NSF-Simons Collaboration on a National Institute for Theory and Mathematics in Biology (NITMB)

Open
Preliminary Proposal Deadline
(by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
Important Dates
  • Preliminary Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
  • Full Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
Important Dates
  • Preliminary Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
  • Full Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
Contact Info

The National Science Foundation Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (NSF/MPS) and for Biological Sciences (NSF/BIO) and the Simons Foundation Division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences (SF/MPS) shall jointly sponsor a new research institute to facilitate collaborations among groups of mathematicians (including statisticians and computational scientists) and biologists.

Rationale

The purpose of this program is to enable innovative research at the intersection of mathematical and biological sciences, to facilitate the development of new biology-inspired mathematical theories, to promote methodologies and innovative modeling approaches, and to advance the understanding of challenging biological problems. The institute should promote interdisciplinary education and workforce training between these two disciplines.

Funding

NSF and the Simons Foundation have each committed $25,000,000 to support one institute over five years, with an anticipated extension for another five-year period at the same funding level.

How to Apply & Budget Guidelines

Letters of Intent and Full Proposals must be submitted via the NSF as outlined in the program solicitation. An applicant must have submitted a Preliminary Proposal to be able to submit a Full Proposal.

Awards will be made jointly with the Simons Foundation. All application materials should be submitted to NSF. NSF will share all submitted materials with the Simons Foundation.

Half of the proposal budget must be prepared following the Simons Foundation’s grant policies, including the indirect costs policy.

The funding provided by the Simons Foundation may be used to support institute expenses in the following categories:

  • Salary support and related benefits for institute leadership.
  • Salary support and related benefits, including tuition support, for staff/research scientists and postdoctoral, graduate and/or undergraduate research assistants.
  • Scientific travel by institute members per the institution’s travel policies. International travel is permitted. Parking, hotel, taxi, registration and other related travel and conference costs are allowable.
  • Conferences and working meetings and scientific programs and workshops appropriate to the needs of the institute.
  • Support for visitors and collaborators, including domestic and international travel, meals and lodging expenses.
  • Research and computing equipment, supplies and other expenses directly related to the institute, including publication costs.
  • Administrative or clerical services integral to the institute, provided that the effort of the individuals involved can be specifically identified with the institute and thatsuch costs are not also recovered as indirect costs.
  • Scientific Advisory Board services and related meetings.
  • Other expenses related to the support and administration of the institute (e.g., web design).

For further guidance, please see the foundation’s grant award policies.

Applicants are required to submit a detailed, five-year budget and justification for the Simons Foundation portion of the award. The budget should reflect a ramp-up of the institute’s activities during Years 1 and 2, with a full complement of activities implemented no later than the beginning of Year 3. These budgets must be submitted using the Simons Foundation budget template. The “Complete 1st-Detail Yr1” worksheet should be completed first. The “Budget Summary” worksheet will auto-populate with the amounts provided in the corresponding worksheets. The consortium and contractual costs in the detail yearly budgets will auto-populate with the total costs in the sub-budget yearly worksheets. Please edit only fields highlighted in green. For budgets with subcontracts, a subcontract budget and budget justification for each subcontract must be included (if there is more than one subcontract on a budget, please contact the foundation for a modified template). Please note that fields should be completed as appropriate and should not be left blank where information is requested. Insufficient budgets and justifications may result in the proposal not being considered further.

Submitted proposal budgets must include the entire budget: summary, detail, justification and subcontract (if applicable) worksheets.

Reporting

An annual progress report will be due to the NSF as outlined in the program solicitation. The Simons Foundation requires the submission of annual progress reports and financial statements as outlined in our grant policies.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Many of the greatest ideas and discoveries come from a diverse mix of minds, backgrounds and experiences. The Simons Foundation is committed to grantmaking that inspires and supports greater diversity and inclusiveness by cultivating a funding environment that ensures representation of all identities and differences and equitable access to information and resources for all applicants and grantees.

The Simons Foundation provides equal opportunities to all applicants for funding without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic disposition, neurodiversity, disability, veteran status or any other protected category under federal, state and local law. The foundation also funds programs directed at supporting scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds or underrepresented groups, often working closely with professional societies and other funding agencies.

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Important Dates
  • Preliminary Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
  • Full Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
Contact Info

Letters of Intent and Full Proposals must be submitted via the NSF as outlined in the program solicitation. Awards will be made jointly with the Simons Foundation. All application materials should be submitted to NSF. NSF will share all submitted materials with the Simons Foundation.

Half of the proposal budget must be prepared following Simons Foundation’s grant policies, which includes the foundation’s indirect costs policy (20 percent). For further guidance, please see the foundation’s grant award policies on our website.

Applicants will be required to submit a detailed, five-year budget and justification for the Simons Foundation portion of the award. For budgets with subcontracts, a subcontract budget and budget justification for each subcontract must be included. These budgets must be submitted using the Simons Foundation budget template.

Recommended for Funding proposals will be resubmitted by the PIs to the Simons Foundation, in accordance with instructions given by the Simons Foundation Program Officer.

Important Dates
  • Preliminary Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
  • Full Proposal Deadline
    (by 5 p.m. submitter's local time)
Contact Info

Heitsch, Christine — PI/Director
Lu, Hang — Co-I/Associate Director
NSF-Simons Southeast Center for Mathematics and Biology
Georgia Institute of Technology

This award will establish the NSF-Simons Southeast Center for Mathematics and Biology, a regional center with national impact whose defining mission is connecting mathematical theory with biosystems data. The core center activity is catalyzing new research collaborations at the math-bio interface with a collective focus on understanding emergent properties at critical genome-to-phenome junctures. This is complemented by a strong interdisciplinary training component, with an emphasis on enabling trainees to initiate new, transdisciplinary collaborations as they progress in their research careers, supplemented by educational outreach and convening research activities. In these ways, SCMB is addressing the challenge of building research capacity at the math-bio interface by driving discoveries in mathematics and biology that propel both fields forward into new territory.

The center recognizes that diverse sources of data require diverse theoretical approaches and that novel data structures acquired from biological systems spur mathematical growth. Moreover, this center has identified its fundamental challenge as developing math-bio research collaborations that advance the frontiers of both disciplines. By actively matching experimentalists and mathematicians, the center is catalyzing new math-bio collaborations who will mentor interdisciplinary trainees with an emphasis on building interactional expertise. Educational outreach will build workforce capacity by priming the math-bio pipeline and convening activities will establish a national center of gravity in the southeast for the mathematics of complex biosystems.

 

Murray, Andrew — PI/Chair and Center Director
NSF-Simons Center for Mathematical and Statistical Analysis of Biology
Harvard University

The NSF-Simons Center for Mathematical and Statistical Analysis of Biology at Harvard University aims to use mathematics and statistics to understand biology well enough for scientists to make accurate predictions of how organisms, from simple bacteria and yeasts to mammals, respond to changes in their genes and their environments. The center’s research will focus on three areas: how cells and organisms make decisions that change their behavior and their fate; how the sophisticated structures, from outer coating of viruses and the machinery that segregates a cell’s chromosomes to the structure of embryos and organs, can assemble without blueprints or explicit instructions; and how organisms change their structures and activities to deal with changes in their environments over timescales that range from minutes to millennia. In each of these areas, the center will bring together mathematicians and biologists who want to work together to reach a deep understanding of biology and mathematics, with the hope that the mathematicians will help to create deeper and more general understanding of biological problems, and the biologists will stimulate the mathematicians into inventing new tools in mathematics, statistics and computation that can be applied to problems outside as well as inside biology. The hope is that these close interactions will produce a new generation of scientists who see themselves as being mathematicians and biologists equally and thus will be equipped to tackle a variety of problems in both subjects that cannot yet be solved.

 

Nie, Qing – PI/Director
NSF-Simons Center for Multiscale Cell Fate Research
University of California, Irvine

A new NSF-Simons Center for Multiscale Cell Fate Research will be established at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), to provide a stimulating and empowering intellectual and physical environment for innovative team research at the interface between mathematics and biology. A team of mathematical scientists and biologists at UCI will develop novel mathematical, computational and statistical tools to analyze cell fate through a multiscale lens. The center will carry out a coherent program for community building, interdisciplinary training and workforce development, and diversity enhancement to expand the mathematics-biology interface and to promote the convergence of mathematical and biological sciences. The center will produce cohorts of interconnected young researchers and will nationally seed the next generation’s laboratories. The knowledge gained will create new, multiscale mathematics for analyzing big data and modeling complex systems, with broader applications to regenerative medicine, embryonic development and birth defects.

The NSF-Simons Center for Multiscale Cell Fate Research at UCI will establish new understanding of mechanisms and principles of cell fate control through investigation of emerging behavior of cells across scales. Three concerted efforts will be made to enhance overall capacity of research and training at the interface between mathematics and biology: 1) expanding mathematical sciences proximal to the biology interface, 2) connecting mathematical scientists across the spectrum and 3) fostering mathematical scientists’ ability to connect directly to experiments.

 

Carthew, Richard W. — PI/Center Director
NSF-Simons Center for Quantitative Biology
Northwestern University

This NSF-Simons Center for Quantitative Biology at Northwestern University will catalyze quantitative approaches at the intersection of the mathematical sciences and developmental biology. These will further our understanding of the biological mechanisms and principles associated with growth and development. The center’s focus is on four interrelated research project areas selected to elucidate different aspects of growth and development. Each project integrates common and shared hypothesis-driven mathematical modeling, data-driven mathematical analysis, as well as advanced imaging, genomics and metabolomics tools to explore biological processes across time, space and extrinsic variables. At the core of the mathematical approach is an emphasis on the dynamics associated with the developmental program, how this sequence of events maintains robustness in the presence of noise, and an intimate connection between mathematical modeling and analysis and state-of-the-art experimental investigations. The center will engage students and investigators across this multidisciplinary spectrum. Graduate, undergraduate and postdoctoral trainees will be embedded in shared mathematical and biological environments, intimately learning how other groups work, think and communicate. The center will build interdisciplinary capacity through a visiting scholars program, a named Fellows program, a pilot project program, a middle-school-science-club learning module, workshops and training courses. It will advance knowledge in biology and the mathematical sciences, generate new conceptual models explaining development and growth, and develop new investigators that are experienced in both fields.

The center will transform our understanding of organismal growth and development through quantitative approaches uniquely combining three fundamental mathematical areas: dynamical systems theory, stochastic processes and dimension reduction. New statistical methodologies and methods for combining multiple types of mathematical approaches will be tested and validated. New biological datasets, conceptual models and mathematical models that will transform our current understanding of growth and development will be made available to the broader research. Furthermore, it will promote interdisciplinary education and workforce training at the intersection of mathematical sciences and biology, scientific outreach to the underserved K-12 education community, multiple strategies to foster recruitment of mathematical scientists into biology, and interdisciplinary training for center trainees and visiting scholars.

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