Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren


Lena River Delta. picture: Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

The Helmholtz Association contributes to the illumination of complex systems which determine human life and environment. The Association develops solutions for questions that are of upmost importance for future society: a secure and reliable energy supply, sustainable use of resources, future mobility or the treatment of previously incurable diseases. But our work also addresses questions of a more fundamental nature, such as the origin of the universe.

The scientific portfolio of the Association is divided into six strategic research fields: Energy; Earth and Environment; Health; Key Technologies; Matter; and Aeronautics, Space and Transport. Helmholtz brings together 18 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres. With nearly 38,000 employees and an annual budget of almost €4 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organisation.

Every other month we will present one of the six research fields. This month:

Earth and Environment

The global challenge is to provide the basic and applied knowledge necessary to secure and sustain the foundations of human life on a long-term basis. Key tasks include development of strategies for efficient use of natural resources, research of natural phenomena and their associated risks, and assessment of human impact on natural systems and the repercussions for humanity.

Earth and Environment research programmes:

The research field currently consists of five programmes.

Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems
Atmosphere and Climate
Terrestrial Environment

Initiatives in the Research Field Earth and Environment

The Helmholtz Association retains sole responsibility for content © 2015 Helmholtz Association.

1 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Region: Global
Subject/journal group: All

The table to the right includes counts of all research outputs for Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres published between 1 January 2018 - 31 December 2018 which are tracked by the Nature Index.

Hover over the donut graph to view the FC output for each subject. Below, the same research outputs are grouped by subject. Click on the subject to drill-down into a list of articles organized by journal, and then by title.

Note: Articles may be assigned to more than one subject area.

2036 478.01

Outputs by subject (FC)

Subject AC FC
Life Sciences 658 105.47
Chemistry 438 114.09
Physical Sciences 783 172.27
Earth & Environmental Sciences 416 140.62

Highlight of the month

How we ‘know that face’

© Lana Isabella/Moment/Getty

© Lana Isabella/Moment/Getty

A brain development mechanism that defies convention and improves our ability to recognize faces has been identified and published in Science.

An international research collaboration, including Helmholtz scientists, compared MRI scans, memory function tests, and samples from cadavers to better understand the relationship between anatomical and functional brain development. The team learned that, between childhood and adulthood, the brain area handling facial recognition — the fusiform gyrus — experienced proliferation and maturation of the cell structures that aid neural processing.

The changes, including the production of cellular insulation and the generation of neuron ‘branches,’ correlated with an improved proficiency for the processing of faces. The developments were also shown to be associated with the brain area’s increasing specialization for the task.

New brain function and behaviour has traditionally been thought of solely as a product of ‘pruning,’ where the infant brain overproduces synaptic connections before cutting them back to facilitate mature brain function. Specific to the fusiform gyrus, the findings suggest another model of neurological development.

Supported content

  1. Science 355, 68–71 (2017). doi: 10.1126/science.aag0311

View the article on the Nature Index

1 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

International vs. domestic collaboration by FC

  • 28.47% Domestic
  • 71.53% International

Note: Hover over the graph to view the percentage of collaboration.

Top 10 domestic collaborators by FC (296 total)

  • Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Germany
  • Domestic institution
  1. Max Planck Society, Germany (104.98)
  2. RWTH Aachen University (RWTH Aachen), Germany (65.38)
  3. Heidelberg University (Uni Heidelberg), Germany (65.01)
  4. Leibniz Association, Germany (60.90)
  5. Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany (55.17)
  6. Free University of Berlin (FU Berlin), Germany (54.05)
  7. Humboldt University of Berlin (HU Berlin), Germany (53.65)
  8. University of Hamburg (UHH), Germany (47.19)
  9. Charité - University Medicine Berlin, Germany (43.74)
  10. Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (LMU), Germany (41.67)

Note: Collaboration is determined by the fractional count (FC), which is listed in parentheses.

Affiliated joint institutions and consortia

Return to institution outputs