Investigating the Rules of Life

The Directorate of Biological Sciences (BIO) seeks to support research that spans the traditional subdisciplines of biology to address broad and fundamental questions that advance discovery of general principles operating across all levels of life, from subcellular systems to ecosystems. To promote this type of integrative research, all four BIO divisions – including IOS – encourage submissions of proposals to the Rules of Life (RoL) track of our core solicitations, which requires that projects cross divisional boundaries within the directorate.

RoL proposals submitted to IOS should describe projects that apply integrative approaches that span levels of biological organization beyond the organism and that require co-review by IOS and one or more of the other divisions in BIO – DBI, DEB, or MCB.

To give you an idea of the scope and focus of RoL awards made in fiscal year 2019, here are some representative examples:

  • IOS – 1931657:  RoL: Collaborative Research: Extreme Environments, Physiological Adaptation, and the Origin of Species, awarded by IOS and DEB. Extreme environments allow for the investigation of life’s capacity and limitations to cope with far-from-average environmental conditions. Springs rich in hydrogen sulfide represent some of the most extreme freshwater environments because hydrogen sulfide halts energy production in animal cells. This project investigates how the genetic changes that underlie the fish’s ability to tolerate hydrogen sulfide impact their ability to successfully interbreed with related fish that live in adjacent freshwater streams. The project provides training opportunities in integrative biology for participants at all levels of higher education. It will also contribute to science education and public outreach by training scientists to become effective science communicators.

If you have any questions about Rules of Life proposals or other potential proposals that you would like to submit, please don’t hesitate to contact a relevant program director in IOS.