Developing a National Research Infrastructure for Neuroscience (NeuroNex)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced via a Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 16-047) its intention to foster the development of a national research infrastructure for neuroscience through a phased approach. The goal is to support collaborative and team science for achieving a comprehensive understanding of the brain.

Image of skull and brain model with text overlay including the name of the solicitation

As part of this effort, the NSF has created a new funding opportunity—Developing a National Research Infrastructure for Neuroscience (NeuroNex). This is a cross-directorate initiative of the Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Engineering (ENG), and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE).

The solicitation (NSF 16-569) calls for two types of project proposals:

(1) Neurotechnology Hubs: Projects that foster development and dissemination/deployment of innovative research resources and instrumentation, neuro-technologies, and behavioral paradigms that can be applied across the phylogenetic spectrum, while providing greater access to existing resources where possible and serving broad communities within the brain sciences; and

(2) Theory Teams:  Projects that foster theoretical approaches with the potential to reveal the neural underpinnings of behavior and cognition across organizational levels, scales of analysis, and/or a range of species.

Please consult the solicitation (NSF 16-569) for additional details about this funding opportunity. Contact information for cognizant program officers can be found on the program summary page and in the solicitation.

NeuroNex Informational Webinar: Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 1:00-3:00 PM EDT
The Webinar discussed the scope of the funding activity, pertinent review criteria, general guidelines for project proposals to this activity, and post-award conditions for cooperative agreements. Watch the webinar recording HERE.

Posted in Funding, Programs | Tagged , ,

IDBR: Information and Guidance for Providing Feedback

June 8, 2016

In BIO’s fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget request, plans were included regarding the evaluation of smaller Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) programs, such as the Instrument Development for Biological Research (IDBR) program, with the goal of informing the FY18 budget request. The BIO Directorate is currently performing an internal evaluation of DBI research resource programs, including IDBR. This internal evaluation is an opportunity to assess the important role of IDBR in supporting instrumentation and technology needs across a broad range of biological sciences.

The evaluation will be performed by an internal working group, comprising representatives from each of BIO’s divisions and NSF’s Office of Evaluation and Assessment. The internal evaluation will be completed in November, 2016; therefore, IDBR will not be accepting new project proposals in response to the current solicitation (NSF 13-561) in 2016.

The IDBR program welcomes helpful feedback from all stakeholders regarding the role of IDBR in supporting instrumentation and technology needs. In particular, the IDBR program welcomes responses to the following questions:

  • Is the breadth of instrumentation innovation currently supported by IDBR appropriate to address the biological sciences research community needs?  If there are gaps in instrumentation support, please provide examples.
  • How have innovations in instrumentation supported by the IDBR program impacted research outcomes in the community and catalyzed instrumentation technology innovation?
  • How can the program best enable dissemination and access to prototype instrumentation?
  • What other issues or metrics related to the IDBR program affect you as a stakeholder; e.g., access to instrumentation, dissemination of prototypes or instrumentation blueprints, societal benefits (such as environmental impacts, education/workforce development, and economic benefits), etc.?

Responses to these questions should be directed to dbi-idbr@nsf.gov. Thank you!

Posted in Funding, Programs | Tagged , ,

Announcement: CSBR Update

May 25, 2016

The National Science Foundation’s Assistant Director for the Directorate for Biological Sciences, Dr. Jim Olds, has shared an announcement regarding the Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR) program. The announcement can be found on the Directorate for Biological Sciences home page under “Special Announcements.”

 

Posted in Programs | Tagged ,

ADBC Projects: Budget Justification and Review

Are you preparing a project proposal for the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) program? Here we provide some information regarding ADBC budget justifications & decisions.

As you can see from the graph below, budget requests that have come in to the ADBC program have ranged from as small as $5,626 to as large as $3,907,600.  While there is no particular dollar amount that characterizes a successful ADBC project proposal, the ADBC Program expects proposals to put forth a well-justified and well-reasoned budget request to be competitive for funding.

Graph showing ADBC Proposal Budget Requests from 2011 to 2015

The ADBC program and reviewers recognize that the digitization of different types of information will have different costs. Here are some factors considered by the ADBC Program when reviewing a budget request for an ADBC proposal:

  • Does the PI make a well-reasoned argument for the cost of digitization based on the specimen preservation method (e.g., herbarium sheets, insect trays, fluid preserved specimens)?
  • What aspect of digitization is the PI proposing; in other words, will the project involve 2D or 3D imaging of specimens, label capture, digitization of field notes and other ancillary data, or georeferencing? This information will aid in the justification of the budget amount.
  • There is also the expectation that new projects will build upon existing efficiencies or improve upon methods or workflows that have already been developed by others. For example, does the proposed project leveraged resources from existing Thematic Collection Networks (TCNs) or incorporated lessons learned from similar efforts? Have others digitized this particular organism? If so, will those existing data be leveraged for the proposed project?

If you found this information useful, stay tuned to DBInfo for more blog posts about DBI programs and helpful tips about proposal preparation.

Posted in Funding, Programs | Tagged , ,

CSBR: Information and Guidance for Providing Feedback

April 4, 2016 [Updated April 27 & June 8, 2016]

In March, 2016, it was announced that the Collections in Support of Biological Research (CSBR) program within the Directorate for Biological Sciences’ (BIO) Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) will not be accepting new project proposals in 2016. Proposals submitted by the September, 2015, CSBR solicitation deadline and recommended for funding will be funded and supported for the duration of the award along with continuing increments for prior awards. The CSBR program has been placed on a biennial competition schedule as of 2017 and new project proposals will be considered in the next cycle. Additional guidance regarding potential opportunities for support for emergency circumstances and priorities for support will be provided by October 1, 2016 in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter and an update on the CSBR web page.

In BIO’s fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget request, plans were included regarding the evaluation of smaller DBI programs, such as CSBR, with the goal of informing the FY18 budget request. The BIO Directorate is currently performing an internal evaluation of DBI research resource programs, including CSBR, which will be completed in November, 2016. This internal evaluation is an opportunity to assess the important role of CSBR in the context of the Postdoctoral Collections Fellowship program and the Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program, which includes iDigBio. The evaluation will be performed by an internal working group, comprising representatives from each of BIO’s divisions and NSF’s Office of Evaluation and Assessment.

The biological collections and research communities have provided very helpful feedback on the CSBR program, and this input will be analyzed and used to assess program needs.

The CSBR program continues to welcome community response to the following questions:

  • Is the scope of collection support provided by CSBR adequate and appropriate to address the research and education community needs? If there are gaps, what are these and how should they be addressed?
  • What is known about how the collections-related programs (CSBR, ADBC, and the Collections track of PRFB) leverage one another (anecdotal evidence is welcome!)?
  • What are the impacts of the CSBR program that are innovative and/or transformative in understanding unanswered questions in biology or that significantly impact education or outreach?
  • Are there other issues or metrics that should be considered during evaluation of the CSBR program; e.g., encouraging data publications that cite specimens, societal benefits (such as environmental impacts, education/workforce development, and economic benefits), etc.?

Responses to these questions should be directed to DBICSBR@nsf.gov.  We have already received feedback from many of you, which will be incorporated into the evaluation, and those who have already commented should feel free to submit additional information in response to the questions above.  Thank you for your interest and support!

April 27, 2016: Thank you for your feedback. At this time, comments will no longer be registered on the blog. Please direct future comments to the email address provided above. Please see our blog policy regarding moderation of blog comments.

Posted in Funding, Programs | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

What is Biological Infrastructure?

Biological infrastructure, put plainly, is the infrastructure that supports biology. As such, biological infrastructure encompasses many different things. In terms of resources for research, it can include biological informatics, cyberinfrastructure, museum collections, living stock collections, field stations, marine labs, and instrumentation, all of which act to support and advance biological research. But biological infrastructure also relates to the human resources that make up the scientific workforce in the field of biology. The Division of Biological Infrastructure supports the development of this workforce by supporting fellowships for postdoctoral research, research experiences for undergraduates, and research coordination networks in undergraduate biology education. Finally, biological infrastructure also includes biology centers and other mid- to large- scale infrastructure, existing either physically, virtually, or both, that address a particular scientific and educational mission and/or are designed to meet a particular community need in the biological sciences.

To learn more about the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) visit our About page and explore the Directorate for Biological Sciences’ interactive organizational chart.

BIO organizational chart

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,