Science is the result of research

How many ideas are not abstractly floating in my mind which might result in the greatest discovery if a couple of them came together.” The German physicist who the Lichtenberg professorship is named after, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), expressed what can be applied to the whole research landscape. As the hope of a great discovery is also what brings talented researchers with promising ideas together in working groups. It is therefore sensible, if not always easy, to constantly establish new scientific fields at universities.

The Volkswagen Foundation’s Lichtenberg professorships promote outstanding talented scientists from innovative fields of teaching and research and assist them in permanently establishing these at a university of their choice.

Professor Dr. med. Dr. Stefan Schrader received such a Lichtenberg professorship in ophthalmology in June 2014. The Senior Physician at Düsseldorf University Hospital’s eye hospital is also the Medical Director of the Laboratory for Experimental Ophthalmology there at the same time.

His research deals with the development of new treatment processes for ocular surface disorders and serious tear deficiency.  The specific goal is to be able to apply new techniques to regenerate and reconstruct the conjunctiva and corneal surface as well as tear ducts in patients in just a few years. With great prospects of success, after all Schrader’s research group is one of the world’s leading groups in this field.

Another foundation-funded professorship is the Heisenberg professorship at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). It also pursues the goal of establishing new focuses at German universities. For this it prepares the funded students for scientific leadership positions and promises them a permanent university professorship afterwards.

Professor Dr. med. Jörg Distler holds such a professorship. He leads the working group on research into the pathological activation of fibroblasts with scleroderma and other fibrotic diseases at the Department of Medicine 3 for rheumatology and clinical immunology at the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen. His working group’s research is translational, which means that it focuses on clinical application. With success – a substantial part of the clinical studies currently being carried out worldwide in the field of systemic sclerosis stem from his working group’s results.