Funding & Service

Congratulations to 2017 Nobel Laureate, Dr. Joachim Frank!

A picture of the three awardees in stylized yellow and blue sketches with each of their names below their face.

© Nobel Media. Ill. N. Elmehed

MCB joins the rest of the scientific community in congratulating NSF funded researcher Joachim Frank who, along with Jaques Dubochet, and Richard Henderson, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in the development of Cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM).

“Cryo-electron microscopy fundamentally changed biology and biochemistry, allowing scientists to create 3-D reconstructions of the biomolecular processes that support life,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “The technology delivers an unprecedented look at life at the atomic scale, providing us with accurate models of everything from viruses to antibodies. Joachim Frank demonstrated that potential to NSF in 1984, when the agency helped him acquire a high-resolution electron microscope for 3-D reconstruction, and then continued to support his development of new applications for the technology over the following decades. Biochemistry owes Frank and this year’s other two Chemistry laureates, Richard Henderson and Jacques Dubochet, a debt for this important visualization tool.”

Dr. Engin Serpersu, Program Director and Molecular Biophysics Cluster Leader stated that “technological developments and improvements in data analysis transformed Cryo-EM from being suitable only to study global structural properties of biological complexes to providing 3D structures with atomic level resolution. These developments also allow researchers to examine proteins smaller than we ever imagined possible, including ones as small as 100 kDa. Undoubtedly, Cryo-EM is now one of the mainstay structural tools helping scientists in a broad range of biological problems and its development is well worth this honor.”


MCB’s current solicitation (NSF 17-589) deadline is Nov. 20, 2017.

In response to popular feedback, and in the interest of our community, MCB will be following in GEO’s footsteps to eliminate deadlines for future proposals. We will release a new solicitation in mid- 2018 which will detail the procedure and funding priorities for proposals submitted with “no deadline.” Funding for the proposals submitted under the no-deadline solicitation will begin during the 2019 fiscal year.

Eliminating proposal deadlines offers three key advantages. First, no-deadlines allows PIs to be more strategic in building collaborations; second, no-deadline reduces the time crush on institutions; and third, no-deadlines enables NSF-BIO to work more collaboratively across the directorate to fund science that crosses levels of biological organization. NSF anticipates that this change will result in more complex, interdisciplinary projects that have the potential to dramatically advance biological science.

More information about the change will be released through FAQs, webinars, presentations, and this blog as it arrives. Read more in the Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 18-11).A timeline of the changes to come over the next two years

10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment

This infographic shows a black background with a white and blue title reading "10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment." The following text says, "The mission of the National Science Foundation is "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperty, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." NSF's 10 Big Ideas "to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership, and to invest in basic research that advances the United States' prosperity, security, health, and well-being" include:..." followed by an image accompanying each of the titles of the 10 big ideas. An image of a chess board says "Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype." An image of data with ones and zeros says "The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution." "Windows on the Universe: The Era of Multi-messenger Astrophysics" with an image of a nebula An image of data streaming says "Harnessing the Data Revolution." An image of circuits leading to a brain says "Work at the Human Technology Fronteir: Shaping the Future." An image of buildings in the night sky says "Mid-scale infrastructure." An image of a glacier breaking apart into the ocean says "Navigating the New Artic." An image of a lightbulb with a sapling says "NSF 2026: Seeding Innovation." An image of three arrows converging on a blue background says "Growing Convergent Research at NSF." An image of people doing research, communicating, a pencil drawing, representing diversity in science says "INCLUDES." The text on the bottom says, "Learn More at https//" next to the NSF logo in black and white. images credited in order of appearance: ANDROMACHI; Mmaxer; NASA images; GarryKillian; Sergey Tarasov; Panimoni; Netta Arobas; Somchaij; Satenik Guzhanina. NSF INCLUDES available at

New Funding Opportunity: MathBioSys

The infographic shows a new funding opportunity. The title in yellow with a blue background at the top says New Funding Opportunity: MathBioSys. The rest of the image is grey with white angled lines and white or yellow text. A drawing of a light bulb on top of math layered with biological drawings and the words MathBioSys is the middle of the image. The text reads, "To faciliate collaborations among mathematicians, statisticians, and biologists, the NSF Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO) and Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) and the Simons Foundation Divisions of Mathematics and Physical Sciences and Life Sciences will jointly sponsor up to... 3 New Research Centers. The NSF-Simons Research Centers for Mathematics of Complex Biological Systems (MathBioSys) soliciation calls for 5-year proposals with innovative collaborative research new interdisciplinary connections, and education and workforce training at the intersection between mathematics and molecular, cellular, and organismal biology. Letter of Intent Due Date: August 10, 2017. Full Proposal Due Date: September 29, 2017. For more details, go to to read program soliciation: NSF 17-560. Questions? Contact: Dr. Arcady Mushegian, Program Director BIO/MCB, For all other NSF Divisions, refer to the Agency Contacts section of program soliciation NSF 17-560 to find the appropriate point of contact, or direct your email messages to the Program Directors on the MathBioSys Working Group at The bottom of the image shows the NSF and Simons Foundation logos.

Photo Credit: Adapted from Juliann/ 

NSF-Simons Research Centers for Mathematics of Complex Biological Systems hosted a webinar with Q & A on Thursday, June 15, 2017, and the slides presented can be viewed at:

Please read solicitation NSF 17-560 for more information.



A new NSF Dear Colleague Letter (DCL; NSF 17-031) has been posted: Request for Information on Future Needs for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure to Support Science and Engineering Research (NSF CI 2030).

From the DCL:

“NSF Directorates and Offices are jointly requesting input from the research community on science challenges and associated cyberinfrastructure needs over the next decade and beyond. Contributions to this Request for Information will be used during the coming year to inform the Foundation’s strategy and plans for advanced cyberinfrastructure investments. We invite bold, forward-looking ideas that will provide opportunities to advance the frontiers of science and engineering well into the future.”

We encourage MCB to weigh in – what do you see as the cyberinfrastructure that will be needed to advance molecular and cellular biosciences?

The DCL points to an external submission website ( Please note that the deadline for submissions is April 5, 2017 5:00 PM ET. Questions about this effort and the submission process should be sent to Dr. William Miller, Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, at this email address: