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The FY 2004 Budget Request for the Integrative Biology and Neuroscience (IBN) Subactivity is $103.38 million, an increase of $4.65 million, or 4.7%, from the FY 2003 Request of $98.73 million.

Integrative Biology and Neuroscience Funding
(Dollars in Millions)
FY 2002
FY 2003
FY 2004
Integrative Biology & Neuroscien Reasearch Projects
Total, IBN

Research supported by the Integrative Biology and Neuroscience Subactivity seeks to understand how complex living organisms, such as plants, animals, and microbes, work. IBN researchers study 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 provides insight into the development, functioning, and behavior of organisms in both laboratory and natural settings. In addition, the development and use of a wide diversity of organisms as biological models contributes to identifying unifying principles common to all organisms and documents the variety of mechanisms that have evolved in specific organisms.

IBN supports research whose goal is to understand life at both its most fundamental level and in all its complexity. Such research requires an integrated approach that utilizes exciting advances in genomics, proteomics, informatics, computer science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering. In FY 2004, core activities in the IBN Subactivity are increased by $4.65 million. IBN will emphasize 21st Century Biology projects that are multidimensional, multidisciplinary, integrative and data-driven, to understand the development, physiology, neurobiology, and behavior of living organisms.

Highlights of areas supported:

Characterization of biological systems has reached an unparalleled level of detail. To organize quantities of data and achieve integrative understanding of fundamental life processes, it is imperative that powerful computational approaches be applied. IBN supports research that utilizes advanced computational approaches and tools to understand biological systems in all their complexity. Computational biology deals with two pressing needs - the management and the analysis and interpretation of biological information. Computational biology is an important component of 21st Century biological research.

Biologists collaborating with computer scientists are using advanced information technology to determine the genetic basis of drought stress in loblolly pine and Arabidopsis. A software system has been designed that stores, mines, and analyzes microarray data. This system is being expanded to process other types of data thereby providing an automated means for merging new and existing data and identifying patterns of responses. A new method for determining relationships in multidimensional data, Inductive Logic Programming, will be used to find associations between gene expression patterns and responses to stressful stimuli. The software will also support statistical methods for clustering gene expression data.

One benefit of having the Arabidopsis genome completely sequenced is that researchers can now study the multiple ways that flowering plants and their pollinators interact. One well-known mechanism for long- and mid-range attraction of pollinators to plants is floral scent. Research enabled by Arabidopsis genome data is revealing the complexity of the floral scent system, including the genes that control scent compound synthesis, the interactions of the flowers with the pollinating insects, and how scent and pollination systems evolve over time. Since many important crop plants are insect pollinated, results from these studies that lead to improvements in crop management can have important economic benefit.

Although the science of aeronautics is used to design airliners, space shuttles and stealth fighters, scientists are only just beginning to understand the aerodynamic mechanisms that enable tiny insects to fly and maneuver. Recent discoveries used a variety of experimental and theoretical techniques to construct a comprehensive theory of animal flight. The techniques include three-dimensional high-speed videography tocapture the complex wing motions of tiny fruit flies as they actively steer and maneuver. The research also employs a giant robotic model of flapping insect wings, immersed in a 3-ton tank of mineral oil. By 'replaying' the wing and body motion of real insects on the large robot, the researchers directly measure the flows and forces created by flapping wings. This makes it possible to determine not simply how insects manage to stay in the air, but how they carefully manipulate aerodynamic forces to actively steer and maneuver.

By providing experimental verification of the solutions to complicated flow problems, this research will help mathematicians around the world improve the accuracy of their computer models. Also, knowledge gathered in this study on the aerodynamics of flapping wings will provide new and creative design concepts for the aeronautics industry.