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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 51 | 27. Juli 2017
Priority Programme “Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications” (SPP 1784)

In 2014, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established a Priority Programme entitled “Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications” (SPP 1784). The Priority Programme is designed to run for six years; the present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Natural covalent nucleic acid modifications form a new hidden layer of information in the genetic code beyond the classical four letter alphabet. The Priority Programme was established to unravel this code. A network of researchers with backgrounds in chemical biology, structural biology, enzymology and bioinformatics will gain deeper insight into where, how and why native nucleic acid modifications occur and how they influence cellular processes. Prospective participants will address current challenges in detection, localisation, recognition, and function of naturally occurring modifications in RNA and DNA. Modifications as defined in the programme, are specifically introduced to the nucleic acid by cognate enzymes, and do not include chemical lesions, DNA or RNA damages inflicted by light, reactive oxygen species, chemicals, and the like.

Projects to be funded within the frame of the Priority Programme need to address scientific questions at the atomic resolution level, using approaches of chemical biology, biochemistry or structural biology in the following areas:

  • new concepts for detection of known modifications, or detection of new modifications
  • localisation of modifications in the genome, transcriptome, or inside the cell
  • target recognition and catalytic turnover of nucleic acids by modification enzymes, and recognition of modified nucleic acids by specific proteins
  • biological function and effect of modifications by specific recognition, changes in coding, or nucleic acid structure

Applications are invited either from single principle investigators, or as tandem grants by two groups, who join forces to tackle a biological problem by strongly interdisciplinary approaches. These may e.g. include one group with a chemical or structural biology background, and another group with background in biology or bioinformatics. Basic biological research, which solely relies on established techniques for high throughput mapping, e.g. by bisulfite sequencing, cannot be funded.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 29 November 2017. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 15 November 2017 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 1784” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. In addition to submitting your proposal via elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

The review colloquium for the Priority Programme will be held on 1–2 March 2018 in Mainz. The envisaged start of funding is July 2018.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Mark Helm,
    Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz,
    Fachbereich Chemie, Pharmazie und Geowissenschaften, Institut für Pharmazie und Biochemie,
    Staudingerweg 5,
    55128 Mainz,
    phone +49 6131 3925731,
    Link auf E-Mailmhelm@uni-mainz.de

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact:


This text is available at Interner Linkwww.dfg.de/foerderung/info_wissenschaft/2017/info_wissenschaft_17_51/.
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