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Clinical Research Units

Clinical Research Units provide outstanding researchers the opportunity to carry out close, medium-term cooperation in a special research project from the field of disease or patient-oriented clinical research. This cooperation must be expected to produce findings which could not have been achieved with the support available under the Individual Grants Programme or Priority Programme.

Clinical research units are a way of supporting outstanding researchers in mid-term close collaboration on a particular research task, if it is to be expected that collaboration supported in this way will lead to results that cannot be reached by means of an individual grant.

One of the aims of the funding of clinical research units is to improve clinical research by creating and strengthening research-oriented structures in university hospitals, supporting performance-oriented distribution of resources, establishing or reinforcing training structures, supporting early career researchers, advancing the scientific profiling of individual medical faculties and intensifying cooperation between clinicians and basic researchers.

Information about the Programme


To fund research associations in disease- or patient-oriented (translational) clinical research and the long-term implementation of scientific working groups in clinical institutions

Eligibility Requirements

Outstanding researchers

Proposal Requirements

Scientific quality and originality of the research project at an international level

Clinical problems, incorporation of clinical material and potentially of clinical pilot studies with a topical focus on translational research with a patient-oriented approach and the investigation of disease mechanisms

Clear backing by the medical school of the establishment and support of the Clinical Research Unit and willingness to bear a share of the cost of financing it

Boost the development of the scientific profile of the university/medical school

Create and boost research-oriented structures in hospitals

Intensify cooperation between scientists engaged in basic research and clinicians.

Establish and/or strengthen training structures in clinical research.

Type and Extent of Funding

Clinical Research Units can include the following funding modules, some of which are required:

  • Scientific (coordinated) projects
  • The establishment of a Research Chair, the holder of which assumes the scientific and organisational leadership of the Clinical Research Unit
  • Fixed-term leave/rotational positions (“gerok” positions)
  • Promoting early career researchers
  • Independent junior research groups in accordance with the terms of the Emmy Noether Programme
  • Flexible funding to compensate for family leave
  • Other staff positions
  • Fellowship programme
  • Transfer projects
  • Coordination funding and positions

Funding Duration

In the course of the further development of DFG funding opportunities, the DFG Joint Committee decided during the Annual Meeting in July 2018 that Clinical Research Groups can be funded up to eight years, in fact in two
four-year periods.

This new arrangement applies to draft proposals that are submitted after
1 October 2018.

For drafts and proposals received before 1 October 2018:

As a rule, up to six years (under certain circumstance up to eight years)

For draft proposals received after 1 October 2018:

As a rule, up to eight years.

Forms and Guidelines

Proposal Deadlines

New proposals: no submission deadline, draft proposals may be submitted at any time. The submission of a revised draft application is possible once.

Decisions on first-time funding for Research Units are made by the DFG's Senate four times per year.

Renewal proposals: six months before the approved funds are exhausted.