Information for Researchers, No. 52 | August 10, 2020

COVID-19 Focus Funding: Immunity, Host Susceptibility and Pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Infection

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 first under COVID-19 Focus Funding, the DFG is inviting proposals on the topic “Immunity, Host Susceptibility and Pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Infection”.

The purpose of this call is to address urgent, unresolved questions on immune response, host susceptibility and the infection mechanisms and pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2. Projects must be hypothesis driven and evidence based. 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 model systems or patient samples required are available at the start of the project. It must also be clear from the proposal how the newly acquired knowledge will contribute to a better understanding of the infection process and thus the concrete management of the current crisis. 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 omics 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. 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 5 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: Immunität und Pathomechanismen” by 7 September 2020. 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 24 August 2020 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.

Further Information

Additional information on Focus Funding can be found at:

Focus Funding Forms and Guidelines:



Elan template:

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

Administrative questions can be directed to the following contact person:

  • Kim Marita Wind, 
    Life Sciences 2: Microbiology, Immunology, Neurosciences, 
    Tel. +49 228 885-3106,