EBICS Seed Grant Program

EBICS Seed Grant Program


The NSF Science and Technology Center, Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS), jointly operated by the primary partner institutions MIT, Georgia Institute of Technology (GT), and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), announces a call for proposals in the area of developmental biology.  

EBICS’ mission is to create a new scientific discipline for building living, multi-cellular machines that solve real world problems in health, security, and the environment. EBICS research aims to address the grand challenge of engineering multi-cellular biological machines that have desired functionalities and can perform prescribed tasks. These machines consist of sensing, information processing, actuation, protein expression, and transport elements that can be effectively combined to create functional units. The scientific goals of EBICS are: (1) to establish a fundamental understanding of cell-cell and cell-environment interactions, and their control by biochemical and mechanical cues; (2) assemble and characterize the properties and performance of multi-cellular machines; (3) creating the nascent discipline for building living, multi-cellular machines for a wide range of applications. 

To help achieve the goals of EBICS, to explore new ideas in developing cellular machines, to fill unmet needs within our research program, and to facilitate new collaborations, we established an EBICS seed grant program.  In 2012 we intend to fund one seed grant starting in fall 2012 with a budget of $150,000 total cost per year.  In addition, the 2012 EBICS seed grant program has the expressed goal of identifying an external, non-EBICS collaborator, working in the area of developmental biology, to ultimately bring into the Center as a fully-funded faculty member. 


EBICS faculty are invited to submit seed grant proposal(s) with non-EBICS faculty working in the area of developmental biology at any U.S. institution. The non-EBICS collaborator must serve as the primary PI on the proposed work. Proposals should focus on understanding fundamental functions in development involving signaling and other cell-cell interactions that mediate spatial organization, tissue patterning, morphogenesis, organogenesis, regeneration, etc. with a specific focus on establishing a precise and formal definition of emergent behaviors, qualitatively and quantitatively, as relevant to EBICS.  Integration of computational analysis tools for multicellular systems is also a major plus.  The proposed research should be consistent with the vision and goals of EBICS and the long-term role of the proposed external collaborator within the Center should be clearly articulated.

An EBICS Seed Grant proposal should consist of: (1) a cover page with title of project, names and affiliation of the PI and co-PIs, and a summary (up to 300 words); (2) a technical proposal of up to three pages (excluding References), using NIH format (proposal continuation page of Form PHS398, single-space, 0.5” margin and Arial 11 point font size) with Specific Aims, Research Strategy (including Significance, Innovation, and Approach) and References sections; (3) two NIH-format budget pages (PHS398, Form Page 4 from each co-PI); (4) NIH-format biosketches of the PI and co-PIs.


The 2012 EBICS seed grant budget is $150,000 total cost per year and is eligible for renewal, on a competitive basis, for a second year. The seed grant funds can only be used for supporting trainees (graduate students or postdocs) and providing materials and supplies. No other expenses, such as faculty salary, equipment, or travel expenses should be proposed. 

Seed Grant Selection and Management

EBICS seed grant proposals will be reviewed by a sub-committee of the EBICS Research Committee who will make funding recommendations to the EBICS Directors.  Selection for funding is based on technical merit, potential for filling a need within the EBICS research program in the area of developmental biology, track record of the PI and co-PIs, the expected project outcomes, and the overall ability for the new non-EBICS PI to collaborate more broadly with current EBICS faculty and projects. Each seed grant project team is required to submit a final progress report (2 pages) after one year of funding as part of the faculty evaluation process. Instructions for the progress report will be distributed at a later date.

Seed Grant Proposal Submission

2012 application is closed.