Funding Opportunity


MCB’s no-deadline solicitation for investigator-initiated research projects has been updated with Core Program priorities and other important changes, including a new Integrative Research in Biology (IntBIO) track, NSF’s requirement for a Safe and Inclusive Working Environments Plan, and budgetary guidance for education or broadening participation activities.  Below is a summary of some of the changes. 

IntBIO Track
The IntBIO program has been incorporated into the MCB solicitation as a new track. This track invites collaborative proposals to tackle bold questions that require an integrated approach to advance fundamental understanding of biological systems across different scales of organization. IntBIO proposals must span two or more subdisciplinary boundaries in biology and proposers are strongly encouraged to consult with a Program Director about the suitability of their project to the IntBIO track. 

To submit a proposal to the IntBIO track, you must provide additional information described in detail in the solicitation. The proposal must articulate the overarching biological question and expected advances in fundamental knowledge, and it must contain a graphical illustration of the integrative strategy, information about the collaborative team, and (as part of the Broader Impacts section) an integrative training and education plan. The proposal title must start with “IntBIO:”  

Safe and Inclusive Working Environments Plan
A plan for Safe and Inclusive Working Environments is now required as a supplementary document for proposals submitted to the MCB core programs after April 18, 2023 that involve off-campus or off-site research. This requirement reflects NSF’s efforts to foster safe and harassment-free environments wherever science is conducted. As a note, other programs across BIO and GEO are part of this pilot to require a plan as a supplementary document so be sure to read solicitations before you begin a proposals. 

Education and Broader Participation
There is also new guidance for requesting support for Education or Broadening Participation Activities. If such activities are anticipated, support should be requested at the time of proposal submission (details to be provided in supplementary documents). Post-award supplemental funding requests for these activities should be for unanticipated opportunities that arise after an award is made. Typical total budgets are: 

RAHSS – $6,000 per high school student; 

RET – up to $15,000 per school teacher; 

REU – $7,000 – $9,000 per undergraduate student; 

REPS – $650 per week over 12 months, plus fringe benefits and travel per postbaccalaureate student; 

INTERN – maximum $55,000 per graduate student per 6-month period; 

ROA – up to $15,000 per faculty member. 

These amounts are for guidance only. Read the solicitation for more details.  


Manju Hingorani, program director in MCB’s Genetic Mechanisms cluster, will be at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2023 annual meeting in Seattle this weekend!    

Manju will be presenting two NSF funding opportunity talks: 

  • For PIs on Sunday, March 26th, 5:30 – 6 pm PT 
  • For students and post-docs on Monday, March 27th, 5 – 5:30 pm PT 

 She will also be available at the NSF booth on Sunday from 2 – 6:00 pm PT 


NSF released two new Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs) focused on bio-inspired design and prioritizing interdisciplinary collaborations: 

BioDesign DCL 
Through the new BioDesign DCL, the MCB Core Programs aim to facilitate the translation of knowledge generated through research in the biological and engineering sciences to solutions and prototypes needed for societal and economic impacts.  

Specifically, the DCL seeks to:  

  • Encourage early-stage, transdisciplinary collaboration of two or more investigators doing research in biological and engineering sciences with the potential for bioinspired design applications; and 
  • Accelerate the translation of research findings into projects with potential societal and economic impacts that could be ready for commercialization. 

Both full proposals and supplemental funding requests will be accepted. All submissions should test hypotheses about the functioning of living things that are of interest to biologists and engineers; create an iterative process between foundational and use-inspired research to create a design that solves a practical problem; and develop prototypes based on these activities as part of a process of exploring pathways to larger societal and economic benefits. 

Additional participating programs in the BIO, ENG, and TIP Directorates are listed at the end of the DCL. Investigators are strongly encouraged to speak to a participating program director (listed with email contacts in the BioDesign DCL) before submitting a proposal or supplemental funding request. 

Convergence Accelerator Track M 

This DCL alerts the community to an upcoming solicitation from NSF’s Convergence Accelerator with three tracks, including Track M: Bio-Inspired Design Innovations (the other tracks are also BIO-relevant so check them out). Track M aims to bring together cross-sector teams to develop concepts, approaches, and technologies that capitalize on millions of years of evolution to find novel solutions to major societal and economic challenges. The track was chosen based on the results of an NSF-funded community workshop on Bio-Inspired Design. Broad topics within this track may include – but are not limited to – the following: 

  • Development of materials with features such as programmable self-assembly, multi-modal sensing, computation, memory, adaptation, and healing and regenerative capabilities. 
  • Novel manufacturing capabilities that harness advances in synthetic biology, bioengineering, nanofabrication, and 3D printing. 
  • Engineering complex systems with novel properties based on principles of synthetic biology, bioengineering, and robotics or organismal biology (e.g., organoids, microbial consortia, collective swarms). 
  • Computational modeling and theory-enabled methods and tools for bio-inspired designs. 
  • Applications in areas including, but not limited to, environmental monitoring, bioremediation and preservation, sustainable materials, biological manufacturing, personalized healthcare, resilient infrastructure, and agriculture and food production. 

For more information on the Convergence Accelerator program, check out the previous 2022 solicitation and the Convergence Accelerator program page. The 2022 solicitation can provide guidance on review criteria and other topics until the 2023 solicitation is published.  

Should you have questions about this DCL, please contact the Convergence Accelerator program at


NSF has announced a new Global Centers (GC) program, an ambitious effort to fund international, interdisciplinary collaborative research centers that will apply best practices of broadening participation and community engagement to develop use-inspired research on climate change and clean energy. Centers are also expected to create and promote opportunities for students and early career researchers to gain education and training in world class research while enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

International Partnerships

Given the global scale of the challenge of responding to climate change, NSF has partnered with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in Canada, and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in the United Kingdom. These international partners will fund non-U.S.-based parts of teams under one of two tracks in the program.

Program Tracks

  • Track 1: Global Center Implementation will support the first Global Centers involving research partnerships with Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Awards will be up to $5 million total per award of 4-to-5-year duration. Foreign teams will be funded by their respective country agencies.Full proposals for Track 1 are due by May 10, 2023.
  • Awards will be up to $250,000 total per award of 2-year duration.The proposal window for Track 2 is between April 2, 2023 and May 10, 2023.

Opportunities to Learn More

Program Webinar

The GC program team hosted a webinar to introduce the new solicitation to the community and give potential PIs an opportunity to ask questions. The webinar was recorded and can be viewed here.

Virtual Office Hours

The GC program team is also hosting a series of Virtual Office Hours aimed at giving potential PIs an opportunity to ask questions. The series starts on March 7 and ends on May 2. Any questions about the program can be asked at any session, although two of the sessions will have a special focus: Monday March 13 (Non-R1 Institutions) and Monday March 20 (Minority Serving Institutions).Session dates and times can be found on the event page.

There are no restrictions on attending multiple sessions, so please feel free to attend the session which best fits your schedule. The Zoom link will be the same for all sessions.


It’s not too late to request a feasibility review for NSF 22-549, “Accelerating Innovations in Biomanufacturing Approaches through Collaborations Between NSF and the DOE BETO funded Agile BioFoundry”. The deadline for requesting feasibility reviews from the Agile BioFoundry is extended to March 1st.  

Make your request here.

This funding opportunity will provide support for synthetic and engineering biology research projects that have the potential to leverage the unique capabilities at the Agile BioFoundry to further the development of the fundamental research towards eventual translation. Read more about the Agile Biofoundry here.



NSF 23-554

The National Science Foundation, in partnership with the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute, announces the release of the 2023 Molecular Foundations for Biotechnology (MFB) solicitation (NSF 23-554). The MFB program invites proposals to develop fundamentally new approaches in molecular sciences to drive new directions in biotechnology.

In recent years, fundamental discoveries and technological breakthroughs have revealed a rich landscape of coding and noncoding RNA functions in the cell. The variety and prominent roles of RNAs in enabling and regulating cellular growth, development, and a myriad of functions present exciting opportunities for mechanistic research coupled with technological development centered on this versatile nucleic acid. This solicitation calls for proposals to develop and provide proof-of-concept testing of tools, methodology and/or theory that address one or both themes below:

  1. Accelerate fundamental discoveries about RNA structure, interactions, and functions at molecular or genome and transcriptome-wide scales, and/or
  2. Create innovative RNA-based applications for various sectors of the bioeconomy such as agriculture, energy production, or efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve environmental sustainability, and/or combat global pandemics.

Letter of Intent Due Date (required): March 16, 2023

Full Proposal Due Date:  May 11, 2023

Register for information sessions with live Q&A:

Check the MFB program site for information on additional sessions.


Tuesday Feb. 7, 2023 3:30- 4:30 ET

Several solicitations from the Directorates for Biosciences (BIO) and Geological Sciences (GEO) will soon require the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan (list of those solicitations below) that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the review process. An upcoming Virtual Office Hour listening session will occur on February 7, 2023. Program Officers from BIO and GEO will provide an overview of the new requirement and take your questions and comments.

This 2-page supplementary document must address the following four sections:

  1. a brief description of the field setting and unique challenges for the team; 
  2. the steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment, including processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture, e.g., codes of conduct, trainings, mentor/mentee mechanisms and field support that might include regular check-ins, and/or developmental events;  
  3. communication processes within the off-site team and to the organization(s) that minimize singular points within the communication pathway (e.g., there should not be a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone); and  
  4. the organizational mechanisms that will be used for reporting, responding to, and resolving issues of harassment if they arise.   

If you are planning a submission that will involve off-campus or off-site research, defined as data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site including via fieldwork and research activities on vessels and aircraft, we encourage you to join this webinar.

Register for the webinar HERE

The solicitations that currently include this requirement are:

  • BIO Core Solicitations:
    • Division of Environmental Biology (NSF 23-549)
    • Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (NSF 23-547)
    • Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (NSF 23-548 )
  • Biodiversity on a Changing Planet (BoCP, NSF 23-542)
  • Pathways into the Geosciences (GEOPAths NSF 23-540)
  • Cultural Transformation in the Geosciences Community (CTGC NSF 23-539)


The Dear Colleague Letter: NSF Options to Address Helium Supply Short Concerns (NSF 22-088) has been archived and replaced by Track 3 in the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) solicitation  (23-519).  In 2023, MRI will have two submission windows:  January 16-February 21 and October 16-November 15.

The MRI Program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training in our Nation’s institutions of higher education and not-for-profit scientific/engineering research organizations.  An MRI proposal may request up to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument. 

The Tracks for MRI proposals have been revised and now include:

  • Track 1: Track 1 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than $100,000 and less than $1,400,000.
  • Track 2: Track 2 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $1,400,000 up to and including $4,000,000.
  • Track 3: Track 3 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,000 and less than or equal to $4,000,000 that include the purchase, installation, operation, and maintenance of equipment and instrumentation to conserve or reduce the consumption of helium.

Please note that each performing organization may submit up to four MRI proposals:  no more than two submissions in Track 1, no more than one submission in Track 2, and no more than one submission in Track 3. 


A webinar will be co-hosted on Wednesday January 25th, 2023 by teams from the NSF, BETO, and ABF.  The webinar will describe the objectives of this funding opportunity, discuss key considerations, as spelled out in the solicitation, lay out steps for submitting, and emphasize key dates.

To register for this webinar – Click Here.

The Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (DOE BETO) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in the Biological Sciences Directorate and Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems in the Engineering Directorate announce a collaborative funding opportunity, “Accelerating Innovations in Biomanufacturing Approaches through Collaboration Between NSF and the DOE BETO funded Agile BioFoundry (NSF-DOE/ABF Collaboration)”,  NSF 22-549

To help advance the U.S. bioeconomy, this funding opportunity will provide support for synthetic and engineering biology research projects that have the potential to leverage the unique capabilities at the Agile BioFoundry to further the development of the fundamental research towards eventual translation. The topical areas of interest should align with the broad interests of both NSF and DOE BETO.

Thematic areas of particular interest include: 1) expansion of the range of host organisms amenable to the tools of synthetic and engineering biology; 2) development of novel biotechnology approaches to mitigate climate change; 3) projects that advance a circular bioeconomy; and 4) development of affordable, bio-based, sustainable aviation fuel or other products of interest to NSF and DOE BETO that can demonstrate significant climate change mitigation and/or greenhouse gas reductions over a petroleum baseline. The potential economic and environment impact of the project is also a consideration.

Researchers from institutions of higher education and nonprofits are eligible to apply.  Prior to submission of the NSF proposals, project ideas must be evaluated by ABF for feasibility (see below).  Full proposals will be submitted to and reviewed by NSF, and projects selected for support will be confirmed for suitability by ABF.  Successful projects will include funding from NSF for the work performed at the Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) institution and funding from BETO to support the part of the project to be completed by the ABF. DOE BETO will support the work at ABF through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Visit ABF’s Work-With-Us page for more details, including the current CRADA document. 

The deadline for proposal submission is Tuesday, April 18th, 2023.  Proposed projects entail close collaboration with the ABF team. Therefore, prior to submission, PIs are required to request a feasibility review of the project for which ABF collaboration is desired, using the template located here. Once a project has been deemed feasible by the ABF, PIs will coordinate with ABF investigators and refine scope and budget details. PIs will be provided a feasibility evaluation document to submit with their NSF proposals. The proposal timeline is as follows:

  • February 15th, 2023 – PIs submit outline of proposed work to ABF for feasibility review. Prior to submission deadline, PIs are encouraged to review ABF capabilities.
  • March 1st, 2023 – ABF provides feedback to PIs and NSF on the feasibility of the proposed work. PIs with a positive feasibility review will coordinate with the ABF team to refine scope and budget for the full proposal.
  • April 18th, 2023 – PIs submit full proposal along with feasibility review documentation from ABF.

NSF will review proposals according to the standard merit review criteria along with specific criteria that are detailed in the solicitation.  Proposers are encouraged to review ABF capabilities and intellectual property provisions of the CRADA prior to submission. 

For full details on submission instructions, solicitation requirements, and contact information, see NSF 22-549.



Office Hour: January 19, 2023, 1:00pm ET

EDGE Proposal Deadline: February 16, 2023

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 at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host a virtual office hour about the Enabling Discovery through GEnomics (EDGE) program and solicitation (NSF 21-546), which has an upcoming deadline of February 16, 2023 for proposal submission.

Following a brief presentation, program directors from all the Divisions and agencies will be available to answer questions from participants.

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

Registration information for the virtual office hour is given below. The slides and transcript of the webinar will be posted here on the IOS blog and on the EDGE program website after the event.

All are welcome to join and ask questions!

Register for this VOH here and be sure to choose January 19, 2023