Funding Opportunity

New Funding Opportunities: Rules of Life Solicitations

a picture of a hand dripping drops of water onto a small plant with dramatic sunlight in the backgroundThe National Science Foundation recently announced two new solicitations: Understanding the Rules of Life: Epigenetics (NSF 18-600), and Understanding the Rules of Life: Building a Synthetic Cell (NSF 18-599). These NSF-wide opportunities are part of Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype, one of NSF’s 10  “Big Ideas” for future investment.


A headline banner reading "Understanding the rules of life: epigenetics" underneath of which is a cartoon of a short strand of DNA wrapped around three histones like three beads on a single string

Understanding the Rules of Life: Epigenetics (NSF 18-600) invites proposals which investigate heritable biological or chemical mechanisms that produce a phenotypic effect without alteration of the DNA sequence.  Projects must integrate education perspectives and research approaches from more than one research discipline (e.g., biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, physics, social and behavioral sciences).

Full proposals are due February 1, 2019 and can be submitted in one of two submission tracks:

(1) award duration of up to 3 years and a total budget of $500,000 or

(2) award duration of up to 5 years and a total budget of $3,000,000.

The specifics of the program priorities and areas of emphasis, as well as additional limitations and guidelines, can be found in the full solicitation.


A title banner reading "understanding the rules of life: building a synthetic cell" over an image of a plant root tip with each cell glowing green due to GFP attached to the cell wall

Understanding the Rules of life: Building a Synthetic Cell: An Ideas Lab Activity (NSF 18-599) invites researchers to apply to participate in an inter-disciplinary Ideas Lab focused on facilitating innovative research projects for designing, fabricating, and validating synthetic cells that express specified phenotypes. Up to $10,000,000 of funding is available for successful project proposals resulting from the Ideas Lab.

Building a synthetic cell is a grand challenge at the interface between biological, mathematical, computer and physical sciences and engineering.  Meeting this challenge requires simultaneous careful exploration of the social and ethical dimensions of such research as well as educating today’s students to engage in the activities and technologies required to develop and use synthetic cells.

To apply to this program, researchers should:

  • submit preliminary proposals due December 28, 2018,
  • participate, if selected, in the Ideas Lab workshop to be held February 25 – March 1, 2019, and
  • if invited to do so, submit, as part of a team, a full proposal due May 13, 2019.

Full details regarding the specifics of the research ideas, proposal limitations, and the application process can be found in the full solicitation.

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.



Photo for PostThe Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) is excited to announce a new funding opportunity designed to help improve graduate student preparedness for entering the workforce. As the accompanying Dear Colleague Letter NSF 16-067 states, “The NSF will consider support for supplements to existing research awards (FY 2016 and FY 2017) to enhance professional development opportunities for students in PhD programs.” Requests should be made no later than May 20, 2016 for FY 2016 consideration, and no later than April 3, 2017 for FY 2017 consideration.

In MCB, this supplemental funding can be used to support either PhD student participation in professional development courses, or PhD student participation in other experiences that extend beyond the student’s discipline or broaden career options. Please review the Dear Colleague Letter for further information about eligibility and submission requirements.

If you have questions, please contact one of the following MCB representatives from the appropriate cluster:

  • Cellular Dynamics and Function (CDF) and Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB) Clusters: Charles Cunningham, Program Director,
  • Genetic Mechanisms (GM) Cluster: Bill Eggleston, Program Director,
  • Molecular Biophysics (MB) Cluster: Wilson Francisco, Program Director,