INTERAGENCY ANNOUNCEMENT OF OPPORTUNITIES IN

METABOLIC ENGINEERING

NSF 98-49

 

 

 

 

Introduction

This Announcement describes a collaborative effort among the Department Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation. A parallel funding effort by the National Institutes of Health for Metabolic Engineering is referenced below under ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES. The intent of this Inter-Agency Announcement is to:

1. Introduce an Inter-Agency collaborative R&D effort in the area of Metabolic Engineering as coordinated through the National Science and Technology Council. Six Agencies will make available up to $2.6M annually from current research funding (including agency in-kind support ie, equipment, laboratory space, personnel time, materials, etc.) in support of this Announcement. There will be annual competitions to support new Metabolic Engineering projects over the next five years. The parallel effort at NIH provided $1.4M of support for Metabolic Engineering in FY 1997.

2. Draw attention to federal R&D interests and opportunities in Metabolic Engineering.

Background

The annual Federal R&D effort of approximately $70 Billion is coordinated through the four committees of the National Science and Technology Council chaired by the President. One of these committees is the Committee on Science, which deals primarily with basic research, including responsibilities to provide stewardship for Federal expenditures on biotechnology and to provide guidance and policy for the national effort in this area. This is done through the Subcommittee on Biotechnology of the Committee on Science.

The Subcommittee on Biotechnology is composed of Federal research scientists and managers from all of the agencies supporting biotechnology research. Recently, the Subcommittee on Biotechnology released the report "Biotechnology for the 21st Century: New Horizons," that identifies research priorities and opportunities in biotechnology. One of the research priorities addressed the need for a better understanding of metabolic pathways and metabolic engineering in living systems. To stimulate increased awareness and attention to this field, the Subcommittee on Biotechnology established a Metabolic Engineering Working Group. This Working Group has already held two interagency workshops on the subject and now, via this Announcement, broadens the participation and information exchange in the research community.

Purpose

In an effort to support a more coordinated effort of Federal Metabolic Engineering R&D interests, and to identify new R&D opportunities in Metabolic Engineering for Federal Government involvement, the Working Group on Metabolic Engineering is calling for research proposals in Metabolic Engineering.

For purposes of this Announcement, Metabolic Engineering (ME) is defined as follows: emerging approach to the understanding and utilization of metabolic processes. As the name implies, ME is the targeted and purposeful alteration of metabolic pathways found in an organism in order to better understand and utilize cellular pathways for chemical transformation, energy transduction, and supramolecular assembly. ME typically involves the redirection of cellular activities by the rearrangement of the enzymatic, transport, and regulatory functions of the cell through the use of recombinant DNA and other techniques. Much of this effort has focussed on microbial organisms, but important work is being done in cell cultures derived from plants, insects, and animals. Since the success of ME hinges on the ability to change host metabolism, its continued development will depend critically on a far more sophisticated knowledge of metabolism than currently exists. This knowledge includes conceptual and technical approaches necessary to understand the integration and control of genetic, catalytic, and transport processes. While this knowledge will be valuable as fundamental research, per se, it will also provide the underpinning for many applications of immediate value.

Topic Descriptions

Proposals are invited that describe enabling technologies useful for the study of metabolic processes and metabolic engineering. Three areas are of particular interest, although others may be considered:

- Instrumentation, sensors, new analytical tools, and new cell and molecular biology methods which facilitate the study of metabolic pathways, especially those technologies that allow the examination of individual cells.

- Quantitative and conceptual models integrated with experimental studies that better characterize the regulation and integration of complex, interacting metabolic pathways.

- The use of bioinformatics to deduce the structure, function, and regulation of major metabolic pathways from the genomic sequence data bases.

Multi-disciplinary projects are being sought in the above areas. It is desirable that such projects take advantage of the opportunity for synergistic interactions between at least two of the participating Agencies.

SUBMISSION PROCESS

Responses to this Announcement will involve a mandatory two-step process: Pre-Proposals and invited Full Proposals.

A Pre-Proposal shall be submitted by an individual investigator (serving as the "lead" investigator for two or more collaborating investigators). No institutional signatures are required on Pre-Proposals. Pre-Proposals must follow the format described below.

Invitations for submission of Full Proposals will be extended to certain authors of Pre-Proposals after review of the Pre-Proposals (see below). Academic and Non-Profit Institutions, Industrial Organizations, and Government (Federal, State, and Local) Laboratories, are eligible to submit Full Proposals.

PRE-PROPOSAL FORMAT

Investigators are strongly encouraged to discuss their idea for a Pre-Proposal with a member(s) of the Metabolic Engineering Working Group (MEWG) (see Agency Contacts listed at the end of this Announcement). They should then submit a brief Pre-Proposal that allows the MEWG to evaluate the programmatic relevance and significance of their Metabolic Engineering idea. The Pre-Proposal, in three or fewer pages of text, should contain a description and explanation of the idea, an assessment of its novelty and importance, and the approach proposed to test the idea. The Pre-Proposal should also provide a brief non-itemized budget estimate for the project [a rough guideline is funding up to $125K (total costs, ie. direct and indirect costs), and/or agency in-kind support] per year per investigator. A typical project duration would be up to three years.

In addition to the pages of text, each Pre-Proposal must include a Curriculum Vitae for each of the Investigators, which should not exceed two pages for each Investigator.

PRE-PROPOSAL SUBMISSION

An original and twenty (20) copies of the Pre-Proposal must be received by February 6, 1998, and addressed to:

Fred G. Heineken, Ph.D.
Chair, Metabolic Engineering Working Group
Bioengineering and Environmental Systems Division
Directorate for Engineering
Room 565
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

Pre-Proposals sent by express mail should have the following phone number listed on the express mail label: (703) 306-1319.

Pre-Proposals may be sent by FAX to: (703) 306-0312.

Pre-Proposals may also be sent by e:mail in ASCII (DOS) Code to:

fheineke@nsf.gov

Investigators will be notified by March 6, 1998, if they are or are not to be invited to submit Full Proposals to the interested Agencies.

PRE-PROPOSAL REVIEW

The Metabolic Engineering Working Group will review all Pre-Proposals to see if they:

1. Are consistent with the Topic Descriptions section of this Announcement.

2. Generate enough interest from at least two of the participating Agencies that these Agencies are willing to invite submission of a Full Proposal to their respective Agencies.

3. Integrate multi-disciplinary sciences and engineering in the solution of key problems in Metabolic Engineering.

Investigators whose Pre-Proposals do not meet these criteria will not be invited to submit Full Proposals and their Pre-Proposals will not be considered any further under this Announcement. However, this does not exclude these investigators from sending a proposal on Metabolic Engineering to an Agency for review by that Agency outside of this Announcement.

FULL PROPOSAL SUBMISSION

Investigators whose Pre-Proposals meet the Pre-Proposal review criteria will be invited by the appropriate Agencies to submit Full Proposals. Since Full Proposals need to be submitted in accordance with the guidelines of each relevant Agency, information concerning regulations, submission dates, review process, and review criteria will be sent to the investigators at the time of Full Proposal invitation. The estimated amount of funding (including agency in-kind contributions) available for Inter-Agency ME support is up to $2.6M per year. However, Agencies have no obligation to provide this amount of support if the quality of the proposals received does not justify such an expenditure, and/or sufficient funds or Agency in-kind support are not available. In FY 1997, NIH provided $1.4M of support for Metabolic Engineering projects.

ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have an EPA/NSF Partnership for Environmental Research. An Interagency Announcement of Opportunity for "Technology for a Sustainable Environment" has been issued under this Partnership and is available at the following web sites: http://www.epa.gov/ncerqa or http://www.nsf.gov. Metabolic Engineering topics are also included in this Announcement.

For authors interested in submitting proposals on Metabolic Engineering to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is a separate Program Announcement (95-087) issued by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) on Metabolic Engineering; this opportunity is described in more detail at the following web site: http://www.nih.gov/nigms/funding/pa

Applications for funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce or the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) outside of the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) competitions should follow the guidance provided in this Announcement. On the other hand, for authors interested in submitting proposals on Metabolic Engineering to ATP within NIST, the following information is relevant: Pre-proposals cannot be accepted for application to the ATP Program. Industry proposers are encouraged to team with universities, small businesses, and federal laboratories (not including NIST) and apply directly to the ATP through the General Competition or applicable Focused Program competitions as announced in FY1998 by the ATP in the Commerce Business Daily (CBD) and on the ATP web site (http://www.atp.nist.gov). ATP application kits are available from the ATP via the toll-free ATP hotline: 1-800-ATP-FUND, or by sending an e-mail request to atp@nist.gov. The application kit outlines the selection criteria that must be met to successfully compete in an ATP competition.

AGENCY CONTACTS

Additional information may be obtained by contacting:

Department of Agriculture (USDA): Rod Bothast
Phone: (309) 681-6567
rbothast@mail.ncaur.usda.gov
  Jeff Conrad
Phone: (202) 401-6188
jconrad@reeusda.gov
Department of Commerce (DOC): Vince Vilker
Phone: (301) 975-5066
vincent.vilker@nist.gov
Department of Defense (DOD): Harold Bright
Phone: (703) 696-4054
brighth@onr.navy.mil
  Eric Eisenstadt
Phone: (703) 696-4596
eisense@onr.navy.mil
Department of Energy (DOE): David Boron
Phone: (202) 586-0080
david.boron@hq.doe.gov
  Valerie Sarisky-Reed
Phone: (202) 586-5618
valerie.sarisky-reed@hq.doe.gov
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Robert Menzer
Phone: (202) 564-6849
menzer.robert@epamail.epa.gov
  Michael Broder
Phone: (202) 260-3498
broder.michael@epamail.epa.gov
  Mark Segal
Phone: (202) 260-3389
segal.mark@epamail.epa.gov
National Science Foundation (NSF): Fred Heineken
Phone: (703) 306-1319
fheineke@nsf.gov
  George Vermont
Phone: (703) 306-1320
gvermont@nsf.gov
For the parallel NIH effort:  
National Institutes of Health (NIH): Warren Jones
Phone: (301) 594-5938
jonesw@gm1.nigms.nih.gov
For the DOC ATP effort:  
Department of Commerce (DOC): Linda Schilling
Phone: (301) 975-2887
linda.schilling@nist.gov

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION  

The Foundation provides awards for research and education in the sciences and engineering. The awardee is wholly responsible for the conduct of such research and preparation of the results for publication. The Foundation, therefore, does not assume responsibility for the research findings or their interpretation.

The Foundation welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists and engineers and strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to compete fully in any of the research and education related programs described here. In accordance with federal statutes, regulations, and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin, or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from the National Science Foundation.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF projects. See the program announcement or contact the program coordinator at (703) 306-1636.

Privacy Act. The information requested on proposal forms is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. It will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals and may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the review process; to applicant institutions/grantees; to provide or obtain data regarding the application review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers, and researchers as necessary to complete assigned work; and to other government agencies in order to coordinate programs. See Systems of Records, NSF 50, Principal Investigators/Proposal File and Associated Records, and NSF-51, 60 Federal Register 4449 (January 23, 1995), Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records, 59 Federal Register 8031 (February 17, 1994).

Public Burden. Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of your receiving an award.

The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Gail A. McHenry, Reports Clearance Officer, Information Dissemination Branch, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 245, Arlington, VA 22230.

The National Science Foundation has TDD (Telephonic Device for the Deaf) capability, which enables individuals with hearing impairment to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment, or general information. To access NSF TDD, dial (703) 306-0090; for FIRS, 1-800-877-8339.

National Science Foundation programs described in this publication fall under the following categories in the latest Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance issued by the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration: 47.041 - Engineering

OMB # 3145-0058

PT: 34

KW: 1002007; 1002057; 1002071

ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION ONLY