Key research areas


Normative Orders

The Frankfurt Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” explores the development of normative orders with a focus on contemporary conflicts. Normative orders are understood in this context as historically grounded “orders of justification” based upon “justification narratives”. Researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, such as philosophy, history, political science and legal studies, as well as anthropology, economics, theology and sociology, cooperate within this research alliance.

For further information see (    

Empirical Educational Research – IDeA Center

The Center for Research on Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk (IDeA) adresses individual learning processes of children with social and (neuro-)cognitive learning risks, and seeks to develop supportive learning environments. Research at the IDeA-Center is characterized by innovative multidisciplinary approaches, using both quantitative and qualitative methods.     

Structural Biology

Internationally leading scientists from four departments of the Goethe University and two Max Planck Institutes have joined forces in Frankfurt to address the structure, function, mechanisms and dynamic assembly of macromolecular complexes in cells using an unparalleled range of powerful techniques. That macromolecular complexes play crucial roles in virtually all cellular processes in all organisms has long been known. These cellular macromolecules are the basis of virtually all fundamental aspects of life. Yet owing to their sheer size, scarcity or fragility, most of these complexes are largely unexplored in terms of their structure and molecular mechanisms. The goal of the scientists involved in this research area is not only to understand the molecular structure of these macromolecular complexes and how it affects their function but also to comprehend their roles in the inner workings of cells and how minute changes can cause major diseases. This knowledge will be crucial in the design of new disease treatments.    

Cell and Gene Therapy

Cellular therapeutics and gene therapy have high innovation potential and broad implication for various human diseases. Therefore, advances in the current understanding of the basic biology of human stem cells open new perspectives for the development of innovative therapeutics. Regenerative medicine using stem cell and gene therapy-based therapeutics is anticipated to have profound implications for the treatment of multiple human diseases.      


The key goal of the oncology program is to identify common oncogenic signaling networks between different cancer entities and to explain clinical features of cancer in molecular terms. The perspective is to develop novel diagnostic and prognostic markers and to identify new therapeutic targets for personalized cancer treatment in order to drive innovative early clinical studies towards targeted, personalized cancer medicine. In a bidirectional approach, clinical cases of treatment resistance are reverse-translated into molecular studies to identify the underlying resistance mechanisms as the basis for the rational design of novel therapeutics.       

Biodiversity and Climate Research

Biodiversity loss and climate change are among today's great challenges. To understand them and their close and numerous interactions, science has to address and bridge both processes. In a unique way, the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) combines methods from Geosciences and Biosciences , from genome analyses to coupled ocean-biosphere-climate modeling, and integrates knowledge and infrastructure from a wide array of fields contributing to our understanding of earth system and biological dynamics through time.

BiK-F's main emphasis is on biodiversity research, but it includes strong research groups from other fields, and this combination offers one of the most diverse selection of high-quality scientists in one place. An interdisciplinary team of about 130 scientists conducts research on the various interactions between organismic biodiversity and climate. They document and analyze geological, evolutional and ecological events and processes from the past and the present, at regional and global scales in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

The results are used to generate future projections and provide a basis for informed decision-making, thus contributing to the implementation of several international agreements.

The LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) is the largest of the excellence centres established and funded within the framework of the State of Hesses initiative for scientific and economic excellence (LOEWE). It has been cofounded by the Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main (GU) and the Senckenberg Nature Research Society in 2008, together with the renowned Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE).


Economics, Finance and Management

Goethe University and the Center for Financial Studies (CFS) launched their new joint Center of Excellence “Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe” (S A F E) which is dedicated to top-level scientific research and research-based policy advice in the area of finance. SAFE will investigate the requirements for an optimal regulatory framework for financial markets and their players.

The research program follows a comprehensive approach with five key research areas – financial institutions, corporate governance, household finance, financial markets, macro finance – and two so-called research labs (on systemic risk and on transparency) with a special focus on interaction and collaboration. Other unique characteristics of SAFE’s research program are its extensive visitors program, and the collection and provision of data sets that reflect the features of European institutions and households. SAFE receives funding from the State of Hessen’s “LOEWE” excellence initiative.