Since 2007, the UA Ruhr has been conducting inter-university top-level research at an internationally outstanding level. The excellent achievements are expressed in research priorities with a high level of third-party funding as well as Collaborative Research Centers and Research Training Groups. These cooperation structures, which have been tried and tested over many years, and the active cooperation between researchers distinguish the UA Ruhr as an attractive research location.


Established in 2007, the UA Ruhr has developed into a dynamic and high-performing alliance with international visibility thanks to its manifold joint research initiatives and the consolidation of the complementary strengths of its members. Together, we attain staffing levels and infrastructure on the scale that is required to generate future-proof solutions for the major research topics of our time. Our research activities fall under the following categories:

Exzellence Strategy

For the competition as part of the federal and state governments’ Excellence Strategy, the UA Ruhr has submitted four projects with the aim of acquiring funding from 2026, among them two applications for the continuation of existing Clusters of Excellence.

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Cluster of Excellence RESOLV

The RESOLV – Ruhr Explores Solvation Cluster of Excellence has been receiving funding since 2012. Here, scientists from Ruhr University Bochum and TU Dortmund University conduct research in order to understand, predict and control solvation processes, with the participation of colleagues from the University of Duisburg-Essen and other partners outside the university context.

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Cluster of Excellence CASA

The CASA – Cyber Security in the Age of Large-Scale Adversaries Cluster of Excellence has been developing solutions in order to enhance the security that is indispensable in our digital society since 2019. The cluster is hosted by Ruhr University Bochum; researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen are also involved.

Two clusters in which the UA Ruhr participated in preparing draft proposals were admitted to the second stage of the application process in February 2024:

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Cluster of Excellence proposal REASONS

"REASONS – River Ecosystems in the Anthroposcene – sustainable scientific SOlutioNS" aims to develop a sustainable concept for the management of freshwater ecosystems. The spokesperson for this project is affiliated with the University of Duisburg-Essen . Researchers from Ruhr University Bochum and other partners participate in the project.

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Cluster of Excellence proposal Color meets Flavor

"Color meets Flavor" is a project from the field of particle physics. Here, TU Dortmund University cooperates with the University of Bonn, the University of Siegen and Forschungszentrum Jülich. The scientists strive to discover new phenomena in the interaction between elementary particles.

Research Alliance Ruhr

Top-level international research at the UA Ruhr has been consolidated in four research centers and one college under the umbrella of the Research Alliance Ruhr since 2021. About 50 new professorships will be established here. The four research centers are concerned with important issues of the future relating to health, sustainability, digitalization and the energy transition, while the College promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and international cooperation in the social sciences and humanities of the UA Ruhr.

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Research Center One Health Ruhr - From Molecules to Systems

The Research Center One Health Ruhr deals with the fundamental mechanisms of health and illness – from the molecular level to the higher-level system. Leading researchers from molecular biology and water research, molecular cancer research and neuroscience collaborate in an interdisciplinary manner here. The researchers’ mission is to develop a landmark project on the topic of health and its significance for humans and the environment as well as the interconnectedness of all three that can serve as an example internationally.

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Research Center Chemical Sciences and Sustainability

The Chemical Sciences and Sustainability research center is the pacemaker for pioneering research into the understanding of chemical reactions, processes and products at the molecular level. The focus is on innovative, eco-friendly and commercially competitive technological applications in various areas of chemistry – from building materials through to pharmaceuticals.

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Research Center Trustworthy Data Science and Security

How can trustworthy intelligent systems in security-relevant applications be designed? This is what the Trustworthy Data Science and Security research center explores. A unique, human-centered research approach covers the entire interdisciplinary research spectrum of trustworthy data analytics, explainable machine learning and privacy-aware algorithms.

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Research Center Future Energy Materials and Systems

Finding sustainable materials for the energy applications of the future is the objective of the Future Energy Materials and Systems research center. Its focus is on exploring fundamental properties and processes relevant to the production and application of complex materials. The aim is to create key components for a sustainable energy system and, at the same time, to replace energy-intensive procedures for producing and processing materials with regenerative approaches.

College for Social Sciences and Humanities

The College for Social Sciences and Humanities promotes excellence in research in the social sciences and humanities of the UA Ruhr and advances international cooperation. It provides opportunities for innovative research projects and facilitates interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration. Its cornerstones are research professorships, research groups, and an international Senior Fellowship Programme that offers advanced international scholars research fellowships at the UA Ruhr.

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Competence Fields

The UA Ruhr has established structures for long-term inter-university research in four competence fields.

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Materials Chain

Materials Chain concentrates and consolidates research in the field of materials science within the UA Ruhr. The objective is to comprehensively and continuously examine the entire materials chain – from the finished structural component down to the atom and the other way around.

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Metropolitan Research (KoMet)

The competence field of Metropolitan Research (KoMet) constitutes an internationally visible center for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary studies on urban agglomerations in the heart of the “Reallabor Ruhr” living lab.

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In the Energy – System – Transformation competence field, research is conducted across universities and in an interdisciplinary manner. Its goal is to advance the energy transition holistically by means of select technologies and considering economic and social correlations.

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Empirical Economic Research

The Empirical Economic Research (EWF) competence field analyzes economic and social developments in order to identify their effects at an early stage and evaluate economic policy actions based on data. The objective is to contribute to evidence-based politics. For this purpose, the UA Ruhr closely collaborates with RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research.

Joint research institutes

The UA Ruhr comprises four joint research institutes.


Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities

The Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) is the UA Ruhr’s interdisciplinary research college for the humanities and cultural sciences and stands in the tradition of international institutes for advanced study. It has been jointly run by the three partner universities since 2007.

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Ruhr Astroparticle and Plasma Physics Center

In the Ruhr Astroparticle and Plasma Physics Center (RAPP Center), Ruhr University Bochum, TU Dortmund University and the University of Duisburg-Essen combine their competences in the three fields of particle physics, astrophysics and plasma physics in order to better understand the laws and properties of the universe. The RAPP Center was established in 2015.

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Alliance for Research in East Asia

Founded in 2016, the Alliance for Research on East Asia (AREA Ruhr) is a joint research institution of UDE and RUB With more than 20 professorships, it is one of Europe’s largest research alliances for East Asian studies in.

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Mercator Institute for China Studies

Ever since its establishment in 2013, the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin has been an affiliated institute of Ruhr University and UDE. It was initiated by the Stiftung Mercator foundation for the purpose of enhancing knowledge and discussions about China in Germany and Europe.

Collaborative research

The collaborative research centers (SFB) and transregional research centers (TR) funded by the German Research Foundation are an essential part of UA Ruhr’s top-level research. A total of 21 collaborative research centers are currently underway within the UA Ruhr as spokespersons or co-applicants, seven of which extend across our partner universities.

  • SFB 1280: Extinction learning (RUB, UDE)
  • SFB 1430: Molecular Mechanisms of Cell State Transitions (UDE, TU Dortmund)
  • SFB 1439: RESIST – Multilevel response to stressor increase and release in stream ecosystems (UDE, RUB)
  • SFB 1491: Cosmic Interacting Matters (RUB, TU Dortmund)
  • SFB 1625: Atomic-Scale Understanding and Design of Multifunctional Surfaces (RUB, UDE)
  • TRR 196: Mobile material characterization and localization by electromagnetic sensing (UDE, RUB)
  • TRR 247: Heterogeneous oxidation catalysis in the liquid phase (RUB, UDE)

Support for early career researchers

The UA Ruhr supports early career researchers on their career path – from prospective doctoral candidates to junior professors.

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Research Academy Ruhr

Since 2017, the Research Academy Ruhr has developed into one of the best performing and largest platforms for promoting early career researchers in Germany. Approximately 10,000 early career researchers within the UA Ruhr benefit from the services offered by the Research Academy.

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Research training groups and doctoral programs

Over 40 research training groups and doctoral programs provide early career researchers within the UA Ruhr with the best research and development opportunities and support

Research support

Together with the Stiftung Mercator, the UA Ruhr provides funding for joint research projects in the form of MERCUR grants. In addition, the UA Ruhr offers various services ranging from research data management and dual career consultation to advice on research transfer issues.

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Mercator Research Center Ruhr

The Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) has been supporting our unique cooperation since 2010 and has already made €60 million available for collaborative research projects. More than 300 projects have received funding to date, among them several UA Ruhr professorships.

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Research Data Management Organizer

With the Research Data Management Organiser, the UA Ruhr offers a research data management tool across the universities that all UA Ruhr researchers have access to.

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Founder Initiative Ruhr

The Founder Initiative Ruhr is a UA Ruhr platform for aligning activities in the fields of support for starting a company and knowledge and technology transfer. Since 2017, it has been operated by TU Dortmund University’s Centrum für Entrepreneurship & Transfer (CET), Ruhr University Bochum’s Worldfactory and the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Centre for Start-Ups and Innopreneurship (GUIDE).

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Dual Career Netzwerk Ruhr

The UA Ruhr is a member in the Dual Career Network Ruhr (DCN Ruhr), which supports the partners of newly appointed academic staff in finding their feet in the area professionally. More than 30 scientific and administration institutions in the Ruhr area have been cooperating here under the coordination of the Ruhr Regional Association since 2020.

Performance indicators

The UA Ruhr is one of Germany’s best-performing research associations.

  • Professorships: 1,300, of which 50 are in the Research Alliance Ruhr
  • Researchers: 14,000
  • Doctoral degrees: more than 1,000 per year
  • External funding: €440 million per year (2022)
  • Collaborative research centers: 21 as spokespersons or co-applicants, of which seven are run jointly
  • Excellence Strategy: 2 existing Clusters of Excellence, 2 successful draft proposals
  • Research buildings: 8
  • Doctoral programs: > 40, of which 15 are run jointly