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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 20 | 22. April 2013
Priority Programme “Functional Specialisations of Neuroglia as Critical Determinants of Brain Activity” (SPP 1757)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established a new Priority Programme entitled “Functional Specialisations of Neuroglia as Critical Determinants of Brain Activity” (SPP 1757). The programme will run for an initial period of three years and is extendable to six years.

The human brain is an extraordinary complex structure, consisting of about 80 billion neurones, connected by numerous synapses, and of an equal number of neuroglial cells. The latter, subdivided into astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, radial glia and NG2 cells, execute essential brain functions among them metabolic support, ion homeostasis and synaptic modulation. In contrast to neurones, each class of macroglia has been usually considered a largely homogeneous cell population. Recent research, however, has provided strong evidence that this picture is entirely wrong. Macroglial cells in fact consist of various subpopulations, each equipped with a distinct repertoire of molecules and proteins such as ion channels, receptors, transporters and signalling elements. Thus, macroglial cells have developed functional specialisations to meet the specific requirements of distinct circuits, which might be critical determinants of brain activity.

The primary goal of the Priority Programme is to understand glial cell specialisation and to elucidate its role in the mammalian brain. Specifically, the following questions shall be addressed:

  • What defines functional heterogeneity of macroglial cells and where does it occur?

  • What are the mechanisms that generate heterogeneity?

  • What are the consequences of glial heterogeneity for brain function?

To foster optimal synergy and collaboration between groups, the following topics are explicitly excluded: glial cells of the peripheral nervous system, microglia, merely descriptive comparisons of different macroglial cell types, pathology of CNS diseases, injury, degeneration and regeneration processes, projects based purely on cell culture.

Special emphasis will be given to the acquisition and analysis of cell-specific gene profiling data as well as collaborative experimental animal models. Each applicant will receive support by coordinating teams in (1) cell physiology, (2) development and (3) methodology to identify synergisms and optimise interactions between individual research projects. In addition, the Priority Programme will provide a setting to enable active support for early career scientists and to promote gender equality. Applications for the first three-years funding period should be written in English and submitted by 30 September 2013 via the electronic elan system, choosing “Schwerpunktprogramm” and selecting “SPP 1757 – Functional Specialisations of Neuroglia as Critical Determinants of Brain Activity” on the menu. Furthermore please send an electronic version (pdf format) of the application to the coordinators (see below).

Further information

For further scientific information please refer to the Priority Programme’s website:

The proposals need to follow the guidelines for Priority Programmes (DFG-Vordruck 50.05 [06/12]) and should be prepared according to the Proposal Preparation Instructions (DFG-Vordruck 54.01 [10/12]). These forms can be found here:

Please submit the proposal via the electronic system elan:

Contact persons for questions related to the SPP 1757 are the scientific coordinators:

Contact person for questions related to the application or review process: