Understanding the Rules of Life: Microbiome Theory and Mechanisms


Funding Opportunity ID: 322253
Opportunity Number: 20-513
Opportunity Title: Understanding the Rules of Life: Microbiome Theory and Mechanisms
Opportunity Category: Discretionary
Opportunity Category Explanation:
Funding Instrument Type: Grant
Category of Funding Activity: Science and Technology and other Research and Development
Category Explanation:
CFDA Number(s): 47.041
Eligible Applicants: Others (see text field entitled “Additional Information on Eligibility” for clarification)
Additional Information on Eligibility: *Who May Submit Proposals: Proposals may only be submitted by the following: -Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities. -Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) – Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members.Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
Agency Code: NSF
Agency Name: National Science Foundation
Posted Date: Nov 05, 2019
Close Date: Mar 02, 2020
Last Updated Date: Nov 05, 2019
Award Ceiling: $0
Award Floor: $0
Estimated Total Program Funding: $15,000,000
Expected Number of Awards: 12
Description: In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of "Big Ideas," 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Division of Emerging Frontiers in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO/EF), once received, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors. Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL): PredictingPhenotypeis one of NSF’s 10 big ideas (https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/) and is focused on predicting the set of observable characteristics (phenotypes) based on the genetic makeup of the individual and the nature of its environment. The Understanding the Rules of Life: Microbiome Theory and Mechanisms (URoL:MTM) program is an integrative collaborationacross Directorates and Offices within the National Science Foundation. The objective of URoL:MTM is to understand and establish the theory and mechanisms that govern the structure and function of microbiomes, a collection of microbes in a specific habitat/environment. This may include but is not limited to host-associated microbiomes, such as those with humans and other organisms, where i) the microbiome impacts host physiology, behavior, development, and fitness; ii) the host influences the metabolic activity, dynamics and evolution of the microbiome, and iii) the environment (biological, chemical, physical, and social) influences and is influenced by both the host and the microbiome. Recent progress has transformed our ability to identify and catalogue the microbes present in a given environment and measure multiple aspects ofbiological, chemical, physical, and social environments that affect the interactions among the members of the microbiome, the host, and/or habitat. Much descriptive and correlative work has been performed on many microbiome systems, particularly those in the human, soil, aquatic, and built environments. This research has resulted in new hypotheses about the microbiome’s contributions to potential system function or dysfunction. The current challenge is to integrate the wide range of accumulated data and information and build on them to develop new causal/mechanistic models or theories of interactions and interdependencies across scales and systems. Elucidating these relationships informs our understanding of the Rules of Life – the theoretical constructs and models that explain and predict the characteristics of living systems, spanning from molecular and sub-cellular components, to cells, whole organisms, communities, and biomes. TheURoL:MTM program invites integrated, interdisciplinary proposals that develop theoretical predictive frameworks with well-designed experimental and/or computational approaches to generate and test hypotheses about the causal relationships within the microbiome, and among the microbiome, host, and environment. Howthese relationships affectrobustness, resilience,and adaptability of individual organisms, populations, and communities are also of interest. Projects may apply existing ecological and evolutionary theory or develop new experimental, computational, or mathematical tools, models, and theory to: i) explain function and interactions in natural, experimental, and model microbiomes; ii) elucidate the molecular mechanisms that underlie communication between the host and the microbiome and among the members of the microbiome; and/or iii) comparatively analyze microbiomes to discover emergent properties that provide insight into the behavior of living systems. Successful projectswill contribute to a portfolio of research that identifies general principles ("rules") that underlie a wide spectrum of biological phenomena across spatial, temporal (from sub-second to geologic), and/orcomplexity (molecular, cellular, organismal, population) scales. URoL:MTM projects must integrate perspectives and research approaches from more than one research discipline (e.g.,biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geosciences, mathematics, physics, social and behavioral sciences).They must also incorporate best practices regarding protocol documentation, sample selection, data collection and analysis, model/algorithm development, as well as data sharing and accessibility. The interdisciplinary scope of URoL:MTM projects should provide unique training and outreach opportunities to train the next generation of scientists in a diversity of scientific approaches and to engage society more generally. URoL:MTM supports basic science research projects of different scales and scope. The URoL:MTM Program offers two submission tracks: Track 1 for projects with a total budget of up to $500,000 and an award duration of up to 3 years and Track 2 for projects with a total budget of up to $3,000,000 and award duration of up to 5 years.
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