Special Call on Coronaviruses

16 March 2020

Rapid support for research into coronaviruses and their impact

Following the serious SARS and MERS epidemics of the past, another coronavirus has led to the Covid-19 epidemic, a public health emergency of global proportions. An intensification of research efforts is therefore urgently needed. For this reason, the SNSF is supporting projects involving research into coronaviruses – to tackle the current crisis and prepare for likely future epidemics. The SNSF is convinced that Swiss research can make a difference and has therefore launched a special call. A budget of five million Swiss francs has provisionally been earkmarked for the call.

The call opens on 6 March and closes on 25 March 2020. It addresses researchers in all disciplines who are able to contribute to a better understanding of the virus, its spread, the resulting illness as well as diagnosis and treatment, or who can help the health system and society as a whole deal more effectively with the epidemic. The call takes into account the agenda set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is in line with the priorities defined by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Further information about the scope of the call is provided in the call document.

The SNSF will forward the project proposals to international experts for evaluation. Applicants may request up to 300,000 francs for projects lasting up to 24 months. Bigger grants are conceivable, provided the applicant has good reasons for requesting a higher amount. The items covered by the grant are similar to those in national SNSF projects (e.g. equipment, research funds, salaries). The SNSF will endeavour to communicate its funding decisions by mid-May 2020 so that researchers can start work as soon as possible.

On completion of the project, research data must be made available for researchers and authorities worldwide and without delay. The special call is also aimed at enhancing research in Switzerland and expanding research capacity in important areas. This is the first time that the SNSF is launching a call for proposals in response to current events. Based on the experience gained in this call, the SNSF will define criteria to help decide when and how to react to similar situations in the future. 

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