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.

Share your Input on Cyberinfrastructure

NSF recently released a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) inviting the community to provide input on data-intensive science and engineering research questions and challenges and the essential data-related cyberinfrastructure (CI) services and capabilities needed to publish, discover, transport, manage and process data in secure, performant and scalable ways to enable that data-intensive research.

This is an opportunity for the BIO community to provide input on questions, challenges and associated needs specifically related to data-focused CI. While this DCL is not a funding opportunity, all input would be used to inform the refinement of NSF’s CI investment strategy and planning of future NSF funding opportunities.

For more information on how to submit ideas, please refer to the DCL (NSF 20-015) or contact the NSF Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, nsfdatacirfi@nsf.gov.

The deadline for submissions is December 16, 2019.

Re-posted from BIO Buzz

Next Steps for NEON

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) became fully operational this year, and public sources of data are now freely available. Additionally, a recent Dear Colleague Letter announced an intent to compete management of future operation and maintenance of the network. Read more about it on Bio Buzz, BIO’s blog from the office of the Assistant Director.

Dear Colleague Letter: Models for Uncovering Rules and Unexpected Phenomena in Biological Systems (MODULUS)

Funding opportunities are available in fiscal years FY 2019 and FY 2020 to provide support for proposals from interdisciplinary teams comprised of mathematical, computational, and biological scientists to develop MODels for Uncovering Rules and Unexpected Phenomena in Biological Systems (MODULUS). The divisions of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) and Mathematical Sciences (DMS) are seeking to cultivate innovative modes of collaboration among researchers working at the interface of mathematics and molecular and cellular biology. The MODULUS DCL encourages the formation of nascent collaborative teams that use novel mechanistic mathematical models to guide systems-scale exploration and discovery of new biological phenomena, rules, and theories that govern molecular interactions and emergent behaviors in living systems.

Proposals in response to this DCL may be submitted to the current core solicitations, either in DMS via the Mathematical Biology Program Description, PD 18-7334, or the MCB solicitation NSF 18-585 and directed to the Systems and Synthetic Biology program. Full details on program priorities, submission requirements, and important dates are available via the DCL 19-054.


The March 1 deadline for submissions to the NSF 19-027 (Dear Colleague Letter: Request for Information-Integration Institutes for Cross-cutting Biology) remains unchanged. For more information about this DCL, please visit the BIO Buzz article posted at this link.

Integration Institutes Request for Information Due March 1

The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences has published a Dear Colleague Letter: Request for Information seeking ideas from the community on Integration Institutes for cross-cutting biology. These institutes would support collaborative teams of researchers to address questions that span multiple levels of organization in living systems and require expertise from diverse biological subdisciplines.

For more information, please visit the BIO Buzz article posted at this link.


A new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) Rules of Life (RoL): Forecasting and Emergence in Living Systems (FELS) is now soliciting research proposals addressing fundamental problems in biology and ultimately leading to the discovery of the “rules of life.” (more…)


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