IOS Virtual Office Hours November edition: Biology Integration Institutes (BII) and Understanding the Rules of Life: Epigenetics (URoL: Epigenetics) – What do you need to know?

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) held a Virtual Office Hour on November 21, 2019, focused on the new solicitations for the Biology Integration Institutes (BII; NSF 20-508) and Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL): Epigenetics (NSF 20-512).

  • The BII solicitation focuses on the development of institutes that can provide structure for integrated biological research and education and focus on questions that will lead to scientific breakthroughs following an integration across biological disciplines.
  • The URoL: Epigenetics solicitation focuses on the development of interdisciplinary studies to address how epigenetic phenomena lead to emergent properties (‘rules’) underlying biological phenomena within or across scales of size, complexity, and time in any taxa, including humans.
  • Attendees had a number of questions about both of these solicitations, some common themes were:
  • Requirements (in both BII and URoL: Epigenetics) to outline student or post-doctoral training or data sharing/dissemination seem to have significant overlap with other proposal components like the Data Management Plan or the Post-doctoral Mentoring Plan.  Is it still necessary to provide a Data Management Plan, etc., where there seems to be overlap? – In short, yes.  Solicitations provide guidance on what is required in proposals and while there seems to be some overlap that does not do away with required proposal elements.  Always be sure to read solicitations carefully to be sure you have all required elements in your submitted proposal.
  • Can any guidance be given on exactly what sorts of epigenetic mechanisms might be of more interest to URoL: Epigenetics and should you have preliminary data on mechanisms that you are going to investigate?  Preliminary data is important to the success of any proposal submitted as it shows proof of concept and the ability of researchers to do what they are proposing to do.  What epigenetic mechanism is best to focus on is left to the researchers themselves as the most appropriate for what you propose in your research.  For more assistance on these and other URoL: Epigenetics questions please contact the epigen@nsf.gov email alias.
  • What are the differences between the Design and Implementation tracks of the BII solicitation?  The Design track is for the development of activities that would lead to a collaboration for an Institute.  These are 1-2 year awards that are for up to $200,000.  Any sort of meeting and planning activities can be proposed.  The Implementation track is for full Institute development, these are up to 5 years in duration and for up to $12.5 million.
  • For the URoL: Epigenetics solicitation collaborations are encouraged, but must they be within biology disciplines or not? For URoL: Epigenetics you may have collaborations with investigators who are also working in areas of the biological sciences, but you must have collaboration with investigators outside of the biological sciences (e.g., engineering or geology, etc.).
  • For the BII solicitation collaborations are encouraged, but must they be within biology disciplines or not? For BII you may have collaborations with investigators outside of the biological sciences, but you must have collaborations with investigators within the biological sciences. If you have additional questions about either solicitation, please contact the program officers listed in the solicitation.

Join us at our next IOS Office Hour on Thursday, December 19, 2019, at 1 pm EDT, when IOS program directors will be available to answer questions and pass on information to investigators interested in IOS.  Our December IOS Office Hour will focus on the recently released Understanding the Rules of Life: Microbiome Theory and Mechanisms (URoL: MTM – NSF 20-513) solicitation.