A new solicitation (NSF 21-531) invites proposals that use cell design technology to address questions regarding the fundamental processes of life, the evolution of life, and biological diversity beyond extant processes and organisms. Proposals which use this technology for novel biotechnology applications are also welcomed. The goal of this solicitation is to support innovative research that develops and uses synthetic cell-like systems or cells to address at least one of the following themes:
identify the minimal requirements or minimal functional units for the processes of life;
address fundamental questions in the evolution of life on Earth or to explore biological diversity beyond that which currently exists in nature;
provide new functionalities for innovative biotechnology applications.
Proposals submitted to this solicitation should address social, ethical, and safety issues associated with designing and building synthetically modified cells as an integrated component of the project.
Full proposals are due February 16, 2021 and on February 1 annually thereafter via Research.gov. Full solicitation requirements, program priorities, and contact information for program officers can be found in the solicitation NSF 21-531.
Funding is now
available through the Semiconductor Synthetic Biology for Information Storage
and Retrieval Technologies (SemiSynBio-II) solicitation (NSF
20-518) which seeks to leverage synthetic biology
tools, concepts, and methodologies to advance the development of
next-generation semiconductor information storage and retrieval technologies that are driven by biological principles
and use biomaterials in the fabrication of storage and retrieval devices and systems.
goal of the SemiSynBio-II research program will be to foster high-risk/high-reward, multi-disciplinary,
longer-term basic research leading to novel high-payoff solutions for the
information-storage and retrieval industries based on recent progress in
synthetic biology and the know-how of the semiconductor technology.
aims to seed and foster collaborations among the researchers in physics,
chemistry, biology, materials science, computer science, and engineering
disciplines to develop new cross-disciplinary projects and curricula that will
model and integrate concepts, tools and methodology.
solicitation builds from the previous SemiSynBio solicitation (NSF
17-557, no longer active) to include aspects of data retrieval. Proposals
can be submitted during the submission window (due by 5 p.m. submitter’s local
time): February 14, 2020 – March 16,
2020. Full program details including program priorities, submission
guidelines, and contact information can be found in the full solicitation NSF 20-518.
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).
NSF CAREER proposals submitted to BIO are due July 17, 2019 by 5PM submitter’s local time. The CAREER program (NSF 17-537) is an NSF-wide solicitation offering the agency’s most prestigious award for early career faculty. CAREER awards are intended to be the foundation of a lifetime of leadership, research, and education, and in MCB are awarded in any research area supported by MCB core programs. CAREER awardees are also eligible to receive the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Applicants with questions can read these FAQs
or contact the relevant division
representative. All proposals 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,
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
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
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,
In August, the BIO directorate released new solicitations to its proposal submission process to eliminate deadlines and limit the number of proposals that could be submitted to a given division annually by a PI or co-PI. As BIO was receiving far more worthy proposals than it has money to support, this submission cap was established with a view to ensuring that BIO’s merit review process would not be overwhelmed with the move to no deadlines.
In the ensuing three months, the community expressed serious concern that this new policy would hinder collaboration as well as limit funding prospects for new investigators. BIO places a high value on collaboration and on fostering careers of new investigators; thus, we held internal discussions to consider ways to address these concerns. In addition, relatively few proposals have been submitted to BIO since the release of the solicitations.
Having listened to community concern and tracked the current low rate of submission, and following extensive internal consultation, BIO is lifting all PI or co-PI restrictions on proposal submission for FY 2019, effective immediately.
BIO recognizes that it is important to track the effects of the no-deadline policy on proposal submission patterns, to ensure that a high-quality review process is sustained. Therefore, we are seeking approval from the Biological Sciences Advisory Committee to establish a subcommittee to assist in developing the evidence base for any future policy changes that may be needed.
Solicitations for proposals will be amended and released over the next few weeks to reflect these changes.