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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 41 | 7. Juli 2017
Priority Programme “Much more than Defence: the Multiple Functions and Facets of CRISPR-Cas“ (SPP 2141)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has announced the establishment of the Priority Programme “Much more than Defence: the Multiple Functions and Facets of CRISPR-Cas” (SPP 2141). The Priority Programme is designed to run for six years. The DFG invites with this call proposals for the first three-year funding period.

One of the most exciting breakthroughs in biology in the past decade has been the discovery of the CRISPR-Cas system. Initially identified as a prokaryotic defence mechanism, we now know that defence is just one of many functions of this molecular machine. Thus, the prevailing view of CRISPR-Cas as a defence system is too narrow. Other important cellular processes are carried out by the CRISPR-Cas system, such as virulence regulation, DNA repair and the regulation of group behaviour, to name only a few. In some cases, CRISPR-Cas systems may even have completely lost their immune-related functions. At this time, we have barely begun to understand the full biological potential of this system. Thus far, the new CRISPR-Cas functions have primarily been discovered fortuitously and systematic approaches to detect roles beyond immunity are lacking.

The two major goals of this concerted Priority Programme are:

  • The identification and investigation of new CRISPR-Cas functions beyond viral defence using model representatives of archaea and bacteria.
  • The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying these novel functions using state-of-the-art methods.

The cooperation of researchers from different disciplines, such as microbiology, genetics, medical microbiology, biochemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, ecology, structural biology, molecular dynamics, single-molecule localisation microscopy and single-molecule biochemistry, will provide the framework for a successful programme.

The Priority Programme exclusively focusses on the functions of CRISPR-Cas systems in prokaryotes and excludes projects concerned with the application of the technology and with viral defence. To promote cooperation and synergies in the Priority Programme projects have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • The CRISPR-Cas systems have to be studied in a bacterial or archaeal organism.
  • The underlying molecular mechanisms are investigated.
  • Bioinformatics analyses are performed to classify CRISPR-Cas systems and to help elucidate the role and functions of the CRISPR-Cas systems.
  • Only new functions of the CRISPR-Cas systems that are beyond the viral defence activity are studied.
  • The cross-talk between CRISPR-Cas systems and cellular pathways is elucidated.
  • Projects covering “public understanding of science” or ethical aspects are also considered. Applicants should have experience with the CRISPR-Cas system and projects have to deal with the CRISPR-Cas system.

Proposals must be submitted in English via the DFG’s electronic submission system “elan” selecting “SPP 2141”. Please be aware that the descriptions of the projects and all CVs need to be prepared in English. Further, compliance with DFG’s rules for publication lists (form 1.91 – 03/16) is expected.

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. Registrations of all applicants (especially those in a joint research project) need to be finished by 5 December 2017 at the latest as all registration requests are handled manually by DFG staff.

Proposals must be submitted by the end of Friday, 15 December 2017 (exclusion deadline).

All submitted proposals will be evaluated by a review panel in the course of a colloquium with oral project presentations which is anticipated to take place in Bonn in March or April 2018.

All principal investigators will receive formal invitations in due course.

The envisaged start of funding is summer 2018.

Further information

The DFG’s electronic portal “elan” can be found at:

Proposal guidelines and preparation instructions are outlined in the forms 50.05 and 54.01, the rules for publication lists in form 1.91. The forms can be found on the DFG’s website at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the coordinator of the Priority Programme:

Further instructions on submitting a proposal are supplied by the DFG:

For scientific queries:

For administrative and/or technical queries:


This text is available at Interner Linkwww.dfg.de/foerderung/info_wissenschaft/2017/info_wissenschaft_17_41/. Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item.