Information for Researchers, No. 20 | March 19, 2020

Call for Multidisciplinary Research into Epidemics and Pandemics in Response to the Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2

The effects of the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak have shown that epidemics and pandemics cannot be managed on a solely national level; instead, the global framework needs to be taken into account. To be better prepared for the diverse aspects of global waves of infection, it is essential to support wide-ranging research across different disciplines. In addition to investigating the current pandemic, it is important to identify fundamental research questions that produce generalizable scientific findings.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is therefore issuing a call for a multidisciplinary funding initiative. Funding is available for projects addressing the prevention, early detection, containment and investigation of the causes, impacts and management of epidemics and pandemics, taking the example of SARS-CoV-2 and other microorganisms and viruses that are pathogenic to humans.

This includes, for example, the investigation of

  • the challenges and effects of an epidemic or pandemic and of measures taken for healthcare systems;
  • psychological, social and cultural factors in the emergence, spread and treatment of epidemics and pandemics and the legal and ethical implications;
  • the impacts on global and regional economic development, production and value creation chains, logistics, transport and communication;
  • fundamental biological and medical aspects of a pathogen and the associated symptoms, as well as therapeutic methods or preventive measures in combination with one or more of the above topic areas.

The call is primarily aimed at multidisciplinary research projects. Proposals will also be considered for projects designed to gather and record basic data on the current epidemic and current countermeasures, which can serve as the basis for future retrospective analyses. Projects involving the simulation of the spread and consequences of pandemics and the effectiveness of interventions may also be submitted.

Type of Funding

Funding is available for individual or joint proposals in the form of individual research grants or proposal packages. To achieve a project’s objectives, all funding modules listed in the Guidelines for the Research Grants Programme (DFG form 50.01) can be requested.

The DFG will support scientific dialogue and networking between grant recipients during the course of the projects.


Researchers who would like to submit an individual proposal, a joint proposal or a proposal package are requested to contact the DFG Head Office as early as possible for advice. Proposals will be reviewed on a comparative basis and with the participation of an international group of reviewers in accordance with the DFG's standard review processes. To enable the DFG to plan the review process, applicants must submit letters of intent outlining the research project (max. 200 words) and listing the names of all applicants. Letters of intent must be sent as a PDF document by 1 July 2020 to . The deadline for submitting proposals is 1 September 2020. Proposals, curricula vitae and documents supporting a proposal must be in English and submitted via the elan portal under "Ausschreibung-Coronavirus". Detailed information on proposal submission can be found in the Proposal Preparation Instructions - Project Proposals (DFG form 54.01).

Researchers based at universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university research institutions and healthcare facilities are equally eligible to submit proposals. The general requirements relating to the duty to cooperate apply (DFG form 55.01).

Applicants should aim to cooperate with international researchers. The costs associated with international cooperation can be requested as part of the project in line with the rules applicable to each country.

Notes on Other Funding Programmes

Preparation for research projects can be supported by a range of measures such as roundtable discussions, scientific networks and funding to support the initiation of international collaboration.

For current groups such as Research Units, Research Training Groups and Collaborative Research Centres that thematically fit this call, it is possible to submit a supplemental or additional proposal.

Planned long-term projects of an infrastructural nature at the interface of social and health sciences can use the funding programme Long-Term Projects in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

For these funding opportunities, the regular proposal process applies. Please direct any enquiries to the responsible contact person at the DFG Head Office.

Researchers who are concerned exclusively with the biology of a pathogen, its manner of transmission and the development of drugs and other therapeutic methods are also expressly requested to submit their projects within normal DFG programmes.

Further Information

DFG forms 50.01 and 54.01 with information on the research grant funding programme and the submission of proposals:

Information on the duty to cooperate:

Information on supplementary proposals for Collaborative Research Centres (DFG form 60.011, section C):

Information on supplemental proposals for Research Training Groups (DFG form 54.05, section IV):

Questions about the call can be directed to the following contact persons:

  • Dr.-Ing. Wieland Biedermann, 
    Engineering Sciences 1, 
    Tel. +49 228 885-2023,
  • Dr. Julia Engel, 
    Humanities and Social Sciences 2: Social and Behavioural Sciences,
    Tel. +49 228 885-2972, 
  • Dr. Katja S. Grossmann, 
    Life Sciences 3: Medicine, 
    Tel. +49 228 885-2565,
  • Dr. Katharina Hartmann, 
    Life Sciences 2: Microbiology, Immunology, Neurosciences,
    Tel. +49 228 885-2342, 

Information on funding principles and funding opportunities with an international component:

International projects involving researchers based in Germany, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland can be requested within this call in accordance with the rules outlined in the lead agency agreements with the FNR, FWF and SNF, provided that the majority of funds are requested for project work in Germany. For all other cases, the regular lead agency process applies.

Administrative enquiries on the lead agency arrangement can be addressed to the following DFG staff:

Questions about other funding programmes can be directed to the relevant contact person at the DFG Head Office: