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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 2 | 4. Januar 2017
Priority Programme „Emerging Roles of Non-coding RNAs in Nervous System Development, Plasticity and Disease” (SPP 1738)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established in 2014 the Priority Programme “Emerging Roles of Non-coding RNAs in Nervous System Development, Plasticity and Disease” (SPP1738). The programme is designed to run for six years. Applications are now invited for the second three-year funding period of this Priority Programme.

Intricate gene regulatory programmes orchestrate both the development of the nervous system as well as experience-dependent adaptations that underlie higher cognitive functions. Very recently, non-coding RNAs (ncRNA) were discovered as an extensive new layer of gene regulation in nerv- ous system function and disease.

The Priority Programme aims at identifying the functionally relevant ncRNA-target interactions, the underlying molecular mechanisms of regulation and the causal links to major neurological diseases. The focus will be on recently “emerging” non-coding RNAs with a documented gene regulatory function (miRNAs, endo-siRNA, piRNAs, lincRNAs). To address ncRNA function and regulation as a function of the spatiotemporal context, investigations will be performed at various stages of nervous system development to adulthood. Various complexity levels will be considered, from molecular machineries via individual cells to the circuit level. The inclusion of different model organisms in the programme will therefore allow to obtain insight into the conservation and evolution of ncRNA mechanisms. Mechanistic projects will focus on action of ncRNAs and its role on transcriptional and/or post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms in the developing and adult nervous system and the interplay of ncRNAs and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and its role in the regulation of ncRNA biogenesis and function. Individual projects should bridge several dis- ciplines, i.e. combining functional analysis with state-of-the-art molecular biology (e.g. massive parallel sequencing), biochemical (e.g. RBP-CLIP, quantitative proteomics) and/or bioinformat- ics/systems biology (e.g. pathway analysis, ncRNA target prediction) approaches. Therefore, col- laboration between participating groups of the programme is strongly encouraged.

To foster optimal collaboration between groups, the following projects are explicitly excluded: Projects addressing the function of well-studied, “classical” non-coding RNAs with a reported role in RNA metabolism (e.g. canonical splicing (snRNA), RNA modification (snoRNA), ribosome bio- genesis (rRNA) or constitutive translation (tRNA)); projects investigating the regulation of RNA metabolism and/or RBPs without a direct link to emerging non-coding RNAs (e.g. mRNA transport, stability, NMD); clinical investigations such as biomarker screening without a focus on basic research; purely descriptive studies (expression profiling, genetics, bioinformatics, pathway analysis) without an involvement of corresponding functional analysis.

Applications for the second three-year funding period should be written in English and submitted by 7 March 2017 via the electronic elan system, choosing “Schwerpunktprogramm” and selecting “SPP 1738 – Emerging Roles of Non-coding RNAs in Nervous System Development, Plasticity and Disease” on the menu. Furthermore please send an electronic version (pdf format) of the application to the coordinator Prof. André Fischer (see below).

If you are using the “elan” system for the first time, please note that you need to register yourself and your institutional addresses before being able to submit a proposal. Also, if you are planning to move to a different institution (e.g. with a temporary position for principal investigators) you need to register the new institutional address beforehand. Please make sure that all applicants of your project start their registration at the latest two weeks before the submission deadline. The registration requests are handled manually by DFG staff.

The envisioned start of the second funding period is July 2017.

Further Information

The proposals need to follow the guidelines for Priority Programmes (DFG form 50.05) and should be prepared according to the Proposal Preparation Instructions (DFG form 54.01). These forms can be found here:

Please submit the proposal via the electronic system elan:

Contact person for questions related to the Priority Programme:

Contact person for questions related to the application or review process:


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