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Strength through Cooperation – Jena's Researchers Set Their Stakes on Networking

In this day and age, many discoveries would no longer be possible if confined within the limits of a singular discipline rather than aided by cooperation above and beyond departmental boundaries.

Example Biophotonics

Take, for example, biophotonics: with the help of highly specialized optical methods – such as Raman-spectroscopy – chemical, biological and medical questions can be addressed. Among other things, the contents of food products from plant and animal sources, such as canola oil or yoghurt, can be characterized with the help of spectroscopic methods. In addition, a process is being developed in conjunction with industry to quickly and accuratly identify microorganism such as bacteria and single-celled fungi. This procedure can have great ramifications for industrial "clean rooms" and could play a significant role in the comprehensive and extensive early diagnosis of illnesses. Such research is made possible by intense networking amoung institution within and ouside the university as well as industry.

Networking also plays an important role elsewhere, for example for Jena's collaborative research centres (SFB) "Metal Mediated Reactions Modeled after Nature“ in chemistry and the transregionally organized physics SFB "Gravitational Wave Astronomy – Methods, Sources, Observation". Scientists from Jena's university are currently participating (either fully or in sub-projects) in seven of the collaborative research centres that receive funding from the German Research Association (DFG). This documents the succesfull recruitment of high-ranking projects financed by third parties. Jena is proud of the SFB "Social developments after structural change. Discontinuity, tradition, stuctural formation " because it is one of only two national SFBs in the field of social sciences. Closely tied to the region is the SFB 482 "Phenomenon Weimar-Jena. Culture around 1800". The project defines itself as an "observation of the cultural condensation around 1800 in the regions of Weimar with its Residence and Jena and its University". They continue by saying that "the events in Jena and Weimar culminated during Enlightentment, the change from a world-organizing idea to a world-planning idea comes within reach. Within this culmination lies the connecting point in the development from natural history to natural sciences." Not only is this SFB set up interdisciplinarily, it continues to connect that which was the specialty of this region 200 years ago: the twin cities of Jena and Weimar – the project still unites scientists from both cities.

Example Big Projects

But collaborative research centres are not the only projects drawn in by the reputation of Jena. Further DFG-emphasis programms and teams of researchers are stationed at the Jena University. Add to that numerous european and international projects within which scientists from Jena strive for innovation, and it is easy to see how this invites important resources and jobs necessary for further research into Jena.

Furthermore, in Jena exists an Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research with the following four sections: clinically oriented neuro science, rheumatic and autoimmune diseases, clinically-experimental oncology and hemostasiological and cardiovascular medicin. At the same time a biomedical focus was founded on the basis of three former research teams of the Max-Planck Society, which already resulted in one SFB on "Multifunctional Signaling Proteins" and a graduate research college on "Biomolecular switches". Numerous important publications in renowned magazines are a further sign of the successful scientific investigations in Jena.

Example Medicine

Medicine has a long tradition at the Jena University, and is counted among the four founding departments of the University. Even its first president, Johannes Schröter, was a doctor of medicine. In the past centuries the department produced many outstanding representatives and forged a medicine oriented on natural sciences. As pioneering feat of the Jenaer medicine the new independent branches of the 20th century are to be considered: Among others, Hans Berger as the discoverer of human brain waves and the EEG, worked at the Jena University.

The Department of Medicine is the only medical institution of scientific education in the state of Thuringia and runs the only clinical university center in this state. A great portion of its institutes and clinics are united within one newly constructed, modern facility in the Lobeda section of the city. This institution now provides care for patients from within and beyond the borders of Thuringia who call on the services in the clinic's areas from anesthesiology and intensive care to dental and orthosurgical medicine. Doctors from all over the world come to Jena to receive further education, for example in the field of hand surgery. Furthermore, medical research of the highest quality is pursued within the clinics and institutes.

Example Ethics

In modern medicine the main focus is on optimizing care for the patient. But recent results of research keep dredging up new ethical questions. A societal consensus on the use of genetic engineering or the use of animal organs in transplantations are as much pre-requisite to new forms of therapy as clincal studies. The University takes that into account with its ethics center. Although it doesn’t offer ready made solutions it provides help with decisionmaking for representatives of politics, industry, sience, organisations and churches. Aside from bio- and medical ethics questions of industrial, scientific, environmental and information-technological ethics belong to the tasks of the university's ethic center, which thus integrates into the spectrum of fields at the university. Since the winter semester of 2003/ 04 students can study applied ethics as a minor.

Thus a course of studies has been implemented which meets with the demands of current political and societal discussions – and it is not the only one! Since the winter semester of 2004/ 05 the Faculty for Chemical and Earth Sciences, as well as the Faculty for Biology and Pharmacy offer the multidisciplinary course of study "applied environmental studies". The pragmatic focus will provide students with an optimal preparation for careers in fields of engineering and planning as well as in communities, government offices, and associations. In order to meet with national and international standarts the university is currently modularizing all courses of study, accompanied by its center for didactics in research and application.

Example Cooperations

The Friedrich Schiller University makes every effort to react fast and appropriatly to new societal and professional demands. This is visible in the almost historical cooperation between the university, the city, and its industry. Already 100 years ago Jena had what we now would call a "privat-public-partnership", the close cooperation of sciences with industry. Abbe and Zeiss where the shining examples, and to this day we follow their path into the future. A connecting network has been added to this partnership between university, college, institutes and research groups not affiliated with the university, and the local industry. This has turned the traditional optics-location into a new German "Optical Valley". Also, the university has an established network of cooperations and connections all over the globe. The Friedrich Schiller University works together with about 250 other universities and research institutions, and even more economic partners in many part of the world – research knows almost no boundaries in Jena! Also extraordinary is the international graduate college of psychology, where young scientists are researching the "Conflict and Cooperation Between Social Groups" together with renowned psychologists.

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