Coronavirus measures fund

The rapid spread of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus is currently one of the major challenges faced by science and society. Scientists in Germany and all over the world are working on a wide range of projects to develop solution approaches and measures to mitigate the consequences. In order to support scientists and researchers with this task, the Carl Zeiss Foundation has pledged a package of measures to fund selected projects.

A total of ten projects are being funded with a total sum of 600,000 euro within the framework of the aid package.

Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen
Funding for vaccine development

Only an effective vaccine to immunise individuals who are at risk will provide true protection against the respiratory disease COVID-19. The IMPFKRAFT project by the Department of Immunology at the University of Tübingen, headed up by Dr Ralf Amann, is working on a platform-based method to develop a suitable vaccine. The concept is to develop a vaccine that acts against multiple antigens at the same time and is thus intended to bring about an increased immune response thanks to the formation of various antibodies. The project is being funded within the framework of the EXIST funding programme by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). In order to accelerate the development and the clinical studies, the project received an additional sum of 1.3 million euro from the BMWi at the start of April 2020. In mid-April, the Carl Zeiss Foundation made a further 155,000 euro available for the acquisition of a flow cytometer with a cell sorting unit, which is intended to accelerate the process of manufacturing the vaccine prototypes by 20 to 30 percent.

Offene Fachschaft Medizin Freiburg
Covering travel costs for students who are volunteering

The Foundation covers travel costs for students of the Offene Fachschaft Medizin who are undertaking voluntary work relating to COVID-19 in the Freiburg area. The goal is to ensure a more even distribution of volunteers in rural hospitals. The project is receiving 38,000 euro in funding.

Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien
Raman profiling for improved capacity planning

Raman profiling of leukocytes is being funded at the Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien (Leibniz-IPHT) in Jena. The goal is to develop a prognostic model for disease progression in COVID-19 patients in the next three to seven days of the infection. Thanks to the adoption of an existing approach to sepsis, an examination of the white blood cells is designed to provide information on the further disease progression. The project team, led by Professor Dr Jürgen Popp, Director of Science at the IPHT, is working together with Dr Sina Coldewey, Head of the Translational Septomics Research Group at ZIK Septomics, and Professor Dr Michael Bauer, Head of Intensive Care at Jena University Hospital, to develop the approach. The model is intended to contribute to planning capacities for intensive care beds and ventilation facilities predictively and to enable patients to be moved to hospitals with available capacities in good time.

Jena University Hospital
Studies on infectiousness

The infectiousness of COVID-19 patients is being investigated at the University of Jena. The goal of the study carried out by Professor Dr Christina Ehrhardt, Professor Dr Bettina Löffler and Professor Dr Gita Mall is the short-term generation of knowledge for dealing with COVID-19 patients for individuals working in treatment and care and for those working with deceased patients. This allows statements about the quarantine period and effective hygiene measures to be made.

TU Ilmenau
Test stand on the effectiveness of face mask materials

A test stand is being set up at TU Ilmenau to investigate the effectiveness of face mask materials. The team working under Professor Dr Andreas Schober intends to obtain new findings on the effectiveness of the protection provided by various types of face mask.

Mainz University Hospital
Digital lung ultrasound further training programme

A digital lung ultrasound further training programme is being funded at Mainz University Hospital. The Sono For Klinik team under Johannes Weimer and Lukas Müller (student initiators) is working on the digital training with the Rudolf Frey Lernklinik (teaching hospital), headed up by Dr Holger Buggenhagen, at Mainz University Hospital and project partners Dr Yang (radiology), Professor Dr Julia Weinmann-Menke (internal medicine) and Dr Michael Ludwig (Berlin Military Hospital) and additional tutors and supporters. Throughout Germany, students and doctors specialising in other fields will be able to gain practical skills in the field of “Sonography/imaging of the lungs”. Lots of doctors currently need to be able to work with this diagnostic method as a chest X-ray or CT is not always available internally. By using this low-radiation method which is available everywhere in hospitals, the signs and complications of pneumonia can be identified and treated more effectively. The Carl Zeiss Foundation is providing 11,000 euro in funding for this project.

TU Kaiserslautern

In order to increase testing capacities in Germany, scientists from multiple German universities have developed the Pandemic Important Resource Allocation Tool (PIRAT) as part of the federal government’s #WirVsCorona hackathons. The goal is to provide devices, consumables and staff from universities and research institutions, which are not currently required to SARS-CoV-2 testing laboratories. It should also be possible to use PIRAT in other European countries soon.

Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems (IMM) Mainz
Rapid test system for on-site use

At the Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems, Dr Christian Freese and his colleagues are working on the integration of a commercially available SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assay in a prototype rapid analysis device which has already been developed. The test system, which was originally developed to prove the presence of viral conditions of the respiratory system as part of a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, has an analysis time of under 30 minutes and is a handy size for use for rapid on-site testing.

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
New procedure for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2

At the universities in Mainz and Heidelberg, as well as at IMB Mainz, the team working with Dr Bastian Hülsmann is developing a new procedure for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2: an easy-to-use test based on proving the presence of the virus in the saliva is intended to be a cost-effective addition to the well-known, established procedure (primarily as a “rapid test” in the early phase of the infection).

Individual funding
Extension of the funding periods

If research work cannot be continued due to the current measures to restrict the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, for example due to laboratory closures, the Carl Zeiss Foundation provides individuals receiving funding with an extension to their funding period with a corresponding increase in funds for a maximum of three months.