The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is funding more than 50 new interdisciplinary projects to carry out research into epidemics and pandemics. This is the outcome of a broad interdisciplinary call for proposals launched by Germany's largest research funding organisation and central self-governing body for research following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. While the first projects were able to start work at the beginning of this year, the final funding decisions have now been made under this call for proposals, with funding of €31.5 million going to a total of 51 projects.
The DFG responded to the COVID-19 outbreak after just a few weeks at the end of March 2020 with the largest call to date for new research projects relating to epidemics and pandemics. The aim was to promote a broad spectrum of research projects, ranging from the medical and biological foundations including preventive and therapeutic measures to questions of economics, logistics and communication, as well as the social, psychological, cultural, legal and ethical implications that are currently the subject of intense debate. The DFG's call attracted some 280 funding proposals by 1 September 2020.
The funded projects cover a wide spectrum of topics and disciplinary perspectives (see below for the link to the list of projects). These range from modelling the occurrence of infections to healthcare under pandemic conditions and global causes such as land use. A whole series of projects focus on the impact of COVID-19 on research itself and the research system, or look at the role of science and the humanities and science communication in times of crisis.
The work of the funded projects will be supported by the interdisciplinary DFG Commission for Pandemic Research, which was likewise established in spring 2020. The aim of this body is also to further strengthen the role of basic research in the field and identify new, urgently required areas of research. In recent months, the DFG has announced seven so-called Focus Funding calls to address these latter areas - a new funding format that has provided resources for at least 50 additional new research projects to date.