The FY 2002 Budget Request for the Integrative Biology
and Neuroscience (IBN) Subactivity is $112.64 million, an increase
of $980,000, or 0.9 percent, over the FY 2001 Current Plan of $111.66
(Millions of Dollars)
& Neuroscience Research Projects
Research supported by the Integrative Biology and
Neuroscience Subactivity (IBN) seeks to understand the living organism
- plant, animal, and microbe - as a unit of biological organization.
IBN provides support for studies of the mechanisms by which organisms
develop, grow, reproduce, regulate their physiological activity,
and respond to their environment. The integration of molecular,
subcellular, cellular, and functional genomics approaches is essential
to a full understanding of the development, function, neurobiology,
and behavior of organisms. IBN supports the development and use
of a wide diversity of organisms to assist both in identifying unifying
principles common to all living beings and in documenting the variety
of mechanisms that have evolved in specific organisms. Genome-enabled
science and systems biology will complement other strategic approaches
to investigate how organisms carry out basic biological processes.
Example: The evolution of color patterns in animals
is poorly understood because it is difficult to conduct evolutionary
experiments in the laboratory. IBN funds a project that uses live
Blue Jays trained to search computer displays for the presence
of digital "moths". The moths exist in an artificial
population maintained in computer memory, a "virtual ecology,"
with a genetic system derived from the genetics of real moths.
The virtual moths breed and evolve through successive generations
based on whether the live Jays detect them when they are displayed
on screen. Changes in color patterns over time mimic many of the
evolved features of color patterns in real insects. In addition
to advancing understanding of the complex dynamics involved in
predator-prey interactions over evolutionary time, these studies
will also test the validity of virtual ecology for studying evolutionary
dynamics, potentially adding a powerful new technique to the scientific
study of organic evolution.
The FY 2002 Budget Request includes funding for the
"2010 Project": IBN is participating
in an important research priority to understand the function of
all genes in Arabidopsis within their cellular, organismal
and evolutionary context by the year 2010. As part of the "2010
Project," IBN will focus on the support of integrative approaches
to the study of plant form and function at the whole plant, organ,
and tissue levels of organization. Integrated studies will yield
information and models that can provide insight into the interaction
of biological, physical, and social systems.
Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE):
IBN is participating in the BE priority area to encourage biologists
to collaborate with mathematical modelers and computational scientists
to achieve a truly integrative understanding of living organisms
in their environment. For example, integrative analyses that capitalize
on mathematical modeling will enable the understanding of behavior
from molecular and genetic studies to the understanding of neurological
function, as well as provide insight into how natural selection
acts on individual organisms.
Genome-Enabled Science: Biologists are
assimilating a new paradigm. After a generation of characterizing
genes one or a few at a time, biologists can now access the complete
genome sequence of specific organisms, or a proxy thereof, in
powerful electronic databases. Access to this information, and
new tools that exploit it, will profoundly alter the ways in which
we pose and answer questions in biology. IBN will support research
that integrates genomics-based approaches into the study of whole
organisms that cross heretofore traditional levels of analysis
to address basic physiological or functional questions.
Systems Biology: An area of emerging opportunities
in IBN is integrative research that includes close linkages between
theory, modeling, observation, and experimental studies. The recent
explosion of novel data provides the opportunity to investigate
mechanistic biology of the whole organism in its environment and
to study biological processes not only at individual scales but
also across scales. IBN support will focus on the integration
of these vast new resources in order to understand how organisms
function and develop.