Biosensing

National Science Foundation (NSF)

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Deadline: Rolling

Grant amount: Up to US $7,600,000

Fields of work: Bioengineering

Applicant type: Organizations, Faculty, Research Scientist

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

Overview:

The Biosensing program is part of the Engineering Biology and Health cluster, which also includes

  1. The Biophotonics program;
  2. The Cellular and Biochemical Engineering program;
  3. The Disability and Rehabilitation Engineering program; and
  4. The Engineering of Biomedical Systems program.

The Biosensing program supports fundamental engineering research on devices and methods for measurement and quantification of biological analytes. Examples of biosensors include, but are not limited to, electrochemical/electrical biosensors, optical biosensors, plasmonic biosensors, and paper-based and nanopore-based biosensors. In addition to advancing biosensor technology development, proposals that address critical needs in biomedical research, public health, food safety, agriculture, forensic, environmental protection, and homeland security are highly encouraged. Proposals that incorporate emerging nanotechnology methods are especially encouraged.

Areas of interest include:

  • Multiplex biosensing platforms that exceed the performance of current state-of-the-art devices; ·
  • Novel transduction principles, mechanisms and sensor designs suitable for measurement in practical matrix and sample-preparation-free approaches, including error-free detection of pathogens and toxins in food matrices, waterborne pathogens, parasites, toxins, biomarkers in body fluids, neuron chemicals, and others that improve human condition;
  • Biosensors that enable measurement of biomolecular interactions in their native states, transmembrane transport, intracellular transport and reactions, and other biological phenomena;
  • Biosensing performance optimization for specific health applications such as point-of-care testing and personalized health monitoring;
  • Miniaturization of biosensors for lab-on-a-chip and cell/organ-on-a-chip applications to enable measurement of biological properties and functions of cell/tissues in vitro;
  • Biosensing systems with integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning;
  • Biosensors that exploit quantum correlations to develop a suite of analytical tools that will have superior performance over ordinary classical biosensing technology; and
  • Biosensors that leverage unique electrical properties of biomolecules, such as DNA; proteins; cells; and the nervous system to develop miniaturized biomedical devices for modulating and characterization of biological species.

The Biosensors Program does not encourage proposals addressing surface functionalization and modulation of bio-recognition molecules, development of basic chemical mechanisms for biosensing applications, circuit design for signal processing and amplification, computational modeling, and microfluidics for sample separation and filtration. Medical imaging-based measurements are outside of the scope of the program interests. Proposals that rely heavily on descriptive approaches are given lower priority. Proposals for optimizing and/or utilizing established methods for specific applications should be directed to programs focused on the application of sensor technology. Innovative ideas outside of the above specific interest areas may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the proposal being returned without review.

Where to submit proposals with other areas of focus:

  • Projects related to water/soil quality may be jointly supported with the Environmental Engineering program (CBET 1440).
  • Photonic devices with medical imaging and/or optogenetics should be submitted to Biophotonics (CBET 7236).
  • Devices for tissue engineering should be submitted to Engineering of Biomedical Systems (CBET 5345).
  • Basic chemical/biochemical sensing mechanisms should be submitted to the MPS Division of Chemistry's Chemical Measurement and Imaging program (CHE/CMI 6880).
  • Proposals for dynamic biosensing systems, including circuit design for signal/data processing and amplification, and sensing systems through communication and machine learning should be submitted to the ECCS Division's Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems (ECCS/CCSS 7564).

INFORMATION COMMON TO MOST CBET PROGRAMS

Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature of the proposed work compared to previous work in the field. Also, it is important to address why the proposed work is important in terms of engineering science, as well as to also project the potential impact on society and/or industry of success in the research. The novelty or potentially transformative nature of the research should be included, as a minimum, in the Project Summary of each proposal.

The duration of unsolicited proposal awards in CBET is generally up to three years. Single-investigator award budgets typically include support for one graduate student (or equivalent) and up to one month of PI time per year (awards for multiple investigator projects are typically larger). Proposal budgets that are much larger than typical should be discussed with the program director prior to submission. Proposers can view budget amounts and other information from recent awards made by this program via the “What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)” link towards the bottom of this page.

Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program proposals are strongly encouraged. Award duration is five years. The submission deadline for Engineering CAREER proposals is in July every year. Learn more in the CAREER program description.

Proposals for Conferences, Workshops, and Supplements: PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss their requests with the program director before submission of the proposal.

Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are also considered when appropriate. Please note that proposals of these types must be discussed with the program director before submission.

Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals that integrate fundamental research with translational results and are consistent with the application areas of interest to each program are also encouraged.

Please note that RAPID, EAGER, and GOALI proposals can be submitted anytime during the year. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • Except where a program solicitation establishes more restrictive eligibility criteria, individuals and organizations in the following categories may submit proposals:
    • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members.
      • IHEs located outside the US fall under paragraph 6. below.
      • Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs
        • If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
    • Non-profit, Non-academic Organizations -Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the US that are directly associated with educational or research activities.
    • For-profit Organizations - US commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education.
      • An unsolicited proposal from a commercial organization may be funded when the project is of special concern from a national point of view, special resources are available for the work, or the proposed project is especially meritorious.
      • NSF is interested in supporting projects that couple industrial research resources and perspectives with those of universities; therefore, it especially welcomes proposals for cooperative projects involving both universities and the private commercial sector.
    • State and Local Governments - State educational offices or organizations and local school districts may submit proposals intended to broaden the impact, accelerate the pace, and increase the effectiveness of improvements in science, mathematics and engineering education in both K-12 and post-secondary levels.
    • Unaffiliated Individuals - Unaffiliated individuals in the US and US citizens rarely receive direct funding support from NSF.
      • Recipients of Federal funds must be able to demonstrate their ability to fully comply with the requirements specified in 2 CFR § 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.
      • As such, unaffiliated individuals are strongly encouraged to affiliate with an organization that is able to meet the requirements specified in 2 CFR § 200.
      • Unaffiliated individuals must contact the cognizant Program Officer prior to preparing and submitting a proposal to NSF.
    • Foreign organizations - NSF rarely provides funding support to foreign organizations.
      • NSF will consider proposals for cooperative projects involving US and foreign organizations, provided support is requested only for the US portion of the collaborative effort.
      • In cases however, where the proposer considers the foreign organization’s involvement to be essential to the project (e.g., through subawards or consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain why local support is not feasible and why the foreign organization can carry out the activity more effectively.
      • In addition, the proposed activity must demonstrate how one or more of the following conditions have been met:
        • The foreign organization contributes a unique organization, facilities, geographic location and/or access to unique data resources not generally available to US investigators (or which would require significant effort or time to duplicate) or other resources that are essential to the success of the proposed project; and/or
        • The foreign organization to be supported offers significant science and engineering education, training or research opportunities to the US.
    • Other Federal Agencies - NSF does not normally support research or education activities by scientists, engineers or educators employed by Federal agencies or FFRDCs. Under unusual circumstances, other Federal agencies and FFRDCs may submit proposals directly to NSF.
      • A proposed project is only eligible for support if it meets one or more of the following exceptions, as determined by a cognizant NSF Program Officer:
        • Special Projects. Under exceptional circumstances, research or education projects at other Federal agencies or FFRDCs that can make unique contributions to the needs of researchers elsewhere or to other specific NSF objectives may receive NSF support.
        • National and International Programs. The Foundation may fund research and logistical support activities of other Government agencies or FFRDCs directed at meeting the goals of special national and international research programs for which the Foundation bears special responsibility, such as the US Antarctic Research Program.
        • International Travel Awards. In order to ensure appropriate representation or availability of a particular expertise at an international conference, staff researchers of other Federal agencies may receive NSF international travel awards.
      • Proposers who think their project may meet one of the exceptions listed above must contact a cognizant NSF Program Officer before preparing a proposal for submission.
        • In addition, a scientist, engineer or educator who has a joint appointment with a university and a Federal agency (such as a Veterans Administration Hospital, or with a university and a FFRDC) may submit proposals through the university and may receive support if he/she is a faculty member (or equivalent) of the university, although part of his/her salary may be provided by the Federal agency.
        • Preliminary inquiry must be made to the appropriate program before preparing a proposal for submission.

Ineligibility:

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This page was last reviewed August 13, 2020 and last updated September 13, 2019