Information for Researchers, No. 47 | May 26, 2021

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

In spring 2021, 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 first three-year funding period.

Microglia, the resident macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS), are involved in the steady-state regulation of the CNS and in the immune response during any pathological perturbation. Heterogeneity of microglia has been addressed over the past 20 years and several concepts have been proposed. Microglia show sexual dimorphic profiles and vary in different brain regions over the course of their lifespan under physiological and pathological conditions. In the coming years the research will advance beyond a simple concept of homeostatic and disease-associated microglia and will consider the cellular communication and spatiotemporal localisation of microglia in the CNS. Several aspects of local and peripheral cues that drive microglial heterogeneity especially in the human CNS have remained largely unexplored. Thus, the programme aims to address the following fundamental questions:

  1. Which local cues determine the microglia state?
  2. How does the immune status (e.g. viral infections) modulate the microglia state, function and phenotype?
  3. Which findings regarding microglia from pre-clinical animal models are reflected in human tissue and disease and how can pre-clinical animal models be improved?

Several technologies and experimental approaches will be suitable to address these questions. Examples include the development and application of novel (humanised) animal models, human post-mortem tissue, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC-)derived human microglia, single-cell transcriptomic and proteomic technologies, cutting-edge in vivo imaging methods, analysis of big data and in silico modelling, and novel tools to visualise and manipulate microglia in vivo.

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 early-career researchers is strongly encouraged.

Proposals submitted to this call shall study local and peripheral drivers of microglial diversity and function to better understand cellular or environmental communication.

In addition, proposals have to address at least one of the following inclusion criteria:

• Combine experimental animal approaches and human material or data
• Include sexual dimorphism as a research variable where applicable
• Develop and apply innovative methods such as in silico or mathematical modelling, state-of-the-art imaging or opto-/chemogenetic techniques

As this Priority Programme aims at putting emphasis on projects that investigate microglia in vivo, proposals with pure in vitro work will not be considered.

All applicants have to adhere to the data management standards and share data in the mutual database.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 4 October 2021. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. To enter a new project within the existing Priority Programme, go to Proposal Submission – New Project/Draft Proposal – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2395” from the current list of calls.

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 through elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

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 20 September 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.

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:

  • Dr. Susanne Wolf
    Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
    Campus Virchow-Klinikum
    Klinik für Augenheilkunde
    Augustenburger Platz 1
    13353 Berlin 
    phone +49 30 450 554054

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact: