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The FY 2003 Budget Request for the Bioengineering & Environmental Systems Subactivity is $43.87 million, an increase of $2.08 million, or 5.0 percent, above the FY 2002 Current Plan of $41.79 million.

(Millions of Dollars)


FY 2001

FY 2002
Current Plan

FY 2003




Bioengineering and Environmental Systems






Total, BES






The Bioengineering and Environmental Systems (BES) Division supports research and education in the rapidly evolving fields of bioengineering and environmental engineering. BES has two principal objectives. The first objective is to enable and facilitate the deployment of new technologies in these fields in service to society for use in the medical, biotechnology, and environmental arenas. The second objective is to advance bioengineering and environmental engineering education, particularly through the development of innovative programs by new faculty.

BES focuses these objectives through three program clusters:

  • Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology (BEB), supported at $15.94 million;
  • Biomedical Engineering and Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (BME/RAPD), supported at $15.54 million; and
  • Environmental Engineering and Technology (EET), supported at $12.39 million.

Current BES high-emphasis research and education areas include post-genomic engineering, tissue engineering, biophotonics, nano-biosystems, and engineering environmental assessment and problem-solving options development. These high-emphasis research areas are built on a continuing base that includes biosensors, biomaterials, biomechanics, controlled release, bioimaging, medical devices and instrumentation, artificial organs, therapeutic agent bioprocessing, industrial bioproducts bioprocessing, bioremediation, ecological engineering, water and waste treatment, biomining, and food engineering.

Within the U.S. and international research communities, BES support has played a key role in catalyzing and developing highly promising new cutting edge bioengineering and environmental engineering research fields, such as tissue engineering and metabolic engineering. BES has also led the formation of interagency coordination and collaboration partnerships in these fields, including the Multi-Agency Tissue Engineering Science (MATES) working group (, and the Metabolic Engineering Working Group
( The NSF/DARPA/NIH Biophotonics Partnership
( is another joint effort initiated by BES.

Scientific drivers and opportunity areas for BES include:

Post-Genomic Engineering: As a consequence of the genomics revolution that is underway in the biological sciences, engineers now have an entirely new, and explosively growing database on which to build new engineering developments and innovations that will provide important advances in the medical, biotechnology, and environmental arenas.

Tissue Engineering (TE): Tissue Engineering includes gene and drug delivery. A common thread throughout TE areas are the unique biocompatible (and often biologically based) polymers that act as the matrix for cells to develop into three-dimensional tissues, and shield drugs and genes until they are delivered to the proper organs or specific target cells without causing side-effects on healthy cells. The search for these key materials, and understanding how and why they function as they do, are key BES goals. A renewed research thrust in tissue culture engineering will be an important contributing factor in the rapid development of practical ex vivo cell culture techniques.

Biophotonics: Biophotonics seeks to exploit the power of photonics to advance bioengineering. Low cost diagnostics will require novel integration of photonics, molecular biology and material science. Complex biophotonic sensors capable of detecting and discriminating among large classes of biomolecules are important not only to biology and medicine but also to environmental sensing.

Nano-Biosystems: Many nanoscale systems and phenomena are based on biological systems. BES plays a key role in funding exploratory research on biosystems at nanoscale. Chips and sensors, combined with microfluidics, are intimately integrated with the nanobiotechnology area, since many of these systems are used on chips for medical, environmental, and other sensing applications.

Engineering Environmental Assessment and Problem-Solving Options Development: Rapidly expanding cyberinfrastructure capabilities are enabling the potential for developing radically new approaches to engineering assessment of environmental problems. Building on such new assessment approaches, it will be possible to generate problem-solving options for policy alternatives that are based on strong participation not only by engineers, but the full complement of stakeholders, including biological and physical scientists, social scientists, community members, and government officials at the local, state, federal, and in some cases, international levels. On the technical side, development of new sensors, databanks, communication networks, analytical models, and even conceptual frameworks is required.

Increases in the BES budget request, combined with reallocation of base funds, will be distributed among:

  • Biosensor research, with a particular emphasis on homeland defense;

  • The Nanoscale Science and Engineering priority area, with particular emphasis on detection of and protection from biological and chemical agents critical for homeland defense;

  • The Biocomplexity in the Environment priority area, with particular emphasis on the Materials Use: Science, Engineering, and Society (MUSES) rogram; and

  • The Mathematical Sciences priority area, particularly for research on modeling and control of non-linear biosystems.
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National Science Foundation Summary of FY 2003 Budget Request to Congress NSF Logo