Information for Researchers, No. 103 | December 16, 2020

COVID-19 Focus Funding: SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing Projects

With its COVID-19 Focus Funding, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has developed a new funding opportunity designed to enable scientists to address especially urgent research questions requiring rapid answers (cf. DFG Information for Researchers No. 51). The projects can be used as preparation for subsequent larger-scale projects.

In this call, the DFG is inviting proposals for SARS-CoV-2 sequencing projects.

Funding under this call is available for projects in the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection whose objectives can only be achieved with the use of sequencing technology. These virus and host-specific sequencings are intended to contribute towards a better understanding of infectiousness and the spread of the infection process as well as the genetic determinants of the immune response and host susceptibility, taking defined clinical patterns and vulnerable groups into consideration.

The focus is on quickly generating (sequencing) data, which are made publicly available. Projects must be hypothesis-driven, and applicants must explain why the investigations are necessary to help manage the current pandemic situation. To ensure that projects can get underway quickly, it must be clear in the proposal that the necessary methodological prerequisites are in place and any necessary model systems or sample materials are available at the start of the project. Applicants should also explain how the research results can lead to further research projects.

Projects should be clearly distinct from measures already in receipt of other funding. Purely evidence-free screening or genomics approaches and projects focusing on the pharmacological (further) development of a vaccine or active substance are not eligible for funding as part of this call.

Type of Funding

To submit research projects under this call, applicants should use the newly developed COVID-19 Focus Funding instrument, which takes the form of an individual research grant. Focus Funding seeks to enable scientific communities to pursue, in a rapid and simplified process, research on current questions in response to the ongoing need for rapid knowledge of the highest quality as a contribution to analysing and overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.

Individual projects limited to the topic of the call can be supported through Focus Funding for a maximum period of 12 months. The amount is limited to the funding for staff and direct project costs in the basic module. Sequencing costs must be applied for as standard direct project costs. A maximum of €250,000 may be requested per project. Unlike proposals for individual projects, in Focus Funding, instrumentation over €10,000 and the modules for Mercator fellows, temporary positions for principal investigators, substitutes, temporary substitutes for clinicians, and project-specific workshops are not eligible for funding.

Support is available for projects of the highest scientific quality that break new scientific ground, promise to deliver a substantial contribution to knowledge on the specific research question of the call and are expected to be completed in a funding period of up to one year. The brevity of the proposal documents and the short funding duration of a maximum of only one year mean that the applicant must have a sound track record – demonstrated for example by past merits (publications, awards, etc.) – and that established research infrastructure and a corresponding repertoire of methods must be available. In all other respects, the normal quality criteria for DFG funding apply.


To apply for financial support through COVID-19 Focus Funding, applicants must submit a brief proposal containing a description of the scientific project of no more than five pages. Detailed information can be found in the proposal instructions and guidelines for COVID-19 Focus Funding. A proposal template is also available. Proposals, curricula vitae and other proposal documents should be in English and should be submitted via the elan portal under “Fokus COVID-19: SARS-CoV-2-Sequenzierprojekte” by 13 January 2021. When completing the proposal, please note the limitations on the funding duration and available funding modules, as these cannot be preset in the system.

If this is your first proposal to the DFG, please note that you must register in the elan portal before you can submit your proposal. Registration must be completed by 7 January 2021 to be able to submit your proposal under this call.

Researchers based at universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university research institutions and healthcare facilities are equally eligible to submit proposals. As an exception, this funding measure is exempted from the normal duty to cooperate in order to integrate all areas of science in Germany and enable rapid action. In all other respects, the normal eligibility requirements apply.

For sequencing exceeding €100,000, please contact the DFG-funded facilities in the Next Generation Sequencing Competence Network (NGS-CN).

Further Information

Detailed information on the coronavirus pandemic:

DFG Information for Researchers No. 51/2020 with additional information on Focus Funding can be found at:

Homepage of the NGS-CN:



Elan template:

Questions about the call can be directed to the following DFG programme contact:

  • Dr. Nikolai Raffler
    Life Sciences 1: Molecular and Organismic Biology
    Tel. +49 228 885-2441

Administrative questions can be directed to the following contact persons:

  • Jeanette Bosbach
    Life Sciences 1: Molecular and Organismic Biology
    Tel. +49 228 885-2731
  • Anja Müller
    Life Sciences 1: Molecular and Organismic Biology
    Tel. +49 228 885-2139