MCB

French Agence Nationale de la Recherche/Physics/MCB Lead Agency Agreement at the Physics – Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Interface

The NSF Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in the Directorate for Biological

Sciences and Division of Physics in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (NSF/MCB and NSF/PHY) recently released Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) “ANR – NSF/Physics/MCB Lead Agency Opportunity at the Physics – Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Interface” (NSF 21-120). This DCL announces the continued collaboration between the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) and NSF to support projects that use multidisciplinary approaches to examine mechanisms underlying essential life processes at the molecular, subcellular, and cellular scales. Proposals that use physics based experimental and theoretical approaches are encouraged. 

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 ANR. In FY 2022 (October 2021-September 2022), NSF will serve as the lead agency for all proposals. Proposals should be submitted to: NSF 21-593 Division of Physics: Investigator Initiated Research Projects. The deadline for proposals is December 14, 2021. While proposals are submitted to NSF/PHY, they will be jointly reviewed by PHY and MCB.

Simultaneously, the French institution must submit a proposal with the identical Project Description, with any required additional information to ANR, via the ANR submission system (https://anr.fr/fr/appels/). The deadline for this is December 15, 2021.

For full details on submission guidelines, program priorities, and contact information, see the DCL: NSF 21-120.

Welcome to FY22 – Recap of MCB funding opportunities and priorities

Greetings from all of us in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the National Science Foundation! 
The new federal fiscal year FY 2022 is underway and we are looking forward to all the exciting science you will propose and accomplish in the coming year.

Stay Informed on News and Updates by Following the MCB Blog
Watch this space, where we will announce funding opportunities and tell you about virtual and in-person venues to talk with MCB program officers. The blog is also where we share information about the MCB portfolio and announce new funding opportunities. Look here, too, if you are interested in rotating or permanent employment opportunities in MCB. 

Keep up to Date on Upcoming and Past Virtual Office Hours
We use the linked Virtual Office Hours site to share an archive of advice from program directors to applicants. The recorded sessions and files walk through a variety of topics from how to prepare a budget, tips for developing broader impacts activities, and how to submit a proposal to suggestions for writing effective, constructive reviews.

Check out a Quick recap of MCB Highlights to Kick Off the New Funding Year

Engage with MCB Virtually
For the time being, MCB will continue to have virtual review panels and program directors will visit scientific meetings virtually, too. If your conference, department, or institution would like a virtual visit, don’t hesitate to contact a program director to see what can be arranged. All of us at MCB look forward to serving you in the year ahead.

BIO-wide Virtual Office Hour on changes in the new NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures guide

Join the Directorate for Biological Sciences for a BIO-wide Virtual Office Hour at 3:00 PM Eastern Time on October 26, 2021 on the changes in the new NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG, 22-1), which  became effective on October 4, 2021.

Representatives from NSF’s Policy Office will present on the changes and be available for questions. 

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://nsf.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_udIs4ENmQxetfQUu4LSpeQ

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

As a reminder, the PAPPG is comprised of documents relating to the Foundation’s proposal and award process for the assistance programs of NSF. The PAPPG, in conjunction with the applicable standard award conditions incorporated by reference in the award, serve as the Foundation’s implementation of 2 CFR §200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.

The new PAPPG (22-1) can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg22_1/nsf22_1.pdf and a list of changes begins on page 2 of the PDF.

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!

MCB CONGRATULATES THREE 2020 PROTEIN SOCIETY AWARD RECIPIENTS

The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) congratulates three MCB-funded researchers for recognition by The Protein Society. Catherine Drennan, Karen Fleming, and Martin Gruebele were among seven recipients of the 2020 Protein Society Awards announced March 12.

Head shot of Dr. Catherine Drennan, recipient of the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from The Protein Society, 2020.

Professor Catherine Drennan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is the recipient of the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award. The award recognizes “exceptional contributions in protein science” having a large impact on the scientific understanding of biology. The Society cites Dr. Drennan’s contribution to the understanding of the biology of metalloproteins as well as her advocacy for “inclusion and equity”in science and education.

Professor Karen Fleming (Johns Hopkins University) is the recipient of the Carl Brändén Award. The award was bestowed by The Protein Society.

Professor Karen Fleming (Johns Hopkins University) is the recipient of the Carl Brändén Award. The award honors an outstanding protein scientist who makes “exceptional contributions” in the areas of education or service. Dr. Fleming is cited for her work on thermodynamic measurements of membrane protein folding. She also received recognition for her service work with major scientific societies and her efforts to address gender biases.

Professor Martin Gruebele (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) has been awarded the Hans Neurath Award. The award recognizes researchers who have made notable contributions to basic protein research. Dr. Gruebele is cited for his work on the use of flash heating and ultrafast spectroscopy for studying protein folding and for studying flash folding in live cells.

Cell Cycle: MCB Camaraderie

Twelve MCB members and three guests joined thousands of other bicyclists for a 20-mile ride through Washington, D.C. on May 18. The ride was part of DC Bike Ride 2019. A portion of the registration fees was allocated to raising awareness of biker safety in D.C., which was recognized last year as the largest city on the East Coast to receive the "Gold" bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists.

Front row, left-to right: Megan Lewis, David Rockcliffe, Basil Nikolau, Michael Weinreich, Kelly Parshall, Alexis Patullo, Ann Larrow, and Matthias Falk
Back row: Alias Smith, Dave Brougham (guest)

Twelve MCB members and three guests joined thousands of other bicyclists for a 20-mile ride through Washington, D.C. on May 18. The ride was part of DC Bike Ride 2019. A portion of the registration fees was allocated to raising awareness of biker safety in D.C., which was recognized last year as the largest city on the East Coast to receive the “Gold” designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community SM by the League of American Bicyclists.

“It was a great day to have the Division rally together and spend the time on ‘cycling the cell’ as a team,” said Dr. Bassilos Nikolau, Division Director for MCB. “Participating in events such as this is important because so many of us at MCB, NSF, and the wider federal workforce are bicycle commuters.”

Team members not pictured above are Theresa Good, Wilson Francisco, Rita Miller, Axel Azcue (guest) and Michael Hubbard (guest).

MCB Welcomes Dr. Alias Smith, AAAS Fellow

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to “advancing science for the benefit of all people.” Science and Technology Fellows at NSF partner with NSF staff for a year-long term of service. During that assignment, Fellows assist in the planning, development, and oversight of agency programs. Many also develop projects that both interest them and serve the organization to which they have been assigned. MCB is excited to welcome Dr. Alias Smith as our AAAS Fellow for the 2017-18 term.

Dr. Alias Smith, AAAS Fellow, MCB, 2017-18

What is your educational background?
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from University of Missouri, Columbia. Next, I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at University of California, Los Angeles, where I studied gene expression in the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. My postdoctoral training at University of California, San Diego, centered around understanding the life cycle of the parasite Giardia lamblia.

What is your position? When did you start working in MCB?
I began my posting as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in MCB in September. As an AAAS Fellow I have the opportunity to carve out my projects within the scope and mission of MCB. I have received great guidance from MCB staff, program directors, and our acting division director in creating my fellowship plan. My primary focus in MCB is on working with the program directors in the Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB) cluster to develop and align research goals with synthetic biology research interests both within NSF and between NSF and outside agencies.

Additionally, professional development is a major component of the AAAS Fellowship. During my time in MCB, I will learn advanced data analytics skills to conduct a portfolio review of the proposed science submitted to the SSB cluster under past solicitations. I will also become more familiar with the merit review process. The AAAS Fellowship and MCB also provides opportunities for me to work on projects that broaden participation in science and technology education, training, and careers.

What attracted you to work for NSF?
Science education, mentoring, and outreach have been consistent components of each phase of my research training and professional career. Recently, I became curious about the bigger picture: What mechanisms influence STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and research on a larger scale? I want to learn first-hand how NSF impacts the science-education and the research communities. The AAAS Fellowship has afforded me the opportunity to directly witness the inner workings of NSF and to support the agency’s mission and strategic goals.

What have you learned so far from your position?
I have learned how valuable it is to have a variety of expertise among reviewers and program directors during the merit review and funding decision process. It is impressive to witness how much work and thought goes into reviewing each proposal.

RUI AWARD SUPPORTS 2017 STUDENT RESEARCH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDEE, RIMA REBIAI

Rima Rebia, Student Research Acheivement Award, Biophysical Society, Feb. 2017

Rima Rebiai, winner of the Biophysical Society’s “Student Research Achievement Award” stands next to her entry.

At the 61st Biophysical Society meeting held in New Orleans February 11-15, 2017, undergraduate researcher Rima Rebiai received the prestigious Student Research Achievement Award. Of the 14 awards made, Rebiai’s research was the only project focusing on nanoscale biophysics.

Rebiai’s research was funded in part by a Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant from the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB). RUI proposals support faculty at predominately undergraduate institutions to conduct research that builds institutional capacity for research and supports the integration of research and undergraduate education.

The research was a collaboration between and Dr. Emina Stojkovic, Bernard J. Brommel Research Professor, Department of Biology at Northeastern Illinois University, and Drs. Ken Nicholson and Stefan Tsonchev, Associate Professors in the Department of Chemistry. The award (#1413360) was the first to be awarded to the Biology Department in NEIU’s history, said Stojkovic. An interesting side note, Stojkovic added, is that she attended a similar meeting of the Biophysical Society as an undergraduate student 17 years ago with her research advisor, Dr. Anne Walter from St. Olaf College.

The university featured the honor on its News and Announcements page. According to Northeastern, Rebiai’s project, titled “Light-Induced Conformational Changes of S. aurantiaca Bacteriophytochromes as Revealed by Atomic Force Microscopy,” is the first to use atomic force microscopy to build structural characterization of light-regulated enzymes. Highlighting Stojkovic’s pride in Rebiai’s achievement, the article concludes with a quote: “This is a true honor to have our student stand on the national stage.” Rebiai is currently in her first year of Ph.D. studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago.