Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 58 | 1. Juli 2024

Priority Programme “Local and Peripheral Drivers of Microglial Diversity and Function” (SPP 2395)

In 2022, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Local and Peripheral Drivers of Microglial Diversity and Function” (SPP 2395). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Microglia, the resident macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS), play a crucial role in maintaining CNS homeostasis and mounting immune responses during pathological events. Over the past two decades, the heterogeneity of microglia has been extensively studied, leading to several proposed concepts. Microglia exhibit sexually dimorphic profiles and regional variability in the brain throughout their lifespan under both physiological and pathological conditions. Future research will move beyond the simple dichotomy of homeostatic and disease-associated microglia to explore the cellular communication and spatiotemporal localisation of microglia in the CNS.

Several key aspects of microglial diversity, particularly those driven by local and peripheral cues and their roles in the human CNS, remain largely unexplored. This programme aims to address the following fundamental questions:

  1. Which local cues determine the microglial state?
  2. How does the immune status (e.g. viral infections or CNS autoimmunity) modulate the microglial state, function and phenotype?
  3. Which findings from pre-clinical animal models of CNS disorders are reflected in human tissue and how can these models be improved to enhance translatability and therapeutic targeting of microglia?

To address these questions, a variety of technologies and experimental approaches will be utilised, including:

  • development and application of novel (humanised) disease-mimicking animal models
  • use of human post-mortem tissue
  • iPSC-derived human microglia
  • single-cell transcriptomic and proteomic technologies
  • cutting-edge in vivo imaging methods
  • big data analysis 
  • novel tools for visualising and manipulating microglia in vivo

Interdisciplinary teams with expertise in these areas, interacting with other groups within this Priority Programme, will create a synergistic platform for successful basic and translational research. The inclusion of researchers in early career phases is strongly encouraged.

Proposals submitted to this call should focus on studying the local and peripheral drivers of microglial diversity and function to better understand cellular and environmental communication. Additionally, proposals should meet at least one of the following inclusion criteria:

  • combine experimental animal models of CNS disorders with human material or data
  • include sexual dimorphism, ageing and development as research variables where applicable
  • develop and apply innovative methods, such as state-of-the-art imaging or opto-/chemogenetic techniques

As this priority programme emphasises projects that investigate microglia in vivo, proposals focusing solely on in vitro work will not be considered. All applicants must adhere to data management standards and share their data within the mutual database.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 1 October 2024. 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 12 September 2024 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 wish 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 2395” 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 (DFG form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (DFG form 54.01). These forms can either be down-loaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. 

All eligible proposals will be evaluated in a review meeting, which is projected to take place in February 2025. All principal investigators will receive formal information about the review process in due course.

The DFG strongly welcomes proposals from researchers of all genders and sexual identities, from different ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological or social backgrounds, from different career stages, types of universities and research institutions, and with disabilities or chronic illness. With regard to the subject-specific focus of this call, the DFG encourages female researchers in particular to submit proposals.

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:

  • PD Dr. Susanne A. Wolf, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Department of Experimental Ophthalmology, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, phone +49 (30) 450 540544,  

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact: 

Administrative contact: