SIAM News Blog

Funding Snapshot: Recent NSF and Department of Energy Funding Opportunities

Information shared by Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – February 2023

Below are highlights of recent and upcoming funding and engagement opportunities from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE):

Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Solicitation for Molecular Foundations for Biotechnology (MFB) Program with Focus on RNA Biotechnologies

The National Science Foundation (NSF), through the Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Biological Sciences (BIO), and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), released a new solicitation for the Molecular Foundations for Biotechnology (MFB) program, now in its third year. This year’s competition is specifically focused on interdisciplinary research on RNA function in biological systems to advance biotechnologies. New in this competition, NSF will partner with the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to administer these awards, and the NSF Directorate for Engineering (ENG) is not participating in the solicitation. In addition to its primary research focus, the MFB program also aims to promote workforce development; proposals can incorporate internships or similar opportunities for students and postdoctoral researchers to conduct research in non-academic settings.

This marks the second recent collaboration regarding biotechnologies between NSF and NIH, following the Dear Colleague Letter issued last month by the NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI) and MPS seeking to accelerate the interdisciplinary study of cancer as a living material. Federal agencies have been increasing activities related to biotechnology and the bioeconomy since the Biden Administration released Executive Order 14081, Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy, in September 2022.

Proposals should focus on molecular and cellular sciences, but may also examine broader biological systems, and proposers are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary research with a foundation in chemical and physical sciences. Proposals must seek to develop methodologies or technologies to drive fundamental innovations in the bioeconomy that address at least one of the following themes:

  • Accelerate fundamental discoveries about RNA structure, interactions, and functions at molecular or genome and transcriptome-wide scales, and/or
  • 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.

All proposals submitted in response to this solicitation will be reviewed by NSF in consultation with NHGRI, and meritorious proposals will be recommended for funding by NSF or NHGRI. For proposals recommended for NHGRI, applicants will receive additional instructions from program staff on resubmitting applications per NIH guidelines. NHGRI is particularly interested in funding comprehensive proposals that are focused on the structure and biology of genomes and can demonstrate utility or relevance to human or disease-relevant model organisms. These proposals should also address priority areas established in the Institute’s 2020 Strategic Vision

Eligibility Information: While there is no limit on the number of proposals an organization may submit, a single researcher may only be designated as senior personnel on one letter of intent and one full proposal. NSF especially encourages proposals from EPSCoR jurisdictions.

Due Dates: Letters of intent are required and must be submitted by March 16, 2023. Full proposals are due May 11, 2023.

Award Information: This program will provide seven awards of $250,000 - $400,000 per year in direct costs for three years, with total NSF program funding of $10 million. NHGRI does not have set aside funds for this program and applications will compete with other submitted R01 proposals for funding.

Sources and additional information:

The full solicitation is available here.

The MFB program page is available here.

Funding Opportunity: NSF Releases Solicitation Incorporating Human Behavior in Epidemiological Models in Partnership with NIH

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have released a solicitation for the Incorporating Human Behavior in Epidemiological Models (IHBEM) program, which supports projects interdisciplinary research on social and behavioral aspects of epidemiological models.  Specifically, IHBEM involves the NSF Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS); Biological Sciences (BIO); and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE).  As the program seeks to facilitate the creation of robust modeling mechanisms, projects should ultimately inform public health policies and decision-making during emergencies to maximize the efficacy of interventions and improve health outcomes.  Proposals should incorporate meaningful contributions from the mathematical as well as the social and behavioral sciences through collaborations between two or more PIs or co-PIs.

This solicitation is the latest in a series of recent joint initiatives between NSF and NIH.  In January, the NIH National Cancer Institute and MPS issued a Dear Colleague Letter seeking to accelerate the interdisciplinary study of cancer as a living material.  In addition, earlier this month, NSF released a new solicitation for the Molecular Foundations of Biotechnology (MFB) program, with this year’s edition focused on RNA biotechnologies in partnership with the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). 

The IHBEM solicitation includes a focus on mentorship and workforce development, particularly encouraging training students and postdoctoral researchers at the intersection of mathematical and social, behavioral, and economic sciences.  Proposers should describe their plans to recruit, mentor, and retain trainees, and how they intend to broaden participation to demographics that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM.

As part of this program, NIDA particularly expresses interest in proposals focused on the health and social repercussions of drug use.  Similar to the most recent MFB solicitation, some proposals will be selected to be considered for funding by NIH, and those proposers will be invited to submit re-formatted applicants to NIH for review.

Eligibility Information: While there is no limit on the number of proposals an organization may submit, an individual may only be designated as PI or co-PI on one proposal.

Due Dates: Full proposals must be submitted by April 14, 2023.

Award Information: This program will provide 10-15 awards of up to $1 million for projects lasting three to four years.  A total of up to $5.5 million is available per year for new awards through this program, with up to $3.5 million from NSF and up to $2 million from NIH/NIDA.

Sources and additional information:

The Incorporating Human Behavior in Epidemiological Models (IHBEM) program page is available here.

The full solicitation can be found here

The accompanying announcement from NIH is available here.

Department of Energy Funding Updates

Recent and Upcoming Funding Opportunities

$200 million for Energy Earthshot Research Centers: Pre-proposals due April 11

  • DOE plans to fund up to 16 new multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary Centers.
  • Only DOE National Labs can lead proposals but are strongly encouraged to partner with research university, nonprofit and industry partners.
  • $3 million to $5 million per year for each center over four years.
  • The purpose would be to address research challenges of the six existing Energy Earthshots.
    • Teams would focus on energy-relevant research with a scope and complexity beyond what is possible in standard single investigator or small group awards.
    • The EERCs are intended to address research challenges at the interface of basic and applied research with a lot of input and direction from the applied energy offices and hence more attention to translational science.
  • Unlike Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), the EERCs would be jointly funded and managed by three Office of Science programs—Basic Energy Sciences (BES), Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) and the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, in addition to close coordination with the DOE applied energy offices.
  • The EERCs would also cover a much broader scope of scientific disciplines and activities than EFRCs, which are primarily focused on materials and chemistry research.
  • Strong emphasis on the use of innovative high-performance and scientific-computing techniques.

$40 million for the Accelerate Innovations in Emerging Technologies centers: Expected March/April 2023

Planned ARPA-E programs in the next six months:

  • Reactive carbon capture: fuel synthesis, carbon capture, and process engineering technologies to convert diffuse or point-source CO2 t0 high value chemical intermediates and/or fuel products. 
  • Marine carbon sensing: new technologies to measure and verify ocean carbon dioxide removal. 
  • Carbon farming: approaches to terrestrial ecosystems and bioeconomy supply chains for carbon dioxide removal, management, and sequestration. 
  • Undergrounding distribution power lines
  • Ultra-fast triggered devices: next-generation ultra-fast semiconductor devices for enhanced resiliency and reliability of power electronics systems ranging from kilowatts to gigawatts of power. 

$120 million for Energy Frontier Research Centers: Expected November 2023

Engagement Opportunity

Request for Information on National Labs as Catalysts of Regional Innovation: Response due March 28

  • The DOE Office of Technology Transitions and the Office of Science are seeking information on how the DOE national lab systems can strengthen place-based innovation.
  • Specifically, feedback is being sought about how DOE could potentially stimulate innovation in regions surrounding its national laboratories and sites by:
    • accelerating commercialization of breakthrough technologies,
    • driving development in the industrial and technology sectors of the future, such as innovations in advanced manufacturing and supply chains,
    • fostering sustainable and equitable economic growth in underinvested regions of the United States,
    • creating long-term high paying jobs in existing and new industries,
    • facilitating engagement and partnership with local and regional communities adjacent to DOE national laboratories and sites, and
    • training and educating both the current and future diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce.
  • DOE is interested in recommendations about new or ongoing activities that would benefit from additional support.
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