funding

DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER: NSF REGIONAL INNOVATION ENGINES (RIE) PROGRAM

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) newly established Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) has announced the NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program. This bold new initiative aims to significantly expanding our Nation’s innovation capacity by investing in key areas of national interest and economic promise, in every region of the United States. To accomplish this ambitious goal, the program will fund the development of Regional Innovation Engines that will cultivate and sustain activities in use-inspired research and development, translation of innovation to practice, entrepreneurship, partnership and stakeholder development, and workforce development to realize thriving regional innovation ecosystems. The outcomes of this program will enhance the nation’s economic and industrial competitiveness as well as national security.

The NSF Engines program provides up to ten years of funding per Engine award with a maximum budget of $160M, with up to an additional two years of funding to support development activities before creating an Engine. The program solicits proposals corresponding to three award types, as outlined below.

  • Type-1 awards are development awards that provide seed funding to enable awardees to lay the groundwork for establishing a new NSF Engine, with the goal of catalyzing a new innovation ecosystem for a specific topic area. Type-1 awards are intended to allow teams to prepare for the submission of a successful Type-2 proposal. The duration of a Type-1 award is up to 24 months, with a maximum proposed budget of $1M.
  • Type-2 awards are intended to support awardees representing a geographical region of service that are well-primed to support a regional innovation ecosystem. Type-2 awards provide funding for up to 10 years, with a total maximum budget of $160M.

Submission of a Type-1 development proposal is not required for the submission of Type-2 proposal. See the NSF Engines Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for further details on the award types and the differences between the various types.

The BAA specifies proposal deadlines for both proposal types. Prior to submission of proposals, teams are required to submit a Concept Outline, which is due June 30, 2022, for both proposal types. Approval of a Concept Outline from a cognizant NSF Program Officer is required to submit a full proposal.

For more information about the NSF Engines program including frequently asked questions and upcoming webinars, visit the NSF Engines program website. Additionally, visit the NSF Engines BAA website to view proposal deadlines and information on award types and differences.   See MCB’s Blog Post from May 10 to learn more about NSF sponsored Bioeconomy Workshops that address critical national needs relevant to Engines.

MCB ANNOUNCES THE SECOND VERSION OF SENTINELS: DREAM SENTINELS

MCB has replaced the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), Sentinel Cells for the Surveillance and Response to Emergent Infectious Diseases (NSF 20-105) with a new DCL:  

Sentinel Systems that Detect, Recognize, Actuate, and Mitigate Emergent Biological Threats (DREAM Sentinels).

In this new Sentinels DCL, MCB again partners with the Directorate for Engineering’s Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems to call for proposals to be submitted to core programs that address novel synthetic biology approaches to quickly sense and respond to the next emergent biological threat prior to its evolution in its host or transmission to human populations.

All proposals submitted in response to this DCL should include biosensing and bioactuation elements that address a biological threat. The biosensing element should leverage the power of modern biotechnology and deliver robust and specific recognition of the biological threat. The results of bioactuation should alert the user, destroy the threat, protect the host, or initiate an immune response or other strategies that would mitigate the threat. Other possible areas of interest are included in the DCL.

Proposals submitted in response to this DCL should have a title prefaced with “DREAM Sentinels:”. Proposals should be submitted to the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster where proposals are accepted without deadline and are reviewed as they are received.

Investigators interested in submitting a proposal are strongly encouraged to contact Anthony Garza, aggarza@nsf.gov. More information on the DCL can be found here.

It is anticipated that up to $3,000,000 will be allocated annually for DREAM Sentinels awards, subject to the availability of funds.

NSF EFRI Solicitation: Engineered Living Systems Topic (Focus on Sustainable Engineering and Safe Built Environment)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released a new solicitation (NSF 21-615) topic as part of its FY22 Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program, entitled, Engineering Living Systems (ELiS).

The Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities (EFMA) Office will host an informational webinar on October 15, 2021, at 2 PM EDT, to discuss the EFRI program and answer questions about the FY 2022/23 solicitation. To register for this webinar, go to this link.

The EFRI-ELiS topic will support transdisciplinary research to advance the design, modeling, fabrication, and manufacturing of engineered living systems to address societal needs as well as the associated ethical, legal, and social implications of using living systems as building blocks and components for next-generation sustainable engineering. More specifically, ELiS will seed and catalyze transformative and convergence research with the goal of creating living systems for sustainable engineering with a focus on three national/societal needs: Thread 1) a sustainable built environment, Thread 2) monitoring and surveillance for a safe built environment, and Thread 3) biomining for sustainable metal extraction and resource recovery. ELiS will also contribute to the development of the basic science and engineering knowledge needed to advance the respective missions of our Federal Partner Agencies including 1) NASA’s goals for sustainable space exploration and 2) the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)’s goals for the development and deployment of enabling capabilities to understand the built environment, threats, and vulnerabilities.

Each proposal submitted in response to this topic of the EFRI solicitation is required to address one of the three research threads and each of the foundational research components listed below:

  • Foundational Research: 1) design and/or modeling, 2) fabrication and/or manufacturing, and 3) ethical, legal, and social implications.
  • Research Thread 1: Sustainable Built Environment
  • Research Thread 2: Monitoring and Surveillance for a Safe Built Environment
  • Research Thread 3: Biomining for Sustainable Metal Extraction and Resource Recovery

The full solicitation (21-615) can be found here. Letter of Intent will be due on November 10, 2021. Preliminary Proposal will be due on December 16, 2021. Full Proposal will be due on March 10, 2022.

NSF 21-100 DCL RENEWAL: BIO AND UKRI/BBSRC COLLABORATION AND BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT

The National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) recently released Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) “UKRI/BBSRC-NSF/BIO Lead Agency Opportunity in Biological Informatics, Microbes and the Host Immune System, Quantum Biology and Synthetic Cell” (NSF 21-100). This DCL announces the continued collaboration between the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and BIO on topics of strategic importance to both agencies. The topics for the coming fiscal year FY 2022 remain the same as those announced for FY 2021.

Under the lead agency agreement, researchers can submit a single collaborative proposal that will go through a streamlined review process either at NSF or at UKRI, on behalf of both NSF/BIO and UKRI/BBSRC.

Potential proposers should submit a letter of Intention to Submit (ITS) by September 22, 2021. If both agencies agree that the research topic fits the topical areas identified for FY 2022, researchers will be invited to submit a full proposal to the appropriate NSF or UKRI program.

Projects must address the priorities of both UKRI/BBSRC and participating NSF/BIO Divisions. Proposers must provide a clear rationale as to the need of the US-UK collaboration, including the unique expertise and collaboration that the team will bring to the project.

For full details on submission guidelines, program priorities, and contact information, see DCL NSF 21-100.

BLOG ANNOUCEMENT: The MCB Blog members will be going on a hiatus until mid-August. We hope to see you again in the fall!

BIO and COVID-19 Recovery Efforts

Updated 5 Mar 2021: A recording of the session is now available (Access Passcode: ++6ZM*=i).

From BioBuzz, the blog of the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO): “Throughout the past year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported the research community by providing guidance, funding flexibilities, and deadline extensions. This support will remain a top priority for NSF as we seek to recover from the pandemic. Up-to-date information on these offerings continues to be added to the agency’s Coronavirus Information page.”

A BIO-wide virtual office hour event covering how BIO is supporting those impacted will be held Tuesday, Mar. 2, 11 am – 12 pm EST. For more information on these efforts and to register for the office hour, read the full post, linked here.

Updated Guidelines for Conference and Workshop Proposals

The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) has updated its guidelines for conference and workshop proposals to reflect changes in NSF’s latest Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG 20-1). Both the new PAPPG and these updates go into effect June 1, 2020. The new guidelines emphasize MCB-specific funding priorities and best practices for submitting proposals requesting funding to support conferences, workshops, and other meetings.

The infographic below summarizes key tips for submitting competitive conference and workshop proposals. Contact your MCB program director with questions or comments.

*Budget with Justification – Additional budget guidelines include the following:

  • Attendees whose primary purpose at the meeting is to learn and receive training are considered participants and their costs should be listed on Lines F. 1-4, “Participant Support Costs.”
  • Speakers and trainers generally are not considered participants; their costs should be listed on the appropriate line, e.g., “Other Direct Costs: Other” (Line G.6). [PAPPG Chapt II.C.2.v Participant Support]
  • Indirect costs do not apply to the “Participant Support Costs” category, but they do apply to all other categories at the organization’s federally negotiated rate. Absent this rate, the organization may request a de minimis indirect cost rate of 10% of the modified total direct costs without providing supporting documentation or may elect not to charge indirect costs. [PAPPG Chapt II.C.2.g.viii Indirect Costs]
  • Supported participants should be members of the US scientific community (e.g., individuals working in US institutions). [PAPPG Chapt I.E. Who May Submit Proposals]
  • Federal funds must not be used to pay for alcoholic beverages or for entertainment. [Chapt II.2.xiii. Allowable and Unallowable Costs]

New Solicitation – Transitions to Excellence in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Research (Transitions) (NSF 20-505)

Funding opportunities are now available for mid-career or later-stage researchers (Associate or Full Professor, or equivalent) to expand or make a transition in their research programs via a sabbatical leave or similar mechanism of professional development and then develop a new research program in their own lab based on the sabbatical leave experience.

Awards will fund up to six months of PI salary during the first sabbatical or professional development year, followed by support to continue the research program for two subsequent years upon the PI’s return to normal academic duties. Proposals are welcome in all areas currently funded by MCB, and proposals addressing major open questions at the intersections of biology with other disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering are of particular interest to the program.

Proposals are accepted any time, in accordance with MCB’s no-deadline core solicitation. Program details, including more information on program priorities and additional criteria, can be found in the full solicitation (NSF 20-505).

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.

Updated Funding Opportunity – Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships

The Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnershipsprogram has released an updated solicitation calling for preliminary proposals that would ultimately lead to the awarding of five new research STCs. Science and Technology Centers support innovative, potentially transformative, complex research and education projects that require large-scale, long-term awards. They provide a means to undertake potentially groundbreaking investigations at the interfaces of disciplines and/or highly innovative approaches within disciplines. These centers can cover research in any topic that is funded by NSF including all areas of biology, and education. They usually include partnerships among academic institutions, national laboratories, industrial organizations, and/or other public/private entities, and international collaborations, as appropriate, to accomplish their research. More information on eligibility and other program specifics can be found in the solicitation 19-567.

Some important details:

  • Submissions of preliminary proposals are limited to 3 proposals per institution
  • Submissions limited to 1 proposal per PI or co-PI
  • Preliminary Proposal Due June 25, 2019
  • Full Proposal Due January 27, 2020

Questions can be answered by reaching out to the cognizant program officer. All proposals submitted in response to this STC solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 19-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after February 25, 2019.

Harnessing the Data Revolution: Informational Webinar and Funding Opportunities

A word cloud with "Harnessing the data revolution" in the center and other words such as analytics, data science, and machine learning smaller surrounding it

NSF announces an informational webinar, updated deadlines, and new funding opportunities for Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR). HDR is one of the “10 Big Ideas” and represents a national-scale activity to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will allow fundamental questions to be asked and answered at the frontiers of science and engineering.  The HDR vision is realized through an interrelated set of activities and funding opportunities, each designed to amplify the intrinsically multidisciplinary nature of the emerging field of data science. 

HDR Webinar

A webinar will present an overview of the new solicitations and other current HDR funding opportunities.

          Event: Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Information Webinar

          Date: February 15, 2019 – 1:00pm until 3:00pm Eastern Time

          Register in Advance Here

Updated Submission Deadlines

Due to the recent 35-day lapse in appropriations and shutdown of the agency, NSF is extending the submission deadlines for the following two HDR solicitation.

NSF 19-518 Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Data Science Corps (DSC)                

  • Full proposals due February 14, 2019

NSF 19-543  Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Institutes for Data- Intensive Research in Science and Engineering – Ideas Labs (I-DIRSE-IL)

  • Preliminary proposals (required) due March 4, 2019
  • Full proposals due June 19, 2019

New Funding Opportunities

NSF 19-550 Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science Phase I

  • Letter of intent due March 25, 2019
  • Full proposal window April 24, 2019 – May 8, 2019

NSF 19-549 Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Institutes for Data-Intensive Research in Science and Engineering – Frameworks (I-DIRSE-FW)

  • Full proposals due May 7, 2019