Did you miss it? March 2023 Virtual Office Hours Recap: IOS Synthesis Center for Understanding Organismal Resilience 

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) held a Virtual Office Hour on March 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, the new IOS Synthesis Center for Understanding Organismal Resilience (NSF 23-564) funding opportunity.   

Cognizant Program Officers for the IOS Synthesis Center solicitation can be contacted at SynCenter@nsf.gov to answer questions about the solicitation and discuss suitability of proposed projects. 

The Virtual Office Hour slides are available HERE

General information about the new IOS Synthesis Center solicitation: 

  • The deadline for a required pre-proposal submission is January 12, 2024
  • The deadline for full proposal submission is July 15, 2024.  
  • Budgets may not exceed $20 million in combined direct costs summed over all components of the project. 

Below, the Cognizant Program Officers have provided expanded answers to audience member questions: 

  1. Is the center expected (or limited) to be hosted by a single institution, or could it be across institutions?  There is a section called “Structure of the Synthesis Center” in the solicitation that states “The Synthesis Center may be single- or multi- institutional; however, proposals for multi-institutional Synthesis Centers must have one leading institution with collaborating institutions included as sub-awardees or sub-contracts.” We remind the community that it is not mandatory for the center to be multi-institutional – it can also be from a single institution.  
  1. What is the funding level for this center? Only one Synthesis Center award will result from this activity. As described in the solicitation, the total anticipated funding amount is $20,000,000 over an initial term of 5 years. “Pending available funds, NSF anticipates a budget of up to $2,000,000 in year 1, $3,000,000 in year 2, and $5,000,000 per year in year 3 through year 5. In the fourth year of the cooperative agreement, the Synthesis Center may submit a renewal proposal upon invitation by the NSF for up to five additional years of support.”  
  1. Can the center focus on specific life forms or biomes or are we talking about general features of resilience? Will a topic/project working on agricultural systems fit to this solicitation? Proposers can choose to emphasize one or as many species, environments, or life-stages as needed to address the organismal resilience questions that drive their center.  NSF is species agnostic in that sense, but proposers should articulate the strengths and advantages of any systems they propose.  The Synthesis Center must enable use of the data beyond the common and relatively narrow studies of single-dimensional aspects of an organism (e.g., a single organ system or tissue) or individual investigator-scale projects. 
  1. The solicitation notes that collections for new data are not permitted. Might you explain the reasons for this, the vision behind the data only synthesis centers, and if there are nuances to be aware of.  The vast majority of what we support in our funding portfolio are investigator-driven research projects that produce novel data. Synthesis Centers are a complementary activity to these research projects and are meant to help maximize our investment by encouraging scientists to revisit their dispersed data sets from different labs and synthesize data in new ways to provide new understandings. As such, the “new IOS Synthesis Center will serve as a nexus for connections that elevate the utility of biological data from different modalities and varied spatial, temporal and/or hierarchical scales in service to the topic of resilience and plasticity.”  

Please join us on April 20, 2023 for our next IOS Virtual Office Hour where we will discuss how to write a great budget with the Division of Grants and Agreements (DGA). You can register for April’s virtual office hour HERE