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Press Release No. 4 | 25 March 2022
DFG Extends Mandate for Commission for Pandemic Research

DFG President Katja Becker: “Focus on longer-term issues and challenges" / Monitoring indicates that COVID-19 Focus Funding has been an effective instrument

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has extended the mandate of the interdisciplinary Commission for Pandemic Research until the end of 2023. Established in June 2020, the Commission was initially planned to last for two years, but is now being extended in view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Its tasks include surveying the international pandemic research landscape, identifying research gaps and supporting evidence-based research in all pandemic-related subjects. Unlike many other expert panels on the coronavirus pandemic, the Commission is independent of any direct political advisory function.

“The Commission has addressed the highly dynamic pandemic situation on an ongoing basis. In this way, it was able to identify the most pressing issues that needed scientific support. Dialogue among Commission members was particularly interdisciplinary in character, thereby enabling a swift response to pandemic developments,” said DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker. “Now we want to go on to address the longer-term issues and challenges. After all, the pandemic has far-reaching implications beyond the immediate consequences for health – areas in which research will be required for a long time to come. In addition, we aim to address issues of better pandemic preparedness and resilience.”

The Commission has met in a total of 18 sessions to date, and there have also been numerous meetings of subordinate working groups. The commission has made several public statements: one example is the dossier “Know more – make more informed decisions”, which provides information on vaccination, and a position paper in the field of aerosol research as well as statements on the need for action on health research data and for research into the topic of Long COVID.

In addition, the Commission organised the virtual international networking conference “Preparedness for Future Pandemics from a Global Perspective” in November 2021. The topics addressed here – such as causes and consequences of the pandemic, preparedness and the global dimension of the pandemic – are now to be pursued further as the Commission’s mandate is extended further.

Another key instrument to emerge from the work done by the Commission for Pandemic Research was the COVID-19 Focus Funding programme that was specially created in 2020 . Under this programme, a total of seven calls for proposals were issued to address particularly urgent issues that needed to be dealt with at short notice in all relevant disciplines. The programme offers a streamlined and accelerated funding opportunity to meet the current need for the rapid generation of knowledge on COVID-19 – though without compromising on the quality of proposals, proposal processing and the decision-making process.

The DFG has assessed the benefits of this new funding instrument based on accompanying monitoring, and initial findings have now been published in an interim report: Focus Funding has met with great demand among applicants at all career levels. They have used it primarily as a source of start-up funding for larger follow-up projects but also to advance ongoing projects. The Focus Funding programme also attracted more proposals for joint projects as compared to the DFG’s regular individual project funding. Applicants and reviewers alike were largely satisfied with the time and overall formal conditions provided for the calls for proposals. The aim when setting up the programme to provide lean and accelerated funding was achieved by means of a reduced scope of proposals and a significantly shortened processing period. The average time lapse between receipt of a proposal and the final decision was just under three months.

Further Information

Media contact:

For details of the publications, activities and members of the Commission for Pandemic Research, see:

For a condensed overview of the Commission’s work, see also:

Programme contact at the DFG Head Office:

Commission for Pandemic Research:

  • Dr. Anne Brüggemann
    Head of Humanities and Social Sciences 2: Social and Behavioural Sciences
    Tel. +49 228 885-2213
    anne.brueggemann@dfg.de

COVID-19 Focus Funding:

  • Dr. Anna Christa
    Equal Opportunities, Research Integrity and Cross-Programme Development
    Tel. +49 228 885-3182
    anna.christa@dfg.de