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Information for Researchers No. 70 | 28 October 2019
Priority Programme “Towards an Implantable Lung” (SPP 2014)

In June 2017, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Towards an Implantable Lung” (SPP 2014). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

The malfunction of organs can only be permanently compensated by transplants or artificial organs. However, due to the lack of suitable donor organs only a small fraction of the functional failures can be treated by organ transplantation. Therefore, replacement using artificial organs is a promising treatment option for the foreseeable future. Currently, long-term artificial organ replacement is a reality for kidneys and hearts, while the development of an implantable artificial lung is just in the initial stages. Recent substantial advances have been made which facilitate short-term use of extracorporeal lung support systems. Nevertheless, technical limitations inherent in the current extracorporeal lung support systems do not allow for the long-term use needed for an implantable artificial lung. The primary limitations involve insufficient biocompatibility causing activation of inflammatory and coagulation cascades and the formation of clots in the extracorporeal system. Thrombus formation is worsened by suboptimal flow conditions, if an area of non-physiological blood flow occurs. Furthermore, deposition of fibrin and other proteins on the gas-exchange membranes reduces gas transfer and limits the long-term use of lung support systems. In addition, today´s short-term lung assist systems do not allow for individually adjustable gas transfer rates of O2 and CO2.

Therefore, the aim of this SPP is to overcome the limitations, which prevent long-term use and implantation of a lung assist system. In particular, the SPP aims to improve the biocompatibility of artificial surfaces, identify new strategies for anticoagulation regimes, optimise gas and blood flow based on individual needs, and design solutions for miniaturisation of lung assist systems. These strategies should be validated by standardised methods with new in vitro and in vivo models.

This SPP requires complementary, well-networked competencies in medicine, biology, engineering, and material science. The formation of interdisciplinary teams should create new synergies for the implementation and development of an artificial implantable lung. Therefore, each interdisciplinary project team should include the involvement of a clinical scientist. In addition, the projects are intended in particular to promote cross-location cooperation. We therefore welcome project ideas from various locations.

Proposals submitted to this call should address the following fundamental aspects:

  1. Design and testing of membrane and system surfaces with improved biocompatibility;
  2. Analysis and design of patient-tailored blood and gas flow;
  3. Identification of suitable anticoagulation regimes and the design of biomarkers;
  4. Analysis of the mechanisms and therapy of inflammatory processes in artificial lungs;
  5. Investigation of technical and surgical solutions for miniaturisation, structural integration and termination techniques of essential components for a lung assist system;
  6. In silico, in vitro, and in vivo validation of components and biocompatibility for lung assist systems;
  7. Influence of long-term use of lung assist systems on pathophysiology, based on extended extracorpeal use.

Not eligible for funding with SPP 2014 are proposals on clinical course and human application studies.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 12 February 2020. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system.

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 29 January 2020 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 2014/2-Towards an Implantable lung” 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.

The review colloquium for the Priority Programme will be held in the beginning of May 2020. The date and place will be communicated to the applicants after the submission of the proposals. The envisaged start of funding is late summer 2020. The duration of the projects should be 36 months, and cannot exceed this period.

Successful applicants and their team members are expected to collaborate, for example through the exchange of students/postdocs or through methodological and knowledge exchange. They are also expected to attend the annual assemblies, and to actively participate in Priority Programme workshops.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

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:

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact:

Note:

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