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Physiological and Structural Systems

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 24-546 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


The Physiological and Structural Systems Cluster supports research aimed at furthering the understanding of organisms as integrated units of biological organization.  The Cluster considers proposals focused on interacting physiological and structural systems, their environmental and evolutionary contexts, and how these components are constrained by their integration into the whole organism.  Projects that use systems approaches to understand why particular patterns of architecture and regulatory control have emerged as general organismal properties are particularly encouraged.  Understanding how and why emergent organismal properties such as robustness, adaptability and resilience arise in the context of environmental, genetic, biochemical and morphological variation are of interest.  The Cluster encourages model building to augment traditional experimental approaches in order to guide research on complex functional networks.  Multidisciplinary approaches to the study of organismal systems including research at the interfaces of biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science and engineering are encouraged in each of the following areas.

Symbiosis, Defense and Self-recognition - This programmatic area supports research on the processes and structures that mediate intimate interactions between two or more organisms.  Proposals are encouraged that focus on the dynamics of initiation, dissolution and stability of these complex associations through studies of underlying processes of communication, immunological recognition and signaling, feedbacks, and reciprocal responses between interactors.  All aspects of symbiosis, including commensalisms, mutualisms, parasitism and host-pathogen interactions are included.

Processes, Structures and Integrity - The focus of this programmatic area is on understanding the unity of organisms as complex systems through studies of coherent, structural and functional properties and interactions.  Systems approaches that predict or reveal the nature of coordination among functional processes and/or structural components as a means to further the understanding of organismal integrity and emergent properties are particularly encouraged.

Organism-Environment Interactions - The focus of this programmatic area is on the structures and processes that affect organismal performance and interactions during routine, changing, or stressful environmental conditions.  The program seeks proposals aimed at understanding how interactions among genetic, biochemical, morphological and physiological processes result in integrated organismal responses.  Increasing emphasis is placed on understanding how and why such interactions result in emergent properties such as adaptability, plasticity, and robustness (i.e., both resistance and resilience).  Special emphasis is placed on projects that adopt systems approaches, including quantitative and qualitative analysis, theoretical models and prediction to understand the dynamics and control of organismal responses to the environment from near term to evolutionary time frames.

Summary Award Information - In FY 2010, the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems funded 17% of submitted proposals, and the mean annual award was $216,556.

Program Directors:

Michael Mishkind. Processes, Structures & Integrity; Symbiosis, Defense & Self-recognition

Mark R. Brodl. Processes, Structures & Integrity; Symbiosis, Defense & Self-recognition

Carol A. Burdsal.  Processes, Structures & Integrity

Hannah V. Carey.  Processes, Structures & Integrity

Irwin Forseth.  Organism-Environment Interactions

Mary Beth Saffo.  Symbiosis, Defense & Self-recognition

William E. Zamer.  Processes, Structures & Integrity







Updates and announcements

Program contacts

Michael Mishkind
mmishkin@nsf.gov (703) 292-8413
Mark R. Brodl
mbrodl@nsf.gov (703) 292-8413
Carol A. Burdsal
cburdsal@nsf.gov (703) 292-8413
Hannah V. Carey
hcarey@nsf.gov (703) 292-8413
Irwin Forseth
iforseth@nsf.gov (703) 292-8413 BIO/IOS
Mary Beth Saffo
msaffo@nsf.gov (703) 292-8413
William E. Zamer
wzamer@nsf.gov (703) 292-8413

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