About the project

Welcome. This section will provide information about the DFG priority research programme (SPP) 1596. The grant application review process has been completed and we expect project co-ordination to begin early 2013.

The field of emerging viruses is gaining tremendous interest in the scientific community. However, the large diversity of agents and the necessity to work across disciplines remains an unmet challenge. Whereas the collaboration between human and veterinary medicine has been identified as an approach to opening the perspective on zoonotic disease agents, this “One Health” approach remains restricted to a medical perspective. Beyond, there has been little collaboration between fundamental disciplines relevant to the topic, specifically fundamental virology and fundamental zoology. Even though pathogen emergence and evolution is addressed in both disciplines, there are significant gaps between both disciplines in the mutual understanding of methodology, the formulation of concepts and hypotheses, as well as the use of a common terminology and language. Beyond the specific tasks described in this application, dealing with this issue will improve disease modelling in general, by generating virus-host models without artificial adaptation. This opens the big chance to understand much more about true host-pathogen relationships valid in the human setting as well. In the field of zoology and ecology, the inclusion of virus parameters in population and habitat studies will open a novel perspective on mechanisms that precipitate in the rapidly-involving timescale of virus evolution. With the great expertises that zoology and virology offer in Germany, it seems highly promising to put efforts in the interlinking and co-ordination of those most competitive groups from both fields that show a genuine and deep interest in fundamental questions beyond medical application. Because required approaches are highly complex and diversified, there is no single place in Germany that unifies all expertises involved, preventing the formation of locally-restricted collaborative research centres (CRC/SFB). Through a multi-faceted Priority Program (SPP) we will create the critical mass of co-ordinated research required for the establishment of cross-discipline scientific excellence that is sustainable in local settings and ensures leadership of German groups in international programs.


Topology of the addressed field of research. The model describes the hypothesized transition of a pathogen from its reservoir host to a recipient species, crossing a species barrier. Work on the Reservoir host setting will have a strong focus on the ecological and genetic aspects as well as density and dynamics of the host population, including effects of anthropogenic change on those factors, but also on vectors transmitting disease between reservoir hosts. The Species barrier setting is subdivided according to stages of the viral replication cycle (entry/morphogenesis, innate immunity, host cofactors). The Epidemic setting is subject to classical disciplines in infectious diseases research (epidemiology, medical virology including immunology, genetics) and is therefore not addressed with priority.