The Immunology Initiative is a trilateral funding measure by three funding bodies: the Academy of Finland (AF, www.aka.fi/eng), the German Research Foundation (DFG, www.dfg.de), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, www.nsfc.gov.cn).
The Immunology Initiative aims to bring together relevant and competitive researchers and research teams from China, Finland and Germany to design and carry out jointly organised research projects in the field of immunology. Funding within this initiative will be available for multilateral collaborative research projects consisting of researchers from at least two of the partner countries. Within these research consortia, each national funding organisation will fund as a general rule only those project components that are carried out within its own country. The collaborative research projects must involve active communication and cooperation between the participating researchers.
The collaborative projects selected to take part in the initiative will receive research funding for a period of up to three years.
The objectives of the initiative are:
- to promote high-quality, multi- and inter-disciplinary research projects in immunology in the participating countries,
- to stimulate mobility of researchers between the participating countries,
- to promote training of researchers,
- to accelerate the exchange of new scientific knowledge among researchers and between researchers and other interest groups.
Relevant research areas on the Immunology Initiative include:
- tumour immunity focussed on the dynamic interactions between tumour cells and immune cells, identification and application of new potential tumour antigens, the mechanisms by which an immune response to tumours might be generated and maintained, how tumour cells escape detection and destruction by the immune system, how the chronic inflammation might contribute to the pathogenesis, growth and metastasis of tumour, and how this knowledge can lead to new therapeutic targets and treatments for cancer,
- infection immunity focussed on the molecular basis of interactions between pathogens and the host, with special attention to organisms that cause important human infections, such as HIV, hepatitis viruses, influenza viruses, Mycobacterium tuberculosis etc; the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the recognition of pathogens and their components by immune receptors (PRR); the mechanism underlying the generation and regulation of antigen specific immune response and the immune memory in immunity to pathogens; the role of persistent infection in the development of immunosuppression and neurological disease, and mucosal immunity against pathogens,
- immune regulation and autoimmune diseases focussed on both the mechanism of immune regulation at a cellular level, such as the suppressive mechanisms of regulatory T cells, regulatory B cells and regulatory DC, the relative contributions of these mechanisms to their overall suppressive function, the identification of new subsets of immune cells (T, B, monocytes, macrophages, DC, NK cells, NKT cells, MDSC) with regulatory functions, and the mechanism of immune regulation at the level of intracellular signalling, as well as their relevance with autoimmune diseases.
Research projects are encouraged to include multi- and interdisciplinary approaches in a collaborative manner to create a maximal synergy between the members of the research teams.
The call for proposals for the Immunology Initiative is open to researchers based at universities, academic institutions and research centres in China, Finland and Germany. Funding is available for bilateral and trilateral collaborative research projects comprising researchers and/or research teams from at least two of the participating countries. Within a consortium the number of respective national research teams should be roughly balanced. Applicants are required to fulfil any national requirements for funding and follow the general regulations of their respective funding organisation. Applications that do not meet these requirements will not be considered.
Criteria for project selection
All proposals will be reviewed by an external, international peer review committee. Collaborative projects suitable for joint funding will be selected on the basis of this assessment.
The most important criteria applied in this selection process are the following:
- relevance of the project to the Immunology Initiative,
- scientific quality and innovativeness of the research project,
- feasibility of the research plan,
- cost-effectiveness of the budgetary plan,
- competence and expertise of the researchers / research teams,
- effective communication and cooperation between the researchers in each country and added value of the collaboration,
- mobility of researchers between the participating countries.
Funds may be used to cover salaries of postdoctoral fellows and doctoral students as well as for consumables and travel expenses for internal consortia meetings (at least one internal meeting per year) and scientific conferences. Within a collaborative project, researcher mobility between China, Finland and Germany is strongly encouraged (e.g. research visits for 3–6 months) and can be supported by funding travel expenses and housing costs.
In the case of mutual visit of scientists between China and a European partner country (Finland or Germany) the visiting scientist will cover international flights and the host will provide the local accommodation together with a daily maintenance allowance and domestic travel costs.
All requested cost items must be in accordance with the national administrative regulations, respectively.
Submission of project applications
All individual subprojects of any bilateral and trilateral collaborative project must submit a joint application to the respective national funding body according to the national rules. Any subproject application must include the “Specific Chinese-Finnish-German Application Form” (link to the form see under further information) and the joint proposal of the international collaborative project. The specific application form, joint proposal and all annexes must be written in English.
Additional specific requirements for Chinese, Finnish and German applicants are outlined below. Applications arriving late and applications not fulfilling the national requirements will not be considered. No legal entitlement can be derived from the submission of a project description.
The joint proposal must include the following information:
- cover page with name and address of the project coordinator, followed by the names and addresses of all subproject leaders,
- joint project summary (one page maximum, 12pt and 1.5 line spacing),
- still a formulae free short project summary (15 lines),
- joint research plan with a general description of the project including scope, topic, relevance, overall approach, structure of the cooperation and synergy for the collaborative project as a whole (12 pages maximum, 12pt and 1.5 line spacing),
- for each subproject, a detailed description of the work plan to be carried out by the respective national research team, and a detailed financial plan of the subproject (six pages maximum per subproject, 12pt and 1.5 line spacing),
- overall financial plan for the joint application (two pages maximum),
- description of how results will be disseminated (one page maximum, 12pt and 1.5 line spacing),
- annex with short CVs for each leader of a subproject (two pages maximum including 10 selected publications).
Specific instructions for Chinese subprojects
Applications concerning a subproject to be carried out in China are requested to conform to all the requirements listed in the Chinese call for proposals published on NSFC website.
Specific instructions for Finnish subprojects
Applications concerning a subproject to be carried out in Finland conform to all the requirements listed for this specific trilateral joint call in the April 2011 call for proposals published by the Academy of Finland. Applications to the Academy of Finland must be submitted no later than 15 June 2011 at 4.15 pm. The deadline is non-negotiable.
Specific instructions for German subprojects
Applications concerning a subproject to be funded by the DFG and carried out in Germany are requested to fulfil the eligibility requirements of DFG’s Individual Grants Programme, see the corresponding general information and guidelines for proposals, form 1.02e. Please note the new regulations concerning publication lists: Each project partner may list two project-related publications per year of funding applied for plus an extra maximum of five publications per person highlighting the previous track record of the applicant in any research area listed in the CV. Proposals must be submitted by 15 June 2011.
Notification of results
Applicants will be informed in writing of the results of the review and, where applicable, of the following administrative steps according to the national regulations, respectively. The selection of the projects will take place by the end of 2011. The projects may start as of the beginning of 2012.
For detailed information at the “Specific Chinese-Finnish-German Application Form” please refer to:
The “Research Grants – General Information and Guidelines for Proposals” (form 1.02e) can be found under: www.dfg.de/foerderung/formulare_merkblaetter
For China: Lu Rongkai, Director of division, NSFC, phone: +86 10 623 25351, lurk(at)nsfc.gov.cn
For Finland: Mika Tirronen, PhD, Programme Manager, Academy of Finland, phone: +358 9 7748 8255, mika.tirronen(at)aka.fi
Questions concerning scientific issues may be addressed to Dr. Andreas Strecker, Programme Director, German Research Foundation (DFG), phone: +49 228 885-2530, andreas.strecker(at)dfg.de. Questions concerning issues of international cooperation may be addressed to Dr. Ingrid Krüßmann, Programme Director, German Research Foundation (DFG), phone: +49 228 885-2786, ingrid.kruessmann(at)dfg.de.