"What is life?" – This fundamental question has been occupying mankind for centuries. Quite recently, research areas located especially at the interface between the natural and life sciences emerged that provide new insights on this question: biophysics, synthetic biology and systems chemistry explore and develop artificial cell systems no longer definable as living or non-living. With the help of modern techniques biological cells can be mapped and analyzed. Scientists increasingly succeed in simulating processes of life within artificial systems or in developing novel artificial systems based on basic principles of life.
These approaches seek a better understanding of fundamental principles of life, and in doing so they open up intriguing and novel perspectives on life to complement the philosophical view. With its initiative the Volkswagen Foundation aims to support unique and excellent projects at the interface between the natural and life sciences with this particular focus.
Scope of Funding
The Foundation's initiative addresses not only individuals at all stages of their postdoctoral career, but also integrative joint projects with (international) cooperation partners working at the interface between natural and life sciences whose projects hold promise of producing novel findings on principles of life.
In view of the ambitious nature of this kind of research the Volkswagen Foundation is able to provide long-term funding for up to five years. Up to 10 projects are envisaged for funding per call, each in an amount of a maximum of 1.5 million euros.
Further details on the conditions and the application procedure can be found under Information for Applicants (pdf). Proposals must be submitted electronically in English via the electronic application system.
The funding initiative "Life? – A Fresh Scientific Approach to the Basic Principles of Life" was launched in 2015. Up to now, 21 projects have been funded.