The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has approved the establishment of four new competence centres. This was decided by the DFG Joint Committee during its spring session in Bonn. The four centres were chosen from a total of six applicants. They will be equipped with next generation sequencing technology (NGS) and funded with a total of €14 million for an initial period of three years. There will also be a 22 percent programme allowance for indirect project costs arising from the operation of the centres. In the future, the funded universities will offer researchers across locations consulting on sequencing projects and bioinformatics.
The four funded centres are: the "West German Genome Center", a cooperation headed by the University of Cologne with the University of Bonn and the University of Düsseldorf; the "NGS Competence Center Tübingen" at the University of Tübingen; the "DRESDEN-concept Genome Center" at the Technical University of Dresden; and the "Competence Centre for Genomic Analysis Kiel" at the University of Kiel. Following a call for proposals, the competence centres were selected by a group of reviewers with international participation in accordance with scientific and infrastructural criteria.
With this funding initiative, which was decided on in July 2017, the DFG seeks to address the urgent need for modern NGS infrastructures at universities. The competence centres and the links between them are only the first step towards the creation of a larger national infrastructure. "I believe that with this funding decision, a very successful first phase of the NGS funding initiative can be implemented: the creation of four competence centres spread across the whole of Germany," said Prof. Dr. Katja Becker, Vice President of the DFG and Chair of the working group that developed the funding initiative. "But of course the signal effect of the initiative is also aimed at other funding bodies, as the DFG can address only the urgent need, but cannot cover the necessary creation and maintenance of a national NGS infrastructure and its funding over the long term."
A second call, which is to take place shortly, is aimed at projects with middle-sized sequencing requirements - from €100,000 to €1 million. Proposals can be submitted from any research location in Germany and for any organism. The necessary sequencing will be carried out through the centres that have now been funded.
NGS allows the genome, epigenome and transcriptome of a biological sample to be fully recorded and quantified. Due to the data intensity of the method - cutting-edge devices generate up to 6 terabytes of data in less than two days - and the resulting complexity of the bioinformatic analyses, it is clear that for many users in research, the broad range of services must include a bioinformatic consultation in advance and during the evaluation of the data. The DFG believes that this aspect also constitutes the added value in the use by academic institutions, since high quality sequencing that is tailored to a very diverse range of research issues is often not available through commercial solutions or providers.
DFG Press and Public Relations, Tel. +49 228 885-2109, firstname.lastname@example.org
Information can also be obtained from the contacts at the funded centres:
West German Genome Center: Prof. Dr. Peter Nürnberg
NGS Competence Center Tübingen: Prof. Dr. Olaf Riess
DRESDEN-concept Genome Center: Prof. Dr. Ezio Bonifacio
Competence Centre for Genomic Analysis Kiel: Prof. Dr. Philip Caspar Rosenstiel
DFG programme contact:
Dr. Gunter Merdes, Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology, tel. +49 228 885-2476, email@example.com