This document has been archived. For current NSF funding opportunities, see
The Directorate for Biological Sciences
(BIO) promotes and advances scientific progress in biology, largely through
grants to colleges, universities, and other institutions, especially in
those areas where the National Science Foundation (NSF) has major responsibility.
NSF is the Nation’s principal supporter of fundamental academic research
on plant biology, environmental biology, and biodiversity. It provides support
for research to advance understanding of the underlying principles and mechanisms
governing life. Research ranges from the study of the structure and dynamics
of biological molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, to studies
of cells, organs, and organisms and to studies of populations and ecosystems.
NSF encompasses processes that are internal to an organism and those that
are external and includes temporal frameworks ranging from measurements
in real time through individual life spans to the full scope of evolutionary
In addition to the research and infrastructure support mentioned in this
chapter, the Directorate for Biological Sciences takes an active role in
numerous crosscutting programs and activities. Support is provided for active
research participation grants for high school students: Research Assistantships
for Minority High School Students (see http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=BIO);
for undergraduates: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (see http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5517&from=fund)
and Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (see NSF 03-585);
and for faculty from K-12: Research Experiences for Teachers (see NSF 02-090),
and from predominantly undergraduate institutions: Research Opportunity
Awards (see http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=BIO).
Funds are also provided for the early development of academic faculty
as both educators and researchers through programs such as
Faculty Early Career Development (see http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=BIO),
research conferences, symposia, workshops, and—in selected areas—doctoral
dissertation improvement grants (see http://www.nsf.gov/bio/progdes/bioddig.htm).
Funds are available through the ADVANCE program to increase the representation
and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers, thereby
contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering
workforce (see NSF 02-121 for more
Information on many of the programs listed here is available on the NSF
Crosscutting Programs home page, http://www.nsf.gov/about/career_opps/orientation/xcut.jsp. Information
is also available by referring to the alphabetical listing of programs on
the BIO Directorate Programs and Deadlines Web site, http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=BIO;
or visit the BIO Directorate home page, http://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=BIO.
Eligibility Requirements for BIO Proposals
The most frequent recipients of support for basic scientific research in
the biological sciences are academic institutions and nonprofit research
organizations. In special circumstances, grants are awarded to other types
of institutions and to individuals. In these cases, preliminary inquiry should
be made to the appropriate program officer before a proposal is submitted.
Support may be provided for projects involving a single scientist or a number
of scientists. Awards are made for projects confined to a single disciplinary
area and for those that cross or merge disciplinary interests.
Multiple Principal Investigator [PI] Proposals
Increasingly, many important research problems in science can be addressed
best by a team of investigators, each bringing different perspectives to
the activity. A team approach may result in the application of novel techniques
to biological questions or a more comprehensive treatment of scientific
problems, and may also provide innovative opportunities for the training
The NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences encourages proposals from
three or more investigators—who may come from more than one academic
institution—for collaborative studies focused on a single problem.
Such proposals will be evaluated through BIO's core programs, in addition
to proposals from individual investigators, as part of the programs' portfolio
of activities. Investigators interested in submitting a multi-PI proposal
may contact the appropriate BIO program for further advice and guidance.
Submission of Proposals to the BIO Directorate
All proposals directed to NSF must be submitted through NSF's FastLane
system. For details about this policy, see the latest NSF Grant Proposal
Guide (see http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg for latest version). General
information about FastLane is available at https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/fastlane.jsp.
Incoming proposals are assigned to program officers within the BIO Directorate
for merit review and recommendation. 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 and testing
of drugs or other procedures for their treatment also are not eligible for
Research proposals to the BIO Directorate (not including proposals for
conferences or workshops) cannot be duplicates of proposals to any other
Federal agency for simultaneous consideration. The only exceptions to this
rule are (1) when the proposers and program managers at relevant Federal
agencies have previously agreed to joint review and possibly joint funding
of the proposal and (2) proposals from PIs who are beginning investigators
(individuals who have not been a PI or co-PI on a federally funded award
with the exception of a doctoral dissertation, a postdoctoral fellowship,
or research planning grants). For proposers who qualify under the latter,
the box for "Beginning Investigator" must be checked on the proposal
Deadlines and Target Dates
In most cases the BIO Directorate has established deadlines and target
dates for the submission of proposals. To confirm a date, refer to the electronic
NSF E-Bulletin, http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=NSF&ord=date; or visit the BIO Directorate
home page, http://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=BIO; or contact the appropriate program director.
The earliest possible effective date for an award is approximately 6 months
after the target or deadline date. Unless there is a program solicitation
stating otherwise, proposals must conform to all format requirements in
the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (see http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg for latest version), with special attention paid to page limitations, font
size, and appendix materials. Some programs or specific competitions have
program announcements/solicitations that provide more details about the
activities described in this guide.