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Berlin University Alliance

Berlin University Alliance funds global health research

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Global health in focus

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the topics of air pollution, climate change and social inequality have made one thing very clear: global health remains an issue of crucial importance to society, politics and research across the globe. The topic is also at the heart of the Berlin University Alliance’s (BUA) second Grand Challenge Initiative (GCI).

Plans under the initiative include the establishment of both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research partnerships which will be dedicated to identifying and exploring the pressing societal issues of the future. The ‘exploration projects’ funding line aims to enable qualifying projects to create a sustainable global health research environment within the capital and develop a ‘Berlin approach’ to global health. With the combined expertise of the Berlin University Alliance’s four member institutions (Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) and its high concentration of non-university and public research institutions, Berlin offers ideal conditions for innovative ideas, collaborations and research approaches.

“Global health brings together health-related issues which, until now, have mostly been studied separately. Multinational, multidisciplinary collaboration helps to explore links between social, biological, cultural, political and other aspects of health,” explains Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, Director of Charité’s Institute of Virology and Spokesperson for the BUA’s ‘GCI Global Health’. This particular initiative is not only focused on the spread of infectious diseases or the management of future pandemics. It also aims to explore other factors affecting global health. These include ways of managing increased urbanization and its impact on people’s mental health, as well as the issue of loss of biodiversity and the effects of climate change on health.

As part of the initiative, the BUA will support cross-institutional research projects via its ‘Determinants of Global Health: Exploring Biological, Human-made & Environmental Factors’ call for proposals. Projects involving at least two of the alliance’s partner institutions will receive approximately € 6.8 million over a period of three years. The deadline for submissions is 19 July 2021. The earliest date for funding to begin is 1 February 2022. The call for proposals is open to researchers from all disciplines.


The Office of the Berlin University Alliance, Dr. Nina Fechler, email: nina.fechler(at)
Scientific Coordinator Global Health, Dr. Julia Wolanski, email: grand-challenges(at) 

The Berlin University Alliance
A consortium comprising Berlin’s three universities (Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universitätsmedizin Berlin) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Berlin University Alliance has set itself the aim of shaping the future of science in Berlin. The four partners have joined forces to further enhance Berlin’s status as a hub of research and turn the city into an integrated research environment capable of competing with the best in the world. In addition to focusing on exploring major societal challenges, enhancing public engagement, promoting junior researchers and addressing the quality and value of research, the consortium partners also work together on cross-sectoral issues pertaining to research infrastructure, teaching, diversity, equal opportunities and internationalization. The Berlin University Alliance is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of Berlin (as part of the Excellence Strategy program, which is administered by the federal and state governments).