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Local and Peripheral Drivers of Microglial Diversity and Function (SPP 2395)
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
In spring 2021, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme "Local and Peripheral Drivers of Microglial Diversity and Function" (SPP 2395). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

Microglia, the resident macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS), are involved in the steady-state regulation of the CNS and in the immune response during any pathological perturbation. Heterogeneity of microglia has been addressed over the past 20 years and several concepts have been proposed. Microglia show sexual dimorphic profiles and vary in different brain regions over the course of their lifespan under physiological and pathological conditions. In the coming years the research will advance beyond a simple concept of homeostatic and disease-associated microglia and will consider the cellular communication and spatiotemporal localisation of microglia in the CNS. Several aspects of local and peripheral cues that drive microglial heterogeneity especially in the human CNS have remained largely unexplored. Thus, the programme aims to address the following fundamental questions:
1. Which local cues determine the microglia state?
2. How does the immune status (e.g. viral infections) modulate the microglia state, function and phenotype?
3. Which findings regarding microglia from pre-clinical animal models are reflected in human tissue and disease and how can pre-clinical animal models be improved?

Several technologies and experimental approaches will be suitable to address these questions. Examples include the development and application of novel (humanised) animal models, human post-mortem tissue, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC-)derived human microglia, single-cell transcriptomic and proteomic technologies, cutting-edge in vivo imaging methods, analysis of big data and in silico modelling, and novel tools to visualise and manipulate microglia in vivo.
The formation of interdisciplinary teams that span this expertise and interact with other groups in this Priority Programme should create a synergetic platform for successful basic and translational research. Inclusion of early-career researchers is strongly encouraged.

Proposals submitted to this call shall study local and peripheral drivers of microglial diversity and function to better understand cellular or environmental communication.

In addition, proposals have to address at least one of the following inclusion criteria:
o Combine experimental animal approaches and human material or data
o Include sexual dimorphism as a research variable where applicable
o Develop and apply innovative methods such as in silico or mathematical modelling, state-of-the-art imaging or opto-/chemogenetic techniques

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:
Dr. Susanne Wolf
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
Klinik für Augenheilkunde
Augustenburger Platz 1
13353 Berlin
phone +49 30 450 554054

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:
Programme contact:
Dr. Michael Müller, phone +49 228 885-2174, michael.mueller@dfg.de
Administrative contact:
Najat Arrkkaui, phone +49 228 885-2297, najat.arrkkaui@dfg.de

Further information: