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Long-term solutions needed for key technology in life science disciplines / Initially, a further 51 projects will be funded in the fourth round of calls for proposals
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has arrived at a positive interim assessment of its high-throughput sequencing funding initiative (Next Generation Sequencing, NGS) and has decided to support its further development: after the initiative ends in 2023 funding opportunities for projects with high sequencing requirements will continue to be offered and integrated in the DFG’s established funding portfolio. The DFG sees high-throughput sequencing – a technology for determining the nucleotide sequence in a DNA molecule – as a key technology that is crucial to a wide range of life science disciplines. According to experts, its widespread availability and permanent funding is capable of making a key contribution to Germany’s competitiveness in research.
“Our funding initiative for high-throughput sequencing has provided a key impetus at the right time and made the technology accessible to academics at all research institutions in Germany, while at the same time establishing the necessary infrastructure at universities,” says Professor Dr. Axel Brakhage, DFG Vice President and Chairman of the Permanent Senate Commission on Key Questions of Genetic Research. “We regard it as particularly successful that we were able to combine infrastructure and project funding in an integrative approach. In this way it was possible to ensure close dovetailing between the sequencing centres – as providers of these important technologies – and the project managers.”
In what is now the fourth round of calls for proposals for the initiative, the DFG is funding a further 51 projects with a total of almost €14 million for sequencing costs. This means that the DFG has approved a total of €47 million to date to cover sequencing costs in just under 200 projects under the NGS funding initiative. The funding has made it possible to tackle projects on highly relevant issues in all areas of life science research, such as identifying coronavirus variants, general monitoring and prediction of pathogens, evolutionary oncology and determining “functional units” in biodiversity.
The fifth round of calls for proposals is currently underway, after which the funding initiative will come to an end. Funding provided for the four NGS centres of excellence themselves will amount to approximately €24 million by the end of the funding initiative. As a result, the total volume of funding awarded under the initiative, including funding for research projects, will end up at over €80 million.
“By establishing four NGS centres of excellence and providing sequencing funds at the same time, we have been able to provide important start-up support since 2018. In this way, the DFG has responded to the urgent need for action in the field of high-throughput sequencing, in particular at universities. The DFG is not able to manage the long-term financing of a sequencing infrastructure in Germany on its own, however. Here we must work together with federal and state governments to develop lasting solutions for this key technology in the life sciences. This could also create synergies with other networks such as the National Research Data Infrastructure,” emphasises DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker.
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