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The 2017 detection of gravitational waves, with the accompanying electromagnetic emission, from merging neutron stars have revealed that we are at a pivotal point in our understanding of matter and gravity. The Research Cluster ELEMENTS brings together world-leading scientists from distinct fields of research – the physics of particles and nuclei, the gravitational physics of merging neutron stars, the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements – to address the question of the origin of the heavy chemical elements in our Universe. ELEMENTS capitalizes on a solid basis of already existing research structures: the CRC-TR 211 investigating strong-interaction matter under extreme conditions using first-principle methods such as lattice Quantum Chromodynamics, the CRC 1245 advancing ab-initio calculations of nuclei and nuclear matter and their application to astrophysical environments, the RTG 2128 promoting research training in particle-accelerator science, the LOEWE project “Nuclear Photonics” studying photonuclear reactions, and the Helmholtz Research Academy for FAIR (HFHF) providing academic support for the FAIR project. From these coordinated programs, ELEMENTS recruits an excellent and diverse group of Principal Investigators, decorated with outstanding scientific prizes and awards, such as eleven ERC grants and the only Humboldt professorship in Hesse. Experimentally, the research program benefits from the world-wide unique particle-accelerator infrastructure in the Darmstadt-Frankfurt area, including GSI and the international FAIR accelerator complex becoming operational in 2025 and the superconducting electron accelerator S-DALINAC at Darmstadt. On the theory side, highly advanced High-Performance Computing resources are provided by the Goethe-CSC and the Lichtenberg-II computer clusters.