Viral Zoonoses – Innovative Approaches to Drug Development

area of research: life/natural sciences
type of funding: research project
up to 500,000 Euro (specific exceptions up to 700,000 Euro)
3 years (possibly +2 years)
outstandingly qualified group leaders and professors at universities in Germany
prerequisite: translational interest of a European company
additional benefits: funding for communication of science and research

No Open Call

Illustration Menschen im Labor bei der Forschung zu antiviralen Wirkstoffen
The funding initiative 'Viral Zoonoses – Innovative Approaches to Drug Development' bridges the gap between high-risk basic research and practical application. (Design: Freepik


The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the associated respiratory disease COVID-19 are challenging drug research worldwide. Looking beyond the current corona pandemic, innovative approaches are required for the development of therapeutics against underexplored and yet unknown viruses. Via a change of host, viruses are transmitted from animals to humans at an unpredictable point in time and can cause serious illness. Against this backdrop, the Volkswagen Foundation supports a diversified virology and drug research at German universities and supports highly innovative research approaches with recognizable translational potential.

Scope of funding

This call is open for outstandingly qualified scientists at German universities from medical and synthetic chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, virology and virus immunology, veterinary medicine, molecular and structural biology as well as related fields. Bilateral cooperation between members from natural sciences and a medical faculty are welcome. 

A letter of support by a company expressing a potential translational interest is obligatory for an application. Dependent on the research goal a statement on ethical issues or a formal ethics vote is required.

For research projects with a duration of 3 years a budget up to 500,000 Euro can be applied for, in justified exceptions up to 700,000 Euro (e.g. establishment of a model system). Successful projects will have the opportunity to submit a continuation application on translational aspects for another 2 years with up to 1 million Euro.  

Further details on the conditions and the application procedure can be found in the "Information for Applicants 121" (pdf). Proposals are written in English and must be submitted and filed electronically via the Foundation’s electronic application system.


This special funding call was established in August 2020 in reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic.