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Press Release No. 53 | 7 December 2020
First Decisions on COVID-19 Focus Funding

33 projects on particularly urgent questions of immunity, host susceptibility and pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection selected / Funding of €3.6 million for a maximum of one year

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has made its first decisions in the new COVID-19 Focus Funding instrument. These decisions will enable 33 projects to immediately begin research on immunity, host susceptibility and pathomechanisms of infection with SARS-CoV-2. A total of €3.6 million will be provided for a maximum of one year, including the standard programme allowance for indirect project costs.

COVID-19 Focus Funding was set up by the DFG in August of this year in the Research Grants Programme to enable researchers to address particularly urgent questions on the coronavirus pandemic that need short-term answers. It follows a simplified procedure in which the project description of the funding proposal is limited to a maximum of five pages. Applicants must have a sound scientific track record and established research infrastructures with a corresponding repertoire of research methods and material available. Researchers based at universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university research institutions and healthcare facilities are equally eligible to submit proposals, so that all areas of research are covered.

As a new funding instrument, Focus Funding is initiated in line with the work of the Interdisciplinary Commission for Pandemic Research, which was established by the DFG in June of this year. Focus Funding is intended to support projects in subject areas where the Commission for Pandemic Research identifies a special need for research. It publishes specific calls in this respect, which are directed at all relevant disciplines. The first such call on “Immunity, Host Susceptibility and Pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Infection”, under which the current funding decisions were made, was published in August 2020. This call resulted in the DFG receiving a total of 89 funding proposals within a month.

The 33 projects that have now been approved address topics such as questions of immune response and the mechanisms of different immune cell populations against SARS-CoV-2, which they are investigating in model systems and with patient material. There are also investigations into molecular pathomechanisms at the general cellular level and in various organ systems such as the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, liver and nervous system. Further topics include analysing the pathogenicity of the virus, conducting evolution analyses and influencing the pathogenicity of the virus.

“Our Focus Funding is a simplified, quick-response proposal procedure that enables the research communities to develop rapid research contributions on particularly topical issues in relation to analysing and overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. The past weeks and months have revealed a tremendous need to produce top-quality findings at a rapid pace. The projects we have just approved will make a significant contribution to this,” said DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker on the occasion of the initial funding decisions.

This concludes the first call, but preparations are currently under way for three further calls on COVID-19 Focus Funding relating to topics that the Commission for Pandemic Research has identified as particularly urgent. The next calls are expected to be published before the end of this year.

Further Information

Media contact:

Programme contact at the DFG Head Office:

A lis of projects selected under the first call “Immunity, Host Susceptibility and Pathomechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Infection” is available on the DFG website at:

Further information on this call can be found as “Information for Researchers” under:

General information on COVID-19 Focus Funding in the Research Grants Programme is available at: