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Forward-looking research: Goethe University and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research sign cooperation agreement

Framework for research, education and exploitation projects

The Goethe University Frankfurt and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig have concluded a framework cooperation agreement with the aim of promoting and intensifying water research through joint research projects and training scientists in the early stages of their careers - for example doctoral students, postdocs or junior group leaders - with each other in interdisciplinary environmental research.

Water is an existential ingredient of life for humans, animals, and plants. Currently, 2.2 billion people have no access to safe drinking water, and up to 90 percent of all wastewater worldwide is discharged untreated into the environment. Many wastewater-borne chemicals and trace substances lead to harmful effects in aquatic ecosystems and a decline in biodiversity. Contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. In addition, there are catastrophic effects on humans and the environment brought about by droughts or floods, which also have dramatic consequences in industrialized nations. Climate change is altering the water cycle and will pose even greater challenges for the sustainable management of water resources in the future. These challenges are being met by the two excellent research institutions in strategic cooperation.

Prof. Dr. Enrico Schleiff, President of Goethe University Frankfurt, emphasizes the strengths of the two partners: "In particular, our Department of Biosciences and the thematic area "Chemicals in the Environment" of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research each have expertise that complements each other excellently. In terms of research strategy, we are united by the goal of linking environmental research more closely with health research in the sense of the One Health approach on the one hand, and further linking it with biodiversity research on the other. This includes, in particular, the training of scientists in the early professional phase who, for example, will be able to use the research infrastructures of both partners and participate in courses and events in the future."

Prof. Dr. Georg Teutsch, Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, says: "Together with Goethe University, we want to launch joint research projects, for example on how chemicals affect biodiversity or to investigate the interactions between environment and health at the molecular level. To this end, we will strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration between cell biology, neuroscience, translational biodiversity genomics, environmental health research, and research on environmental chemicals and landscape use. In addition, we will support each other in the exploitation of, for example, inventions made by our scientists in the course of this research."

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