the Ludwig-Maximilian's-Universität (LMU), the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, and the Hannover Medical School. 

SFB begins third funding period 

The focus of the extended SFB “Molecular Principles of RNA-based regulation", headed by Professor Harald Schwalbe, Institute for Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is the function of RNA in chemistry and biology. The researchers from Goethe University and TU Darmstadt are particularly interested in how RNAs regulate gene expression. During the first two funding periods (eight years in total), the researchers established diverse spectroscopic methods to decode the structure of the complex macromolecules. These methods are now to be transferred from in vitro systems (prepared molecules in test tubes) to living systems (in vivo). The researchers expect new insights into the function of different RNA variants in living cells.

  Stefanie Dimmeler and Harald Schwalbe agree: “The continuing funding of RNA research in Frankfurt will help Goethe University bolster its status as pioneer in this field." 

Further Information: Prof Stefanie Dimmeler, Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, Faculty of Medicine, Niederrad Campus, phone: +49 69 6301- 6667,
Prof Harald Schwalbe, Institute for Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Faculty of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy, Riedberg Campus, phone: +49 69 798-29737,


May 23 2019

Goethe University researchers create postgraduate academy in Bamako (Mali) – almost € 1 million in funding from the Gerda Henkel Stiftung

Strengthening fundamental research in Africa 

FRANKFURT. Researchers from Goethe University and the University of Basel are creating a postgraduate academy in Bamako (Mali). The project, entitled “Pilot Africa Postgraduate Academy" (PAPA), has received € 973,000 from the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. The aim is to strengthen fundamental research in the humanities and social sciences in Africa. 

The sponsored project “Pilot African Postgraduate Academy" (PAPA) is aimed at early career researchers who have recently completed their doctoral degree in the area of humanities or social sciences and who work at universities in Africa. The goal is to deepen their understanding of the value of science for its own sake and foster their interest in conceptual fundamental research. “Africa is not only in need of applied research based on the needs of the development industry, but of excellent research that makes a contribution to the further development of global knowledge production as well, both in substance and in method," says Professor Diawara from the Institute for Ethnology at Goethe University, who conceived the Academy together with Professor Elisio Macamo from the University of Basel. 

“This project is unique in that the Henkel Stiftung is deliberately promoting the quality of fundamental research in Africa – not career paths or applied research," says Project Coordinator Dr Stefan Schmid from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Africa Research (ZIAF) at Goethe University. In 2018, Professor Diawara and Professor Macamo approached the Gerda Henkel Stiftung with the idea of developing a project for early career African researchers that was fundamentally different from the usual programmes. Together they will receive € 973,000 in funding from the foundation. The academy will be attached to the independent research centre “Point Sud" in Bamako, Mali, founded by Prof. Mamadou Diawara in 1997. 

An educational programme will be set up at the new academy which will encourage the scholars to engage in critical dialogue with their disciplines, the area studies and their identity as scientists with fundamental epistemological questions. The intensive education and supervision of these carefully selected young scientists will enable them to teach and publish at a new level after completing the three-year PAPA cycle.

Twice a year, there will be two-week workshops for 15 selected early career researchers and up to four established academics in Bamako. A mentoring programme will connect high-ranking researchers and award-winners with their homeland institutions. In addition, a strong network will be made available to scientists and academics from francophone African countries living both within and outside of Africa for exchange and common projects. 

The project is focused on early career researchers from seven francophone African countries that despite notable progress continue to play only a minor role in global knowledge production. The independent and established researching institution in Mali, Point Sud, constitutes the centre of this project due to its longstanding expertise and far-reaching network with partners throughout Africa. The Centre has been financed by Goethe University since 2003. The PAPA programme will be supported by selected mentors from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Mali, Niger and Senegal, who will supervise the scholarship winners and implement the idea of the academy in their scientific environment. Together with the project “The bureaucratization of African Society" in Dakar, the newly founded Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) in Accra, MIASA, the IAS in Stellenbosch and Nantes, and the new Africa Excellence Cluster at the University of Beyreuth, an entire network exists with an express interest in taking the Fellows' career development to a new level at the end of the project cycle. 

The project will be set up at Goethe University and coordinated jointly by Dr Stefan Schmid from Goethe University's Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies (ZIAF) and a new project coordinator at Pont Sud in Bamako. It is scheduled to start in July 2019 and will initially run until July 2022. 

Further information: Dr Stefan Schmid, General Manager of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Africa Research (ZIAF), Westend Campus, Phone: +49 69 798-32097, E-Mail


May 22 2019

EU-Project BRIGHTER sets its sights on 3D bioprinting systems with light sheet lithography

Producing tissue and organs through lithography

FRANKFURT. The production of artificial organs is a hot research topic. In the near future, artificial organs will compensate for the lack of organ donations and replace animal experiments. Although there are already promising experiments with 3D printers that use a "bio-ink" containing living cells, a functional organ has never been created in this way. A European consortium coordinated by Dr Elena Martinez (IBEC, Barcelona, Spain) and involving the Goethe University Frankfurt is now breaking new ground. The consortium is developing a lithography method that relies on light sheet illumination and on special photosensitive hydrogels that are mixed with living cells. 

Bio-printing systems that build up structures layer by layer (bottom-up approach) have considerable disadvantages. On the one hand, the printing process takes far too long, so that the survival chances of the cells in the bio-ink and in the polymerised layers considerably decrease. Furthermore, the extrusion pressure leads to a considerable cell death rate, especially for stem cells. In addition, the resolution of the method, around 300 micrometers, is far too low to reproduce the delicate structures of natural tissue. Finally, it is particularly difficult to integrate complex hollow structures, e.g. blood vessels, into the cell tissue. 

"With our project, we want to go the other way round by developing a top-down lithography method," explains Dr. Francesco Pampaloni from the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) at Goethe University. The process works in a similar way to lithography in semiconductor technology. Instead of the semiconductor and the photosensitive layer, which is illuminated by a mask, a hydrogel with photosensitive molecules is used. This is exposed to a thin laser light sheet using the technique invented by Prof. Ernst Stelzer for light sheet microscopy. This leads to the formation of branched chain structures (polymers) that serve as a matrix for colonisation by living cells. The remaining, still liquid hydrogel is washed out. 

"This method will enable us to adjust the spatial structure and the stiffness with an unprecedented resolution so that we can create the same heterogeneous microstructures that cells find in natural tissues," explains Pampaloni. Pampaloni expects that completely new possibilities will emerge for the bio-fabrication of complex tissues and their anatomical microstructures. In addition, the specific properties of the matrix can be used to introduce stem cells into well-defined compartments or to enable the formation of vessels. Further advantages over conventional 3D printing systems are high speed and cost-effective production. 

BRIGHTER stands for "Bioprinting by light sheet lithography: engineering complex tissues with high resolution at high speed". Starting in July 2019, the project will be funded for three years as part of the European Union's renowned and highly selective "Future and Emerging Technologies" (FET) Open Horizon 2020 Programme. BRIGHTER will be financed with a total of € 3,450,000, of which € 700,000 will go to a team led by Dr. Pampaloni in Prof. Stelzer's Physical Biology Group in the Biosciences Department of the Goethe University. Further partners are the IBEC (Barcelona, Spain, coordination), Technion (Haifa, Israel) and the companies Cellendes (Reutlingen, Germany) and Mycronic (Täby, Sweden). 

An image may be downloaded here:
Caption: Light sheet bio-printing. A hydrogel composed of living cells and photosensitive molecules is deposited in a special cuvette. A thin laser light sheet illuminates the gel following a programmed pattern (green beam). This leads to the formation of 3D micro-structures that reproduce the tissue architecture and function. The remaining, still liquid hydrogel is washed out after the printing process.
Credit: F. Pampaloni, BRIGHTER, 2019 

Further information: Dr Francesco Pampaloni, Physical Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Riedberg Campus, Phone: (069) 798-42544,,