A host of ideas for coronavirus research

Within 20 days, researchers have submitted 284 applications for the special call. The majority are biomedical, but there are also 80 projects from the humanities and social sciences.

​Researchers are working overtime to find ways of overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic. In this context, the SNSF's special call for coronavirus research has met with great interest, with 284 applications being submitted in all. Of these, 96 study viruses and infections, 35 the immune response in humans and 40 the spread of the disease. 19 projects address communication issues and 60 the psychological, social, legal and economic consequences of the crisis. In 34 projects, the researchers will focus on vaccines and therapeutic substances. The SNSF-funded projects will provide a basis for the subsequent industrial development of active agents.

The researchers were able to apply for grants worth between 50,000 and 300,000 Swiss francs. Larger amounts may be awarded if sufficiently justified. In total, ten million francs are expected to be made available to fund the special call. The applications will now be assessed by international experts based on their scientific quality, the applicants' track record and the projects' feasibility. The evaluators will also check whether the proposed projects reflect the prioritised research fields set out in the call. These fields range from progression of the disease, to preventive measures, to ethical and societal questions.

The SNSF will strive to inform applicants about funding decisions by mid-May 2020, so that research projects could already start in June 2020. With this first special call in its history, the SNSF is entering uncharted territory. The effectiveness of the call will be assessed by the SNSF at a later stage.

Special call on coronaviruses