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Information for Researchers No. 57 | 1 September 2020
Priority Programme “Much More Than Defence: the Multiple Functions and Facets of CRISPR-Cas” (SPP 2141)

In 2017, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Much More Than Defence: the Multiple Functions and Facets of CRISPR-Cas” (SPP 2141). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call now invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

The discovery of the prokaryotic immune system CRISPR-Cas was one of the most exciting breakthroughs in biology in the last twenty years. Initially identified as defence mechanism, we now know that defence is just one of many functions of this molecular machine. Thus, the prevailing view of CRISPR-Cas as a defence system is too narrow. Other important cellular processes are carried out by the CRISPR-Cas system, such as virulence regulation, DNA repair and the regulation of group behaviour, to name only a few. In some cases, CRISPR-Cas systems may even have completely lost their immune-related functions. At this time, we have barely begun to understand the full biological potential of this system. Thus far, the new CRISPR-Cas functions have primarily been discovered fortuitously and systematic approaches to detect roles beyond immunity are lacking.

The two major goals of this concerted Priority Programme are:

  • the identification and investigation of new CRISPR-Cas functions beyond viral defence using model representatives of archaea and bacteria
  • the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying these novel functions using state-of-the-art methods

The cooperation of researchers from different disciplines, such as microbiology, genetics, medical microbiology, biochemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, ecology, structural biology, molecular dynamics, single-molecule localisation microscopy and single-molecule biochemistry, will provide the framework for a successful Priority Programme.

The Priority Programme exclusively focuses on the functions of CRISPR-Cas systems in prokaryotes and excludes projects concerned with the application of the technology and with viral defence. To promote cooperation and synergies in the Priority Programme projects have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • The CRISPR-Cas systems have to be studied in a bacterial or archaeal organism.
  • The underlying molecular mechanisms are investigated.
  • Bioinformatics analyses are performed to classify CRISPR-Cas systems and to help elucidate the role and functions of the CRISPR-Cas systems.
  • Only new functions of the CRISPR-Cas systems that are beyond the viral defence activity are studied.
  • The cross-talk between CRISPR-Cas systems and cellular pathways is elucidated.
  • Projects covering “public understanding of science” are also considered. Applicants should have experience with the CRISPR-Cas system and projects have to deal exclusively with the CRISPR-Cas system.

Proposals must be submitted in English via the DFG’s electronic submission system “elan” by 3 March 2021.

Please be aware that all CVs need to be prepared in English as well. Further, compliance with DFG’s rules for publication lists (form 1.91) is expected.

If you are using the “elan” portal for the first time, please note that you need to register yourself and your institutional address before submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 17 February 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 within the next two working days. Take notice that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during the registration process.

Those applicants who have already an elan-account are asked to check their institutional data and update them if necessary prior preparing your electronic proposal. Registration requests and elan updates will be processed within the next two working days.

For new proposals: 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 – Selection of “SPP 2141/2 – CRISPR-Cas”.

For renewal proposals: Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal. Please note that you need to select your previous project first from the proposal overview in order to get access to submit a renewal proposal. Only then the already existing project data (e.g. title, duration) are preset, but can be changed if necessary.

The aforementioned SPP selection does not apply because your project is already linked to the SPP.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). For your proposal it is mandatory to use the current project description (form 53.01). 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 Priority Programme coordinator.

Up to now, it is planned, that all submitted proposals will be evaluated by a review panel in the course of a colloquium with oral project presentations which is anticipated to take place in Bonn on the 17 and 18 June 2021. All principal investigators will receive formal invitations in due course.

The envisaged start of funding is November 2021.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

Proposal guidelines, preparation instructions, the DFG rules for publication lists and the current project description for your proposal are outlined in the DFG forms 50.05, 54.01, 1.91 and 53.01, which can be found either in elan or on the DFG’s website at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professorin Dr. Anita Marchfelder
    Universität Ulm
    Fakultät für Naturwissenschaften
    Institut für Molekulare Botanik
    Albert-Einstein-Allee 11
    89081 Ulm
    phone +49 731 50-22658
    Link auf E-Mailanita.marchfelder@uni-ulm.de

Further instructions on submitting a proposal are supplied by the DFG:

Note:

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