Infections via Droplets

Prevent Infections via Droplets or Aerosols! EKFS wants to expedite the development of new protective measures against viruses via an idea and project competition amounting to 1 million euros.

Infections via Droplets

In the course of exhaling and talking, when people sneeze and cough, pathogens are emitted to the surrounding environment due to atomization in the form of droplets and aerosols. An infection transmission by person-to-person contact via droplets or aerosols occurs when these pathogens subsequently reach people’s mucous membranes and reproduce there.

Currently common precautions taken in the way they are being applied within the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic are inadequate. Maintaining a distance of 1.5 meters is relatively arbitrary and not far enough for aerosols. Mouth & nose facial coverings are not virus-proof, they impair communication and make breathing more difficult. In relation to their impact, air filters and ventilation systems are in many cases not tested or unreliable.

Even though with vaccination we do have a very effective instrument against COVID-19, future mutations of coronaviruses might reduce the protective effectiveness of vaccination, and new viruses transmitted via droplets and aerosols could lead to renewed major medical and economic problems. This is why Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung wants to contribute to advancing the research and development of measures toward preventing droplet and aerosol infections.

The foundation is therefore making 1 million euros available on a one-time basis for projects toward the prevention of infections transmitted by droplets and aerosols bearing a relevance to practical application.

Funds are allocated in a two-stage process. A total of 52 promising short proposals were received by April 15, 2021. The 12 applicants with the best jury assessment were invited to submit full proposals by the end of July, which are currently being reviewed. At the beginning of October, the jury will make its funding recommendation to the Foundation Board, which is expected to decide on the funding at the end of October.

Presentation of the 12 finalists and their projects:

"SarsDefender – Preventing infections caused by droplets or aerosols"

Providing a portable device named “SarsDefender”, which protects against CoV-19 infections by
inactivating pathogens in the air using highly effective high-frequency field technology.


Andreas Javernik
Mag. Daniela Kickl

"Development of Surrogate Viruses as a Reference Material for Experimental Aerosol Studies"

Nonhazardous viruses will be established as test particles for aerosol experiments and provided as reference material.

Main Applicant:

Dr. Michael G. Weller
Head of Division 1.5 Protein Analysis
Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)
Richard-Willstätter-Str. 11, 12489 Berlin, Germany


Dr. Harald Bresch
Division 4.2 Materials and Air Pollutants
Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)
Richard-Willstätter-Str. 11, 12489 Berlin, Germany
Dr. Zoltán Konthur
Division 1.8 Environmental Analysis
Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)
Richard-Willstätter-Str. 11, 12489 Berlin, Germany

"Transport and dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 and biomimetic virus blockers in aerosol-based pulmonary applications"

In this interdisciplinary collaborative project, the dissemination of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 in the respiratory tract after aerosol administration will be investigated and successfully tested antivirals that bind and inhibit the virus will be tested in preclinical studies in the hamster model.


Prof. Benedikt Kaufer: Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Virologie, Berlin
Prof. Rainer Haag
Institut für Chemie und Biochemie, Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Daniel Lauster
Institut für Chemie und Biochemie, Freie Universität Berlin

Prof. Roland Netz
Institut für Physik, Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Jakob Trimpert
Institut für Virologie, Freie Universität Berlin

Prof. Christian Hackenberger
Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie im Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FMP)

Prof. Christian Drosten
Institut für Virologie, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

"Filter material for the depletion of aerosol-associated pathogens, AEROCATCH"

AEROCATCH will use bio-inspired design principles to deliver a functional filter system that captures, reduces and inactivates aerosol-born pathogens.


PD Dr. Thomas Grunwald
Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie, Leipzig


Dr. David M. Smith
PD Dr. Sebastian Ulbert
Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie, Leipzig

"Leak-reduced, reusable mouth and nose protection mask"

Development of a reusable textile mouth and nose protection mask with reduced leak and lower breathing resistance during inspiration.


Dr.-Ing. Martin Dauner
Deutsche Institute für Textil- u. Faserforschung (DITF), Denkendorf


PD Dr. med. Jennifer Herzog-Niescery
Katholisches Klinikum Bochum, Klinik für Anästhesiologie und Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinik der Ruhr Universität Bochum (KKB)

Prof. Dr. med. Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Martin Seipp
Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (THM), Gießen

"The Pathogenic Aerosol Containment Trap (PAConTrap): Platform for measuring pathogen inactivation factors”

From development to operation of a novel apparatus for measuring inactivation of pathogens, including influenza and SARS-CoV-2, in aerosol particles using different inactivation factors (T, RH, pH, UV, etc.).


Prof. Dr. Silke Stertz
Institut für Med. Virologie
Universität Zürich

Prof. Dr. Thomas Peter
Departement Umweltwissenschaften
ETH Zürich

"Establishing the electronic nose as a quick and non-invasive screening tool to fight the COVID-19 pandemic - we smell Covid-19!"

With the help of the electronic nose, we want to check whether SARS-CoV-2 infected people smell different and can be identified within a minute, so that we can establish a new, non-invasive, time and cost-effective screening tool.


Dr. Sybelle Goedicke-Fritz
Universität des Saarlandes Klinik für Allgemeine Pädiatrie und Neonatologie, Homburg/Saar


"Aerosol-effective physical disinfection - IOizing air systems with plasma (IOLUS)"

In the present project, completely new, compact, highly effective and cost-effective combination filters with an integrated UV plasma stage are developed and their medical effectiveness against various pathogens (including SARS-CoV-2, influenza viruses, bacteria, fungal spores, etc.) are to be certified.


PD Dr.-Ing. Lambert E. Feher

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hengel, Prof. Dr. Martin Schwemmle
Institut für Virologie, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg

Dr. Matthias Walker
Institut für Grenzflächenverfahrenstechnik und Plasmatechnologie IGVP, Universität Stuttgart

Prof. Dr. Thomas Iftner, Prof. Dr. Michael Schindler, Prof. Dr. Daniel Sauter
Institut für Medizinische Virologie und Epidemiologie der Viruskrankheiten, Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

“Aerofix – Detection of airborne pathogens”

Development of a point-of-care device for the simple, rapid and reliable detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other lung pathogens in the air.


Dr. Laura Paulowski
Nationales Referenzzentrum für Mykobakterien
und Diagnostische Mykobakteriologie, Borstel

Dr. Susanne Homolka
Molekulare und Experimentelle
Mykobakteriologie, Borstel

Personalized and sustainable masks with high wearing comfort and perfect tightness to prevent droplet or aerosol infections

The applicants are developing personalized, 3D-printed masks that are based on each user's 3D-scanned facial model to ensure high comfort and perfect fit, eliminating problems of medical and FFP masks including ineffective filtration and facial scarring after long periods of wear.


Dr. Ali Ertürk
Furkan Öztürk
Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine,  Neuherberg

"Novel anti-viral drugs for blocking virus entry and replication applicable by inhalation"

Short description: Novel, cell-penetrating peptides for blocking virus entry or synthesis will be developed and applied by inhalation in order to treat infected cells and protect neighboring non-infected cells.


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. et. med. habil. Michael Bachmann
Institutsdirektor Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
Institut für Radiopharmazeutische Krebsforschung (FWP)

"Sensorplattform für den Nachweis von Infektionskrankheiten in Tröpfchen und Aerosolen"

Das Projektteam entwickelt neuartige elektronische Biosensoren auf Basis von Nanomaterialien, die skalierbar in existierende Halbleitertechnologien integriert werden können. Die Sensoren werden Erreger von Infektionskrankheiten in Aerosolen und kleinen Tröpfchen zuverlässig, hochspezifisch und in Echtzeit nachweisen.


Prof. Dr. Gianaurelio Cuniberti
Professur für Materialwissenschaft und Nanotechnologie, TU Dresden


If you have any questions regarding the project, please contact us by phone +49 6172 8975-0 or e-mail

Here you can find further information.