Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 95 | 3. November 2021

Priority Programme “Spatial Genome Architecture in Development and Disease” (SPP 2202)

In 2019, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Spatial Genome Architecture in Development and Disease” (SPP 2202). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Eukaryotic genomes carry the information that defines both general and specific characteristics of each cell type. However, the linear DNA sequence alone often fails to predict cellular functions and phenotypic outcomes. In fact, genomic information is modified and regulated by a number of additional layers. One of these, the spatial folding of chromosomes, has been recently identified as a major factor for gene regulation. This folding is established through binding of transcription factors as well as via epigenetic mechanisms and biophysical forces (like phase separation) that act in a concerted manner to regulate gene expression. Therefore, studying the principles of three-dimensional (3D) chromatin folding will allow us to unravel its contribution in gene regulation, development and disease.

The primary goal of this Priority Programme is to dissect the structure-to-function relationship of the genomes of higher metazoans at high spatio-temporal resolution in study systems relevant to genome integrity, development or disease. We aim at bringing together a critical mass of research groups to undertake functional and mechanistic studies in vitro and in vivo, using model systems and human samples, to deepen our understanding of how spatial genome architecture cross talks with the aforementioned processes. Proposed projects should have a clear and substantial focus on mechanisms and forces driving or maintaining 3D chromatin folding and its role in gene regulation. Collaborative or stand-alone projects implementing a combination of advanced molecular biology tools, precision genetic mapping and editing, super‐resolution and/or live‐cell imaging with novel computational approaches are envisaged.

All projects should include one or more of the following goals:

  • develop and apply novel technologies that can capture spatial chromatin conformation, also in conjunction with other genomic features (e.g., transcription, histone modifications, DNA methylation), to resolve and track features of genomic architecture in the nucleus down to the single cell-level
  • functionally dissect the impact of 3D chromatin folding on gene expression or genome integrity in in vitro and in vivo model systems or human samples during development cell differentiation
  • causally connect 3D chromatin folding with disease pathology by integrating precision genome editing and patient data and/or disease models
  • develop and apply novel computational approaches that will allow us to integrate, visualise, and quantitatively model the end-effects and dynamics of spatial genome organisation

To foster optimal collaboration between groups, the following types of projects are explicitly excluded:

  • studies in which spatial chromatin folding is not the main focus
  • work on prokaryotic organisms
  • large‐scale sequencing efforts of multiple samples/time-points or large patient cohorts
  • descriptive studies of nuclear bodies and chromatin conformation in the absence of mechanistic insight
  • reanalysis of existing/public data without development of substantially novel analysis tools

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 15 February 2022. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 1 February 2022 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2202” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Prof. Dr. Argyris Papantonis
    Institute of Pathology
    University Medical Center
    Georg-August University of Göttingen
    Robert-Koch-Str. 40
    37075 Göttingen
    phone +49 551 39 65734

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact: