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Biological Sciences

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This federal aid program is managed by:



To promote the progress of the biological sciences and thereby strengthen the Nation's scientific enterprise; to increase scientific knowledge and enhance understanding of major problems confronting the Nation. Most of the research supported is basic in character. The program includes support of research project grants in the following disciplines: molecular and cellular biosciences, integrative organismal biology; environmental biology; biological infrastructure; and plant genome research. Support is also provided for the purchase of multi-user scientific equipment and instrument development, and for research workshops, symposia, and conferences. In addition, awards are made to improve the quality of doctoral dissertations in environmental biology and integrative organismal biology; for postdoctoral fellowships in biological informatics and postdoctoral fellowships to minority scientists in all areas of research supported by the biological sciences.

Funding obligations:

(Grants) FY 07 $608,540,000; FY 08 est $612,020,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Uses and Use Restrictions:

Grant funds may be used for paying costs necessary to conduct research or studies such as salaries and wages, permanent equipment, expendable materials and supplies, travel, publication costs, and other direct and indirect costs. Primary responsibility for general supervision of all grant activities rests with the grantee institution; the principal investigator is responsible for the scientific work. Funds may not be used for purposes other than those specified in the proposal.

Examples of Funded Projects:

1) BioLit: Open Source Tools for Integrating Biological Literature and Databases. (2) Potential for the Recovery of Biogeochemical Function in Degraded Stream Ecosystems. (3) Evolution of Cavefish Eye Degeneration. (4) Sequencing the Maize Genome. (5) The Energy Landscapes of Protein Folding and Function: Connecting Theory and Experiments. (6) The Emergence of Life: From Geochemistry to the Genetic Code.

Program Accomplishments:

In fiscal year 2007, 6,726 proposals were received and 1,303 awards were made. In fiscal year 2008, approximately 7,000 proposals are expected to be received and 1,250 awards will be made.

Types of Assistance:

Project Grants.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:

$2,000 to $12,389,000; $184,040.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:

Up to 5 years.

Applicant Eligibility:

Public and private colleges and universities; Non-profit, non-academic organizations; For-profit organizations; State and Local Governments; and unaffiliated scientists under special circumstances. See the Grant Proposal Guide for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility:

See the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.E. for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Award Procedure:

NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals generally with the assistance and advice of other qualified scientists and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Proposals are accepted in order of merit to the extent permitted by available funds. States will be notified of Federal assistance awards through the Federal Assistance Awards Data System (FAADS).

Contact Info for Headquarters Office:

Assistant Director, Biological Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703)292-8400. NSF World Wide Web site URL:

Website Address:

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