Targeted Grants in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems

The Simons Foundation invites applications for the Targeted Grants in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems (MMLS) program.

Rationale: The program is intended to foster a culture of theory-experiment collaboration similar to that prevailing in the physical sciences by supporting the development of mathematical models that explain classes of experimental results and suggest new directions for experiment, as well as research aimed at testing theoretical ideas and expanding their reach.

Basis for Awards: The program aims to support research in the life sciences that breaks new conceptual or theoretical ground and relates closely to experiment, for example, by introducing new and experimentally testable concepts or by developing models that can explain data and motivate new classes of experiments. Successful proposals will typically involve both new theoretical approaches and a direct interaction with biological experiment. A broad spectrum of research areas will be considered, ranging from cellular-level issues of organization, regulation, signaling and dynamics through morphogenesis to the properties of organisms and ecology, as well as neuroscience and evolution; however, preference will be given to areas in which modeling approaches are less established, and, for this reason, bioinformatics and genomics will fall outside the scope of the program.

Level and Duration of Funding: A typical Targeted Grant in MMLS is made for up to three years, normally at a level of up to $200,000 per year, including 20 percent in indirect costs to the institution, for a Principal Investigator (PI) or a team of two PIs. The award is given to and administered through the institution at which the main PI is appointed.

Appropriate Expenses: The funding provided under a Targeted Grant in MMLS may support research expenses in the following categories:

  • Up to one month per year of salary and related benefits for each PI on the grant consistent with the foundation’s policy on maximum allowable salary.
  • Salary support and related benefits, including tuition support, for postdoctoral, graduate or undergraduate research assistants.
  • Travel between institutions (if the PIs are at more than one institution).
  • Travel to appropriate professional/scientific meetings directly relevant to the research supported by the grant, up to $2000 per year per PI.
  • Laboratory supplies: purchases of equipment over $5,000 require approval in advance by the foundation.

Indirect costs are limited to 20 percent of the modified total direct costs, with the following exceptions: equipment, tuition and any subcontracts with budgets including indirect expenses. Indirect costs paid to a subcontractor may not exceed 20 percent of the direct costs paid to the subcontractor. Indirect costs on equipment costing up to $5,000 are permissible.

Additional funding policies are available on the Policies and Procedures page.

Expenditures in other expense categories may be possible but must be approved in advance by the foundation.

Unspent Funds: The foundation’s intent is that awards be administered to allow the maximum flexibility in pursuit of scientific goals. Unspent funds may be carried over from year to year during the term of the grant, but no more than one month of salary can be paid in any calendar year. Requests for no-cost extensions will be considered.

Reporting: Annual financial and progress reports are due within 60 days following the end of each grant year, summarizing the research achieved, people supported and publications produced, and providing a detailed itemization of how the funds were expended. Within 60 days after the completion of the grant, a final report is required. The final report may reference the previously prepared annual progress reports.

Number of Awards: The foundation expects to make four Targeted Grants in MMLS each year.

Eligibility: Eligibility is restricted to scientists holding faculty or equivalent positions at U.S. or Canadian institutions with a Ph.D. program.

How to Apply:

Letter of Intent (LOI): Applicants should submit an LOI through proposalCENTRAL. LOIs are due by September 30, 2014, at midnight EST and should consist of the following:

  • A project narrative (three-page limit, plus up to one page of references), outlining the topic, scientific approach and any relevant preliminary results. If there are two PIs at different institutions, the project narrative should explain the logistics of the collaboration. Narratives should be single-spaced and in typeface no smaller than 10-point font. Margins, in all directions, must be at least ½ inch.
  • An NIH- or NSF-style biosketch, a list of up to ten relevant publications and a statement of current and pending support for each PI involved.

For projects where there is more than one PI at different institutions, the LOI should be submitted by the PI designated as the main PI and his/her institution.

Notification of the status of the LOI will be sent by November 30, 2014.

Full Proposal: A review of the LOI may lead to a request for a full proposal, which will be due by January 29, 2015, at midnight EST, and must be submitted via proposalCENTRAL by the main PI and his/her institution.

Full Proposal Requirements:

  • A description of the planned research, including a summary of the scientific questions and research goals, an outline of the relevant previous work of each PI and others involved in the proposal, preliminary results (if relevant) and, if more than one PI is involved, an explanation of how the research of the different PIs will be coordinated.
  • A detailed three-year budget and justification. In projects where there is more than one PI at different institutions, the budget for the second PI should be submitted as a subcontract.
  • An NIH- or NSF-style biosketch, publication list and statement of current and pending support for each PI.
  • The signature page, signed as required.

The summary of the scientific questions and research goals and the description of the planned research should not, in total, exceed 12 pages, plus up to one page of references and one page of figures. Full proposal documents should be single-spaced in typeface no smaller than 10-point font. Margins, in all directions, must be at least ½ inch.

Funding decisions will be announced by May 1, 2015, and funding will begin on July 1, 2015.

Please coordinate submission of the letter of intent and full proposal with the appropriate officials in accordance with institution policies. See the Application Instructions for further information.

Important Dates:

Full Proposal
Start Date
July 1,
September 30,
November 30,
January 29,
May 1,
July 1,

Contact Information:

mps(replace this with the @ sign)

Elizabeth Roy
Program Manager, Mathematics and the Physical Sciences
eroy(replace this with the @ sign)

Further Information: