Did you miss it? February 2023 Virtual Office Hours Recap: Funding opportunities for infection biology at NSF 

The slides are available here.

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) held a Virtual Office Hour on February 16, 2023 providing information on current solicitations and Dear Colleague Letters of potential interest to the community. This overview was followed by our topic of the month, funding opportunities for infection biology research at NSF where Program Officers provided information on infection biology-themed research opportunities across IOS and a variety of other NSF programs.  

IOS recognizes that infections can affect the organism in myriad ways and therefore supports infection biology broadly. These infections can include those that are mutualistic, commensal, or parasitic. Our recent Organismal Systems in Infection Biology Dear Colleague Letter (OSIB DCL NSF 22-016) described many of the opportunities available in core IOS programs. In addition, the VOH provided a summary of other programs that welcome proposals with infection-focused research including Organismal Response to Climate Change (NSF 22-513), Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (NSF 22-620), and Building Synthetic Microbial Communities for Biology, Mitigating Climate Change, Sustainability and Biotechnology (NSF 22-607). A more comprehensive list of opportunities and their relevance to infection biology research is available in the slides. 

Program Officers addressed audience member questions: 

  • Can plants, as hosts, and the viruses and bacteria that infect them be considered in infection biology research at NSF? – IOS thinks broadly about infection biology, and this can include infection of plants, of animals and even of other microbes themselves. IOS also considers infection by organisms other than microbes. 
  • For the Organismal Systems and Infection Biology (OSIB) Dear Colleague Letter, how would one incorporate reference to this opportunity in their application? – Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs) are a mechanism that NSF uses to draw community attention to areas of specific research interest and to call for proposals in that area. The OSIB DCL identifies NSF’s interest in understanding infection processes in natural systems. If you are preparing a proposal in this area, you should add OSIB at the beginning of the title. We also recommend that you include 2-4 sentences in the first 2 pages of your proposal explicitly stating how your work is OSIB-focused research. Proposals responding to this DCL are submitted to our core IOS solicitation, which has been recently updated (NSF 23-547) or to other standing solicitations as stipulated in the DCL. 
  • Are human disease systems only relevant to EEID, or would human pathogens also be of interest to other programs if the research goals align? – IOS is interested in natural systems of infection. There are some human pathogens that infect other animals, and there are animals that become vectors or reservoirs for diseases that impact humans. IOS would be interested in studies that examine human pathogen infections in other animals. However, NSF does not support clinical research on human disease or projects focused on the development of medical interventions. See the “About that National Science Foundation” introduction in the PAPPG for more information on the types of research NSF does and does not support. 

Please join us on March 16th, 2023 for our next IOS Virtual Office Hour!