Information for Researchers, No. 12 | February 8, 2021

Priority Programme “µBONE: Colonization and Interaction of Tumor Cells within the Bone Microenvironment” (SPP 2084)

In July 2018, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “µBONE: Colonization and Interaction of Tumor Cells within the Bone Microenvironment” (SPP 2084). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period beginning in January 2022.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Research in recent years increased knowledge of underlying mechanisms and led to medical progress in developing cancer therapies. However, metastatic disease represents a major challenge. Patients with bone metastases frequently display pathologic fractures, pain, and a poor life quality. Bone metastases may also be a new source for systemic relapse. Mechanisms such as the initial colonization of bone by tumor cells and interactions with the bone microenvironment resulting in the development of bone metastasis are poorly understood.

To address these important questions, the Priority Programme aims to generate new insights into the interactions of tumor cells within the bone microenvironment to identify novel therapeutic concepts for the treatment and/or prevention of bone metastases. The focus is on bone metastasis secondary to breast and prostate cancer as well as myeloma bone disease. Applications should combine bone and tumor biology expertise, clinical experience, modelling strategies and functional/high-resolution imaging in a synergistic fashion.

The formation of interdisciplinary teams that span this expertise and interact with other groups in this Priority Programme should create a synergetic platform for successful basic and translational research. Inclusion of clinician-scientists and early-career researchers is strongly encouraged.

Proposals submitted to this call should address at least one of the following fundamental aspects:

  • to explore novel mechanisms of breast and prostate cancer cell colonization into the bone
  • to define interactions of circulating and disseminated tumor cells with the bone microenvironment
  • to develop and validate novel tools for bone metastases research, including animal models, imaging technologies, and advanced in vitro techniques, including human organoid cultures
  • to explore markers for early diagnosis and specific targeting of bone metastases towards precision medicine

Not eligible for funding are proposals on primary bone tumors (e.g. osteosarcoma), leukemias as well as studies on primary tumor biology without bone interaction or on metabolic bone diseases without a tumor context.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 12 May 2021. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system, choosing “Schwerpunktprogramm” and selecting “SPP2084 – µBONE – Colonization and Interactions of Tumor Cells within the Bone Microenvironment” on the menu. The proposals need to follow the guidelines for Priority Programmes (DFG form 50.05) and should be prepared according to the Proposal Preparation Instructions (DFG form 54.01). Furthermore, please send an electronic version (pdf format) of the application to the coordinator (see below).

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 28 April 2021 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 2084” 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. In addition to submitting your proposal via elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

All proposals will be evaluated by a review panel, which is anticipated to take place in September 2021. All principal investigators will receive formal information about the review process in due course.

Further Information

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:

  • Professor Dr. Lorenz Hofbauer
    Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus Dresden
    Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik III
    Bereich Endokrinologie
    Diabetes und Knochenstoffwechselerkrankungen
    Fetscherstr. 74
    01307 Dresden
    phone +49 351 458-3173

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact: