Funding & Service

Two Mid-CAREER solicitations: Transitions and MCA

MCB offers two special opportunities for mid-to-late-career scientists looking to enhance their research programs. A brief comparative overview is provided below.

Transitions to Excellence in
Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
Research (Transitions)
Mid-Career Advancement (MCA)
NSF 21-508NSF 21-516
MCB-specific solicitationNSF-wide solicitation
Open to all mid-career scientists, typically at Associate or Full Professor rank (or equivalent).Open to Associate Professor rank, 4th year onward (or equivalent).
Enables mid-career or later-stage scientists to pursue exciting new avenues of inquiry and expand or transition their research toward greater impact.Supports mid-career scientists to reinvest in their research amid high service and teaching responsibilities, through collaborative partnerships.
Offers PI salary for a sabbatical or similar professional development mechanism and additional 2 years of funding to continue building the research program.Offers PI and mentor salary, and funding to support associated research and training activities.
Priority is given to proposals built on a strong record of prior accomplishment and a compelling plan for moving the research in new directions. Projects that explore cross-disciplinary dimensions are encouraged.Priority is given to proposals demonstrating a substantive benefit to the PI’s research and career trajectory. Projects that explore cross-disciplinary dimensions are encouraged.
Deadline: Proposals are accepted at any time.Target Date: February 01, 2021 and the first Monday in February, annually thereafter.
Budget: $750,000 total over 3 years, including PI salary (6 mo)Budget: PI salary (6.5 mo), mentor salary (1 mo), and $100,000 total for research over 3 years.
Full list of requirements and funding priorities is in the solicitation, including Program Officer contacts, additional information can be found in the FAQsFull list of requirements and funding priorities is in the solicitation, including Program Officer contacts.

MCA will be hosting a webinar for more information and to answer any questions on Friday January 15 12PM EST. Register in advance here, a confirmation email will be sent which includes instructions on how to join.

Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO) Solicitation NSF 21-543

A new solicitation has been issued by the Directorate for Biological Sciences that is relevant to MCB Investigators, Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO; NSF 21-543). The program replaces the Rules of Life track, which was previously a part of the core program solicitations in the four Divisions of the Directorate for Biological Sciences. The new program refines and expands the former submission track.

The IntBIO solicitation invites submission of collaborative proposals that tackle bold questions in biology and require an integrated approach to make substantive progress. Integrative biological research spans subdisciplines and incorporates cutting-edge methods, tools, and concepts from each to produce groundbreaking biological discovery.

Note that proposal submissions to IntBIO have a deadline of March 16, 2021. Also note that, as BIO progresses in migrating proposal submissions to Research.gov, submissions to IntBIO must be made through Research.gov or Grants.gov.

Join MCB’s next Virtual Office Hours on Wednesday, January 13th from 2pm-3pm where we will discuss the IntBIO solicitation. Program Officers will introduce the solicitation, highlighting key aspects, and representatives from each of the program will be available for questions.

REGISTER FOR MCB’s VOH HERE

DEB’s next Virtual Office Hour on Monday, January 11th from 1pm-2pm EST will also cover the solicitation.

REGISTER FOR DEB’s VOH HERE

Informational EDGE Webinar: January 15, 2021, 2:00pm ET

The following is reposted from the IOS in Focus blog:

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS), together with the Divisions of Biological Infrastructure (DBI), Environmental Biology (DEB), and Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host a webinar about the Enabling Discovery through GEnomics (EDGE) program, which recently released a new solicitation, (NSF 21-546). Following a brief presentation, program directors from all of the Divisions and agencies will be available to answer questions from participants.

Through the EDGE program, the NSF and the NIH support genomic research that addresses the mechanistic basis of complex traits in diverse organisms within the context (environmental, developmental, social, and/or genomic) in which they function. The program also continues to support the development of innovative tools, technologies, resources, and infrastructure that advance biological research focused on the identification of the causal mechanisms connecting genes and phenotypes. 

Information on how to join the webinar live can be found below. The slides and transcript of the webinar will be posted here on the IOS blog as well as the EDGE program website after the live event.

All are welcome to join and ask questions!

Participant Instructions for the EDGE Program Webinar:

 When: Jan 15, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 
 Topic: EDGE Program Webinar
 
 Register in advance for this webinar:
 https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_G6jcpqjjRFCjcfSy0YbCxA
 
 Or an H.323/SIP room system:
     H.323: 161.199.138.10 (US West) or 161.199.136.10 (US East)
     Meeting ID: 161 766 4900
     Passcode: 468123
     SIP: 1617664900@sip.zoomgov.com  
     Passcode: 468123
 
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
 
If you require accessibility accommodations to participate in this webinar, send an email to ethiels@nsf.gov 14 days in advance of the webinar specifying the accommodations needed. 

Related NSF/BIO programs and Divisions
Neural Systems
Behavioral Systems
Developmental Systems
Plant Genome Research Program
Physiological and Structural Systems
Division of Biological Infrastructure
Division of Environmental Biology
Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
  
Related NIH/NHGRI Divisions
Division of Genome Science
Division of Genomic Medicine
Division of Genomics and Society
  
Websites
Materials of the webinar will be available on the EDGE program website and the blogs of each of the Divisions in the Directorate for Biological Sciences following the webinar.

Life after Proposal Decline: Call Your Program Director

Headshot of Dr. Karl Thompson, Howard University

Of course there is a lot of emotion involved with a decline,” says Karl Thompson, Associate Professor of Microbiology at Howard University. He admits that when his proposal to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Excellence in Research (HBCU – EiR) solicitation was declined two years ago, he hesitated to contact Pamela Clarke, his university’s Director of Research Development. “I knew she would tell me to reach out to the program director,” he says. She did.

A week later, Thompson called Anthony Garza, program director in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB), about the declined proposal. The conversation with Garza helped Thompson recognize the need to improve an aim and to recruit a collaborator to supplement the specific expertise needed on the proposed project. The conversation also affirmed for Thompson that the division was interested in the research area covered by the proposal, he says. Encouraged, Thompson submitted the revised proposal to MCB’s core solicitation (NSF 21-509). This time, the proposal was funded.

Thompson first applied to the EiR solicitation after attending MCB’s first webinar-based workshop for potential applicants. Participating in the mock panel review was a valuable experience, he says, and the webinar overall helped him understand and work with NSF structures.

To develop as an outstanding scientist, you’re going to have a lot of failures—and all of that is learning. – Karl Thompson

“If you make it, you have a track record of declines. To develop as an outstanding scientist, you’re going to have a lot of failures—and all of that is learning,” says Thompson. A review of proposal submissions by 10 of MCB’s most widely recognized awardees indicates that of nearly 300 proposals submitted, nearly half were not funded.  

“I am resilient,” says Thompson, “but it’s not that simple, because I had people along the way who guided me.” He offers this advice to fellow researchers: “Do the mourning. Do the denial. Then snap out of it.” And, call your program director!

Join BIO Program Officers for a Webinar on the Biology Integration Institutes Solicitation

A webinar providing information on NSF 20-601 (Biology Integration Institutes (BII)) will be held Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 1 pm EST. A question and answer session will follow the webinar.

Join the webinar at https://nsf.zoomgov.com/j/1603208549?pwd=S0lDSlpkd2hpZVVJdnVGYVFNdUhYUT09

The event will be hosted by the Directorate for Biological Sciences.

New Solicitation: Designing Synthetic Cells Beyond the Bounds of Evolution (Designer Cells)

A new solicitation (NSF 21-531) invites proposals that use cell design technology to address questions regarding the fundamental processes of life, the evolution of life, and biological diversity beyond extant processes and organisms. Proposals which use this technology for novel biotechnology applications are also welcomed. The goal of this solicitation is to support innovative research that develops and uses synthetic cell-like systems or cells to address at least one of the following themes:

  1. identify the minimal requirements or minimal functional units for the processes of life;
  2. address fundamental questions in the evolution of life on Earth or to explore biological diversity beyond that which currently exists in nature;
  3. provide new functionalities for innovative biotechnology applications.

Proposals submitted to this solicitation should address social, ethical, and safety issues associated with designing and building synthetically modified cells as an integrated component of the project.

Full proposals are due February 16, 2021 and on February 1 annually thereafter via Research.gov. Full solicitation requirements, program priorities, and contact information for program officers can be found in the solicitation NSF 21-531.

Webinar Announced for Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-1 Program

On Wednesday, November 4, 2020 and Thursday, November 5, 2020, NSF will host outreach webinars with information about the Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure (Mid-scale RI)-1 funding opportunity (NSF 21-505). 

The Mid-scale RI Big Idea is intended to provides an agile, Foundation-wide process to fund experimental research capabilities in the mid-scale range ($6 million to $100 million), between the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) and Major Facilities thresholds.  Recently, the solicitation (NSF 21-505) for the Mid-scale RI-1 program (for infrastructure with total project cost of $6 million up until, but not including, $20 million) was published with a deadline of January 7, 2021 for preliminary proposals.

Each session will begin at 1:00 p.m. (EST) and have two parts: a general Mid-scale RI-1 information session (1:00 p.m. -1:40 p.m. EST) with Q&A followed by Directorate-specific breakouts (1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EST) where more technical questions will be addressed. The information presented on Day 1 will be the same as the information presented on Day 2.

To participate in the main session and the BIO breakout on either Day 1 (November 4) or Day 2 (November 5), please use the links below:

Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure (Mid-scale RI-1): NSF 21-505 Q&A – Main meeting
1:00 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. EST
Join ZoomGov Meeting: https://nsf.zoomgov.com/j/1614702269?pwd=djl0Z2hnU3I3QXNiRHYraitMclhjZz09
Meeting ID: 161 470 2269
Passcode: 5i8ELv

BIO Directorate Breakout
1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EST
Join ZoomGov Meeting: https://nsf.zoomgov.com/j/1605815851?pwd=THJGL3JIYjRYdGVoQ3VzT08rQitOZz09
Meeting ID: 160 581 5851
Passcode: g&2Xz!

Reposted from DBIInfo

DCL 21-017: Conferences to Prepare for the Transformation of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Research through Information Synthesis and Integration

The field of molecular and cellular biosciences has generated vast amounts of knowledge about cellular parts and processes through advances in biophysical, -omics, and imaging technologies, among others. The work of synthesizing this information, such as harmonizing and collectively interpreting divergent datasets, developing new analytical approaches and tools, building models and theories, and integrating knowledge from within and across various disciplines, can have a transformative impact on all of biology.

NSF has a history of supporting information synthesis through large scale centers, such as the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), that have engaged thousands of investigators over 10-year investment periods and have led to striking advances in their fields.

To begin planning for a synthesis center, the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences has released a Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 21-017) announcing the availability of conference funding to build networks of scientists with diverse perspectives to formulate ideas for a synthesis center in molecular and cellular sciences. To be considered for FY 2021 funding, proposals responsive to this DCL should be received before April 21, 2021. Proposals will be awarded on a rolling basis. Important details about preparing and submitting a competitive conference proposal are included in the announcement.

Future Topics for the NSF Convergence Accelerator: NSF Wants Your Ideas

Your ideas must meet:
Significant national-scale societal impact.
Be built upon basic research.
Convergence research approach.
Submissions are due November 9, 2020.

NSF Wants Your Ideas! Requesting Future Topics for the NSF Convergence Accelerator

The NSF Convergence Accelerator has issued a Dear Colleague Letter (NSF-21-012): Request for Information on Future Topics for the NSF Convergence Accelerator to capture national-scale societal impact ideas from the global community for fiscal year 2022. The request for information (RFI) is the kickoff of the Convergence Accelerator’s ideation process. The providers of selected ideas will be asked to submit a conference proposal to further develop the proposed idea and to gather insights for a final report to assist NSF in determining convergence research topics for 2022.

Participants from academia, industry, government, non-profit, and other sectors are encouraged to submit their ideas at https://bit.ly/31sNzDg. Responses to the RFI are due by November 9, 2020.

Upcoming Webinars for RFI
Interested individuals may join the Convergence Accelerator on October 21 or 27, 2020 to learn about the program’s ideation process, specifically focusing on the FY 2022 RFI on future topics. Attendees will learn about the Convergence Accelerator’s model and fundamentals, designed to leverage a convergence approach to transition basic research and discovery into practice. Through this program, fundamental knowledge generated by MCB-supported science can be transitioned to address complex societal issues.

The goal of this webinar is to bring awareness of this exciting opportunity to accelerate NSF-funded research and discovery to further societal impact.

Wednesday, October 21, 2-3:30 p.m. (ET)
To register, visit https://bit.ly/NSFCA_Oct21_RFIWebinar

Tuesday, October 27, 2-3:30 p.m. (ET) 
To register, visit https://bit.ly/NSFCA_Oct27_RFIWebinar

After registering a confirmation email containing the meeting information, including how to join will be provided. 

For additional information on the NSF Convergence Accelerator program, visit https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/convergence-accelerator/ or email C-Accel@nsf.gov.

From the AD: BIO “No-Deadline” Solicitations Migrating to Research.gov

As part of NSF’s ongoing efforts to innovate and migrate proposal preparation and submission capabilities from FastLane to Research.gov (see Important Notice No. 147), the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) has announced that proposal submissions for our “no-deadline” programs will migrate to Research.gov beginning with revised solicitations to be released in the near future. This change was announced in a Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 20-129) released today and is the first phase of a migration of all NSF solicitations to Research.gov.

Specifically, the following programs will have new solicitations published in the coming weeks at which point investigators should begin submitting proposals through Research.gov. There will be a grace period of 90-days from the date on which the new solicitations are published during which proposals can still be submitted through FastLane. After the 90-day period, the new solicitations will no longer be available in FastLane and any new proposals must be submitted through Research.Gov (or Grants.Gov).

The programs whose solicitations will migrate from FastLane to Research.gov are:

Research.gov improves the user experience while also reducing administrative burden. The system is also flexible enough to meet both users’ changing needs and emerging government requirements. A significant fraction of proposals is already being submitted through Research.gov and investigators report it to be intuitive to use. We do not anticipate that the change to Research.gov will have significant impacts on the submission process. This migration will not affect the merit review process in any way.

To support the community through this migration, technical support and FAQs and videos on proposal submission through Research.gov are available. In addition, we are offering a series of BIO-wide virtual office hours during which you can ask questions of BIO Program Officers.

The virtual office hours will occur on Monday, October 19 at 11 a.m. EDT; Tuesday October 20 at 10 a.m. EDT; Wednesday, October 21 at 1 p.m. EDT; and Thursday, October 22 at 3 p.m. EDT. Members of the community can register for these sessions via NSF.gov.

Finally, if you have any immediate questions please reach out to BIOnodeadline@nsf.gov, which is monitored by Program Officers from across BIO.

Sincerely,

Image of the signature of Dr. Joanne Tornow, Assistant Director for Biological Sciences

Joanne S. Tornow, Ph.D.

Assistant Director