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Information for Researchers No. 23 | 13 May 2016
Priority Programme „Computational Connectomics” (SPP 2041)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established a new Priority Programme entitled “Computational Connectomics” (SPP 2041). The programme will run for an initial period of three years and can be extended for three more years.

The field of connectomics aims to comprehensively describe the physical and functional coupling among the neural elements of the brain. Understanding brain networks across different scales is an important step towards understanding brain function. However, further progress will hinge on a close interplay of experiment, theory, and computational analysis. Connectomics data sets will be huge, representing prototypical “big data” that cannot be easily visualised and intuitively grasped by the human brain. These data sets will be highly structured and far from random, however. The goal of the Priority Programme is to uncover this structure, understand the principles governing the organisation of the connectome, and understand how it forms through development and learning, how it gives rise to normal function, how it changes when we age or acquire a disease, and how such changes affect its function.

Along these lines, we invite research proposals to facilitate the automated reconstruction of connectivity from different types of data sets and
support the curation and open-access distribution of large-scale connectomics data sets (Theme A), undertake systematic analyses of complex connectivity networks (Theme B), develop theories and models of their structure and development and explain how this structure gives rise to neural activity and cognitive functions (Theme C). Each project should take the form of a collaboration between two or more investigators with complementary expertise. Projects that combine at least two of the above research themes are particularly welcome.

We encourage applications for projects which: 1) study brain connectivity in different species from microscopic to macroscopic levels with the goal of obtaining comprehensive connectivity maps, 2) have a clear and innovative computational component, 3) have a clear plan for sharing data, analysis software and models, 4) study the dynamics of brain connectivity across different time scales, 5) study changes in brain connectivity during development and learning, 6) foster close interaction of experimental and theoretical research.

We discourage applications for projects which: 1) are not focussed on the topic of connectomics as described above, 2) do not involve multiple PIs with complementary backgrounds and expertise, 3) aim mostly at data collection without an innovative data analysis or modelling component, 4) have no clear plan for sharing any data, analysis software, and models, 5) focus on functional connectivity without advancing our understanding of the underlying structural connectivity, 6) focus on altered connectivity in knock-out animals.

Applications for the first three-year funding period should be written in English and submitted by 31 August 2016 via the electronic elan system, choosing “Schwerpunktprogramm” and selecting “SPP 2041 – Computational Connectomics” 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).

If you are using the elan system for the first time, please note that you need to register yourself and your institutional addresses before being able to submit a proposal. Also, if you are planning to move to a different institution (e.g. with a Temporary Position for Principal Investigators) you need to register the new institutional address beforehand. Please make sure that all applicants of your project start their registration at the latest two weeks before the submission deadline. The registration requests are handled manually by DFG staff.

Further information

Please submit the proposal via the electronic system elan:

The DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be found at:

Contact person for questions related to the Priority Programme:

Contact person for questions related to the application or review process:

Contact person for administrative matters: