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Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)
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About Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)

The Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) supports fundamental research and related activities designed to promote understanding of complex living systems at the molecular, subcellular, and cellular levels.   MCB supports quantitative, predictive, and theory-driven research and related activities designed to decipher the molecular underpinnings of complex living systems.  MCB encourages proposals that address major biological questions using approaches at the intersections of biology with other disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering.  In addition, MCB encourages research utilizing model systems that are appropriate to the questions being addressed. If the proposed research is relevant to a bio-based economy and biological industries, researchers are strongly encouraged to highlight the relevance of their research to bio-inspired solutions to clean energy, biomaterials, industry, and environmental change.  However, as stated in the Grant Proposal Guide , "Research with disease-related goals, including work on the etiology, diagnosis or treatment of physical or mental disease, abnormality, or malfunction in human beings or animals, is normally not supported. Animal models of such conditions or the development or testing of drugs or other procedures for their treatment also are not eligible for support."  Proposals that include reference to the etiology, diagnosis or treatment of human disease, or that are relevant to or motivated by the medical importance of the research topic are not appropriate for the Division and will be returned without review.

MCB continues to provide unique education and training opportunities for the next generation of researchers, scientific educators, and scientifically literate citizens. Highest funding priority is given to applications that are outstanding in both intellectual merit and broader impacts.  Successful proposals often demonstrate close integration of scientific and educational aims, and the division encourages creative activities that broaden participation and stimulate an appreciation and curiosity for molecular and cell biology among the widest possible audiences.

The scientific programs in MCB are organized into the following clusters:

Molecular Biophysics

Cellular Dynamics and Function

Genetic Mechanisms

Systems and Synthetic Biology

The MCB webpage http://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?org=MCB provides information about each programmatic area as well as contact information for the associated Program Directors.  In order to correctly identify the program within MCB for consideration of a particular proposal, please read the cluster descriptions on the website by clicking the above links.  Consultation with the Program Director associated with each programmatic area is also possible. 

The Division also supports a variety of Foundation-wide and Directorate-wide activities (such as listed below) designed to promote integration of research and education.  Some of these proposals are reviewed along with regular research proposals using ad hoc and panel reviews, and some are reviewed internally.

Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) proposals should be submitted by the deadlines listed in the CAREER solicitation.

Research Coordination Networks (RCN), and Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) proposals should be submitted by the same deadline as the investigator-initiated proposals solicitation.

Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID), for Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and for limited support of special meetings and workshops can be submitted at any time. Conference proposals should be submitted in accordance with the Grant Proposal Guide at least 6 months before the start date of the conference.  See Grant Proposal Guide for information about these types of proposals. Before submitting EAGER, RAPID, and conference proposals, please contact a program director in the area of the proposal.

For submission of proposals to the following initiatives, see the relevant website:

Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE):  http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf13518

Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI); http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2011/nsf11087/nsf11087.jsp;

SAVI FAQ's http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2011/nsf11090/nsf11090.jsp).

Before submitting an INSPIRE or SAVI proposal, please contact a program director in the area of the proposal.

The Division will accept investigator-initiated research proposals only in response to the solicitation where submission dates can be found.  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) can also be found on program page.   Proposals received on or before the deadline will be reviewed using ad hoc and panel reviews.

More information about the current and future goals and priorities of the BIO Directorate and the MCB Division can be found in the annual BIO Budget excerpts from the NSF Budget Requests to Congress.

Revised February 2013



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