Supports fundamental and transformative research that integrates engineering and life sciences to solve biomedical problems.
The Engineering of Biomedical Systems program is part of the Engineering Biology and Health cluster, which also includes: 1) the Biophotonics program; 2) the Biosensing program; 3) the Cellular and Biochemical Engineering program; and 4) the Disability and Rehabilitation Engineering program.
The goal of the Engineering of Biomedical Systems (EBMS) program is to provide opportunities for creating fundamental and transformative research projects that integrate engineering and life sciences to solve biomedical problems and serve humanity in the long term. Projects are expected to use an engineering framework (for example, design or modeling) that supports increased understanding of physiological or pathophysiological processes. Projects must include objectives that advance both engineering and biomedical sciences.
Projects may include: methods, models, and enabling tools applied to understand or control living systems; fundamental improvements in deriving information from cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems; or new approaches to the design of systems that include both living and non-living components for eventual medical use in the long term.
The EBMS program supports fundamental and transformative research in the following areas of biomedical engineering:
- Development of validated models (living or computational) of healthy and pathological tissues and organ systems that can support improved fundamental understanding of these systems or development and testing of medical interventions;
- Design and validation of systems that integrate living and non-living components for improved understanding, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of disease or injury;
- Advanced biomanufacturing of three-dimensional tissues and organs;
- Design and subsequent application of technologies and tools, including those that leverage an organism’s microbiome, to investigate fundamental physiological and pathophysiological processes; and
- Application of engineering tools and principles, including mathematical modeling, to quantitatively study the immune system in health and disease and to develop techniques for controlling and modulating a host’s immune response to challenges such as infectious diseases, cancer, implants, autoimmune disorders, wounds, etc.
Innovative proposals outside of these specific areas of biomedical engineering may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is strongly recommended that the PIs contact the program director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review. Related programs also fund biomedical engineering research, and PIs are encouraged to examine these to find the appropriate program for submission.
The long-term impact of the projects can be related to fundamental understanding of cell and tissue function in normal and pathological conditions, effective disease diagnosis and/or treatment, or improved health care delivery.
The EBMS program does not support proposals having as their central theme drug design and delivery, the development of biomedical devices that do not include a living biological component, or the development of animal models of disease. For consideration by the EBMS program, proposals that advance the design of tools or technologies should also apply those technologies to advance knowledge in biomedical science. NSF does not support clinical trials; however, feasibility studies involving human volunteers may be supported if appropriate to the project objectives.
Furthermore, although research on biomaterials, cellular biomechanics, or manufacturing systems may constitute a part of the proposed studies, such research cannot be the central theme or key focus area of the proposed work. Biomaterials-focused projects should consider the Biomaterials (BMAT) program in the Division of Materials Research (DMR), while cellular biomechanics projects should consider the Biomechanics and Mechanobiology (BMMB) program and manufacturing systems proposals should consider the Advanced Manufacturing (AM) program, both in the Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI).
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 of success in the research on society and/or industry. 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. Details about RAPID, EAGER, and GOALI are available in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Part 1, Chapter II, Section E: Types of Proposals.
Compliance: Proposals that are not compliant with the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) will be returned without review.
Steven M. Zehnder