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Information for Researchers No. 70 | 2 November 2016
Priority Programme “Functional Specialisations of Neuroglia as Critical Determinants of Brain Activity” (SPP 1757)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established in 2014 the Priority Programme “Functional Specialisations of Neuroglia as Critical Determinants of Brain Activity” (SPP 1757). The programme is designed to run for six years. Applications are now invited for the second three-year funding period of this Priority Programme.

The human brain is an extraordinary complex structure, consisting of about 80 billion neurons, connected by numerous synapses, and of an equal number of neuroglial cells. The latter, subdivided into astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, radial glia and NG2 cells, execute essential brain functions among them metabolic support, ion homeostasis and synaptic modulation. In contrast to neurons, each class of macroglia has been usually considered a largely homogeneous cell population. Recent research, however, has provided strong evidence that this picture is entirely wrong. Macroglial cells in fact consist of various subpopulations, each equipped with a distinct repertoire of molecules and proteins such as ion channels, receptors, transporters and signalling elements. Thus, macroglial cells have developed functional specialisations to meet the specific requirements of distinct circuits, which might be critical determinants of brain activity.

The primary goal of the Priority Programme is to understand glial cell specialisation and to elucidate its role in the mammalian brain. Specifically, the following questions shall be addressed:

  • What defines functional heterogeneity of macroglial cells and where does it occur?
  • What are the mechanisms that generate heterogeneity?
  • What are the consequences of glial heterogeneity for brain function?

To foster optimal synergy and collaboration between groups, the following topics are explicitly excluded: glial cells of the peripheral nervous system, microglia, merely descriptive comparisons of different macroglial cell types, pathology of CNS diseases, injury, degeneration and regeneration processes, projects based purely on cell culture.

Special emphasis will be given to the acquisition and analysis of cell-specific gene profiling data as well as collaborative experimental animal models. Each applicant will receive support by coordinating teams in (1) cell physiology, (2) development and (3) methodology to identify synergisms and optimise interactions between individual research projects. In addition, the Priority Programme will provide a setting to enable active support for early career scientists and to promote gender equality.

Applications for the second three-year funding period should be written in English. Deadline for proposal submission is 31 January 2017. Proposals must be submitted via the DFG’s electronic submission system “elan”, selecting “SPP 1757”. In addition to submitting your proposal to the DFG, please send an electronic version (pdf format) to the Priority Programme’s 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.

The envisaged start of the second funding period is July 2017.

Further Informations

For further scientific information please refer to the Priority Programme’s website:

The proposals need to follow the guidelines for Priority Programmes (DFG-Vordruck 50.05) and should be prepared according to the Proposal Preparation Instructions (DFG-Vordruck 54.01). These forms can be found here:

Please submit the proposal via the electronic system elan:

Contact persons for questions related to the Priority Programme are the scientific coordinators:

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

Contact person for administrative matters: