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, a joint endeavor of the foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences and Life Sciences divisions.

Rationale: The Targeted Grants in the MMLS 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 research and experimentation aimed at testing theoretical ideas and expanding their reach.

Basis for Awards: The Targeted Grant in MMLS 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 typically involve both new theoretical approaches and a direct interaction with a biological experiment. A broad spectrum of research areas will be considered, ranging from cellular-level issues of organization, regulation, signaling, and morphogenic dynamics 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. For this reason, bioinformatics- and genomics-related proposals typically fall outside the scope of the program. Autism and psychology related proposals will not be accepted. Because the intent is to support basic research in the life sciences, proposals aimed specifically at human health issues will typically not be supported.

Level and Duration of Funding: A typical Targeted Grant in MMLS is awarded for up to three years, normally at a level of up to $200,000 per year, including 20 percent in indirect costs, for a principal investigator (PI) or a team of two PIs. Although the budget is fixed, the foundation will accept proposals with more than two PIs if the justification is warranted. The award is given to and administered through the institution at which the main PI is appointed.

Allowable Expenses:

  • Up to one month per year of salary and related benefits for each PI on the grant.
  • 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 $2,000 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.

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

Unspent Funds: A carry-forward request is required only if the amount exceeds $20,000 of the previous year’s funding and is due at least 30 days prior to the end date of the funding year. Any unspent salary and fringe benefit funds at the end of the funding year must be returned to the foundation within 60 days.

Unspent funds at the end of the grant must be returned to the foundation unless express permission is obtained for a specified future use. 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.

Eligibility: Eligibility is restricted to scientists holding faculty, or equivalent, positions at U.S. or Canadian institutions with a Ph.D. program in their department. Applicants must be able to supervise Ph.D. students at their universities. Funded collaborators must be at U.S. or Canadian institutions. Unfunded collaborators outside the United States or Canada are allowed. In appropriate circumstances, the foundation may allow co-PIs from institutions without a Ph.D. program.

A PI is not eligible to hold a Simons Fellowship or Simons Investigator award for the duration of his/her Targeted Grant in MMLS.

There is no limit to the number of applications per individual.

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

How to Apply: Please coordinate submission of the letter of intent and full proposal with the appropriate officials in accordance with institution policies. Please refer to the Application Instructions for further information on and requirements for submitting an application.

Letter of Intent (LOI): Applicants should submit an LOI through proposalCENTRAL (https://proposalcentral.altum.com/default.asp). LOIs are due by September 30, 2015, at midnight EST.

For projects with PIs at different institutions, the LOI should be submitted by the PI designated as the main PI and his/her institution.

LOI Requirements Include:

  • A project narrative (three-page limit, plus up to one page for references and one page for figures), signed by the PI on letterhead, 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.
  • An NIH- or NSF-style biosketch for all PIs and co-PIs involved in the proposal, which should include:
    • Information about professional preparation, positions held, and honors and awards,
    • A list of current and former collaborators, postdoctoral fellows supervised, and Ph.D. students trained within the past five years,
    • A list of up to ten relevant publications.
  • Statement of current and pending support for all PIs and co-PIs involved in the proposal. NIH or NSF format is sufficient.

Notification of the status of the LOI will be sent by November 30, 2015.

Full Proposal:
A review of the LOI may lead to a request for a full proposal, which will be due by January 28, 2016, at midnight EST, and must be submitted via proposalCENTRAL by the main PI and his/her institution.

NOTE: Your submitted LOI will remain in the IN PROGRESS queue of the MANAGE PROPOSALS tab in proposalCENTRAL. If your LOI is approved, you will be able to access the full proposal application under this IN PROGRESS queue. If the LOI status changes to LOI: APPROVED, you may click the EDIT button to gain access to the full application. Please refer to the Application Instructions for further information.

Full Proposal Requirements Include:

  • 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. 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 for references and one page for figures.
  • 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 for all key personnel directly involved in the proposal, which should include:
    • Information about professional preparation, positions held, and honors and awards,
    • A list of current and former collaborators, postdoctoral fellows supervised, and Ph.D. students trained within the past five years,
    • A list of up to ten relevant publications.
  • Statement of current and pending support for all key personnel directly involved in the proposal. NIH or NSF format is sufficient.
  • 501(c)(3) equivalency determination letter from the IRS for international institutions.

Funding decisions will be announced by May 1, 2016, and funding will begin on July 1, 2016.

Important Dates:

Application
Available
LOI
Deadline
LOI
Notification
Full Proposal
Deadline
Award
Notification
Award
Start Date
July 1,
2015
September 30,
2015
November 30,
2015
January 28,
2016
May 1,
2016
July 1,
2016

Contact Information:
mps(replace this with the @ sign)simonsfoundation.org

Elizabeth Roy
Program Manager, Mathematics and the Physical Sciences
212-524-6966
eroy(replace this with the @ sign)simonsfoundation.org

Further Information: