1.  NIH Funding Opportunity: Big Data Centers of Excellence

On July 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a Request for Applications (RFA) for Centers of Excellence for Big Data Computing in the Biomedical Sciences, the signature Centers program supported by NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Initiative. These BD2K Centers of Excellence will support multi- investigator, interdisciplinary teams to advance the science and utility of biomedical Big Data by creating new approaches, software, and tools that will be broadly applicable to the needs of the biomedical research community. NIH began developing the BD2K Initiative, including the BD2K Center program, as part of its plan to implement recommendations of a Data and Informatics Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, which highlighted the need to address challenges related to the use of biomedical Big Data.

Research at these Centers will range from early-stage to mature development of methods and resources. NIH will not support BD2K Centers to generate large datasets or databases. The RFA identifies four areas of Big Data science that NIH is hoping to address though the program’s activities. Center applicants are encouraged to focus on one or more of the following; a single Center is not expected to address all of these areas:

1. Collaborative environments and technologies:

A Center may address issues related to the release and accessibility of Big Data and tools.

2. Data integration:

A Center may develop strategies for creating connections across data types.

3. Analysis and modeling methodologies:

A Center may develop approaches for modeling, simulation, or analysis to produce new, useful biomedical information not provided by current methods.

4. Computer science and statistical approaches:

A Center may explore research areas in the basic computational science of biomedical Big Data.

Also included in the RFA are several examples of projects that could be proposed by Center applicants to enable the development of approaches, methods, and tools that would improve the ability to extract new knowledge from large, complex datasets. It is expected that the research of the Centers will focus on specific biomedical questions, but the results and products of the research should be applicable to broader uses. NIH does not specify a particular organizational structure for the BD2K Centers, but applicants are advised to submit well-integrated plans that incorporate large-scale research, dissemination, and training activities into a cohesive Center.

The BD2K Center awards will use the U54 Specialized Center Cooperative Agreement mechanism. Under this mechanism, NIH plans to organize a BD2K Center Consortium in which all BD2K Center of Excellence awardees will be expected to participate. Consortium activities will identify areas of synergy among the Centers and explore possibilities for concerted actions that have the potential to advance the field of data science beyond the efforts of individual Centers.

Letters of Intent: Letters of intent are optional and should be submitted by October 20, 2013. Application Due Date: Full proposals are due November 20, 2013.



2.  DOD Funding Opportunity: DOD Releases FY 2014 MURI BAA

On August 19, the Department of Defense (DOD) released its fiscal year (FY) 2014 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the popular Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. MURI is one of DOD’s cornerstone university research programs, supporting basic research projects at the intersection of multiple scientific disciplines in areas of interest to DOD. DOD indicates that it will award a total of up to $250 million for MURI projects in FY 2014. While the BAA was released through the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Army Research Office (ARO) and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) also partake in the program. Each of the service branch research offices administers specific topic areas within the BAA (see below). Researchers submit proposals directly to the office responsible for the topic area to which they are responding.

The FY 2014 MURI topics reflect a number of crosscutting priority areas for DOD, including energy, advanced materials, biology and synthetic biology, and computational and information sciences. These areas map with topics recently identified by senior DOD research officials as enduring science and technology priorities despite budget pressure caused by sequestration and other spending reductions. New for FY 2014, DOD stipulates the funding amount and desired team size for each individual topic area rather than providing general guidelines, as was previous practice. Details are included in the complete description of each topic area contained in the full BAA. FY 2014 MURI topic areas by service branch are:

Army Research Office

  • · Attosecond Electron Dynamics
  • · Force-Activated Synthetic Biology
  • · Nonlinear Dynamics of Energy Hypersurfaces Governing Reaction Networks
  • · Strongly Linked Multiscale Models for Predicting Novel Functional Materials
  • · Multistep Catalysis
  • · Innovation in Prokaryotic Evolution
  • · Ultracold Molecular Ion Reactions
  • · The Skin-Microbe Interactome

Office of Naval Research

  • · Understanding Energy Harvesting Mechanisms in Polymer-Based Photovoltaics
  • · Role of Bidirectional Computation in Visual Scene Analysis
  • · Exploring the Atomic and Electronic Structure of Materials to Predict Functional Material Properties
  • · Optical Computing
  • · Quantum optomechanics
  • · Air-Sea Interaction and RF Propagation in Maritime Atmospheric Boundary Layers
  • · Hydrodynamics of Non-traditional Propulsion

Air Force Office of Scientific Research

  • · Time-resolved quantum dynamics of complex systems
  • · Computational Foundation of Mathematics and Information
  • · Transport and Utilization of Energy Using Plasmon-induced Processes
  • · Design Rules for Biobased and Bioinspired Materials
  • · Control of Coherent Structures in Plasmas for Reconfigurable Metamaterial-Based Devices
  • · Multifunctional Quantum Transduction of Photons, Electrons and Phonons
  • · Control of Light Propagation through Metasurfaces
  • · Goal-Driven, Multi-Source Algorithms for Complex Resilient Multi-Physics Systems
  • · Security Theory of Nano-Scale Devices

Letters of Intent: Letters of intent are not required. However, DOD encourages interested researchers to submit white papers to the appropriate program manager in advance of preparing a full proposal. Program managers provide feedback on the extent to which ideas align with current DOD priorities. The deadline for submitting white papers is 4:00 PM EDT on October 15. The BAA states that DOD will provide feedback on white papers by October 29.

Due Dates: As noted above, white papers are due by October 15. For those receiving positive responses to white papers, the deadline for submitting full proposals is December 16, 2013. Full proposals must be submitted electronically through grants.gov. While white papers are not required in order to submit a full proposal, DOD strongly encourages this initial step.

Total Funding and Award Size: DOD anticipates awarding a total of $250 million through this BAA subject to future appropriations. Individual awards range from $1 million-$2.5 million per year, with most awards between $1.25 million and $1.5 million. Awards are for an initial three year period with the possibility of one two year extension. Detailed funding levels for each topic area are in the full BAA.

Eligibility and Limitations: The MURI competition is open to U.S. universities with degree-granting programs in science and engineering. DOD encourages submissions from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions, but will not set aside any funding specifically for these entities. Teams of researchers from multiple institutions can apply for a topic area, but the proposal must designate one lead institution and one lead investigator from that institution to serve as the primary interface with DOD. Desired team sizes for each topic area are in the full BAA.

Sources and Additional Information:

  • · The full FY 2014 MURI BAA is available by searching “ONRBAA13-022” at grants.gov.
  • · For reference, the list of selected projects through the FY 2013 MURI competition is at



3.   DOD Funding Opportunity: Office of Naval Research Releases FY 2014 BAA for Young Investigator Program

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) released its fiscal year (FY) 2014 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Young Investigator Program (YIP). This popular program, which is also offered by other DOD branches like the Army Research Office and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, provides early career university faculty a path into the Navy’s research enterprise through multi-year research grants. With this program, ONR identifies promising young tenure-track faculty in their first or second year who demonstrate the ability to deliver innovative research aligned with ONR’s research priorities. Competition for this program has been intense in recent years; ONR awarded 16 proposals out of 369 for the FY 2013 competition.

Like other BAAs, DOD will accept any proposals that address research areas outlined in ONR’s broad research portfolio. A complete list of topics of interest to each of ONR’s six departments – Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism (Code 30); Command, Control Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (Code 31); Ocean Battlespace Sensing (Code 32); Sea Warfare and Weapons (Code 33); Warfighter Performance (Code 34); and Naval Air Warfare and Weapons (Code 35) – are available on ONR’s science and technology homepage located at http://www.onr.navy.mil/Science- Technology/Departments.aspx.

Due to DOD’s continued emphasis on seven research thrusts outlined by former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Zach Lemnios (autonomy, counter weapons of mass destruction, cyber, data-to-decisions, electronic warfare and protection, human systems, and engineering resilient systems), ONR continues to map its individual research foci to these priorities. Most recently, DOD officials have emphasized cognitive sciences, synthetic biology, advanced materials, and quantum information sciences within these areas. Faculty are encouraged to contact the appropriate program manager to discuss research proposals and how they align with ONR’s research foci and the above priorities. ONR will accept brief white papers to facilitate discussion.

Letters of Intent: None required. ONR encourages researchers to submit white papers to ONR technical leads to discuss the applicability of proposed research topics to ONR’s interests.

Due Dates: January 3, 2014.

Total Funding and Award Size: ONR anticipates having $9.6 million for YIP awards in FY 2014, with individual awards up to $170,000 per year for three years. ONR anticipates making approximately 15 awards for this competition. Budget uncertainties caused by sequestration may alter this funding for FY 2014 and beyond.

Eligibility and Limitations: This BAA is open to first or second year tenure-track faculty from institutions of higher education that award degrees in science, engineering, and/or mathematics. Note that ONR makes awards to institutions, not individuals. Researchers therefore must submit proposals along with a letter of support from the university through appropriate administrators.

Sources and Additional Information:

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