Concepts in Biology

BIO AC Meeting, Oct. 18-19, 2007
Advancing innovation and competitiveness at the convergence of the life and physical sciences and engineering

BIO at NSF: Integrating with ACI

Amer. Comp. Init. (ACI) Fundamental Research 21st Century Workforce Transformative Facilities & Infrastructure Quality Merit Review

NSF Strategic Goals Discovery Learning Research Infrastructure Stewardship

BIO Priorities Core Programs, Emerging Frontiers Broadening participation activities NEON, Plant Cyber Collaborative, CEIN Transformative research, organizational change / managing the core

21 Century Innovation Will Rely on Biology

Discoveries at all levels of biology will reverberate throughout science and provide the transformational insights that will lead to practical solutions in seemingly unrelated research areas. (NRC Report)

Biology: Shaping the Future
• The 21st century will be “The Age of Biology” because classic grand challenges are now within reach.  Biological information is exploding  Ingenious new tools  Non-biologists are turning to living systems • BIO will advance the frontiers of knowledge at the intersection of the life and physical sciences and engineering

Biology: Shaping the Future
• Foster ACI relevant initiatives that support discovery at the intersection of the life and physical sciences • Understanding the “molecular basis of life”
• Discovery – From simple to complex: a single gene change is responsible for generating a more complex multichambered heart. • Discovery - “Small RNAs” are a ubiquitous, potent set of molecules that regulate cellular process including development, pathogen defense and stress response


• “Improving our understanding of global climate variability and change”
(OMB/OSTP Letter)

• Discovery – Research into Earth’s ancient climate reveals the importance of the biosphere in driving global change.

Managing the Core
Concepts in Biology
• Origins: Use Synthetic Biology to discover the molecular basis of life and develop and test models of emergent complexity • Energy: Expand knowledge of living energy-transduction systems to inform the development of new biology-based, renewable energy technologies. • Adaptation: Discover the underlying mechanisms that enable living organisms to survive, adapt to, and transform their environment.
Adaptation: Ecological Forecasting

Discovery Crenarchaeota, the first discovered nitrogen fixing archaea, are emerging as a major driver of the global carbon and nitrogen cycles

Origins: How, where, and when did life on Earth begin?
Open system chemistry

Model Digital Worlds
Charles Ofria, Claus O. Wilke (NSF/BIO)

• Where did the molecules necessary to
begin life originate? • How did the complex biological chemistry of life* emerge from pre-biotic chemistry and geochemistry? *Self-contained – The Cell *Self-sustaining - Energy *Self-perpetuating - Reproduction and Evolution • Are there alternative routes to life? Basic elements Encapsulated, selfsustaining biochemistry

Origins: How, where, and when did life on Earth begin?
Stanley Miller

Life as we know it

Transitions and transformations

Knowledge about the “Last Universal Common Ancestor” for life on Earth will define constraints on the pre-biotic conditions that gave rise to life and will inform our understanding of the onset and early evolution of life. Can the indispensable requirements for life—including the pre-biotic conditions and steps leading to life—be revealed by Synthetic Biology?

Energy: How is energy obtained and used by living systems to sustain life?
pho ton





Barry Bruce ( NSF/BIO)

What are the systems by which life forms obtain and use energy to sustain life? Understanding the wide variety of energy transduction systems will inspire and enable the development of biology-based technologies capable of delivering sustainable, renewable, efficient energy.

Assemble the basics


Energy: How is energy obtained and used by living systems to sustain life?
The discovery of new life forms on Earth will enhance our knowledge of selfsustaining energy systems.
Life as we know it.

A vast microbial world has yet to be incorporated into a fundamental concept of life’s history.
Microbes two miles down derive energy from radiation



Deep ocean Kilometers of water

Tullis Onstott, Lisa Pratt (NSF/GEO)

Life as we don’t know it.

Adaptation in the Story of Life: What has survived and how?
Adaptation and survival
Neo Martinez (NSF/BIO)

How have some life forms survived geological and climate altering events and successfully adapted to a transformed biosphere?

Knowledge of life’s resilience and adaptations to planetary change will require a theoretically and conceptually rich interdisciplinary effort.

Adaptation in the Story of Life: What will survive and how?


Understanding life’s resilience and adaptation to planetary change will enable realistic predictions for the future of life on Earth in response to: • Global climate change –
NEON • Human activities • Disruptive events • Fresh water depletion


BIO Environmental Science
• Global Climate Change

• Climate Change and Disruptive Events Restoring marine biodiversity • Dynamics of Earth’s Water System through an ecosystem based management approach is • Center for the Environmental Implications essential to avoid serious of Nanotechnology (CEIN)
threats to global food security, costal water quality and ecosystem stability

• National Ecological Observatory Network
• Research and development of environmental sensors and sensor networks, cyberinfrastructure, and enabling technologies • A goal of observing, modeling and analyzing a wide range of complex environmental systems.

National Science Foundation
Fiscal Year 2008 update

Waiting on a budget
Operating under a continuing resolution Not unusual for this time of year

National Science Foundation Fiscal Year 2008 update
 FY 2008 Administration’s request is $6.43 Billion, a 6.8 % increase over 2007  Research and Related Activities is $5.13 Billion, a 7.7 % increase over 2007
STATUS: House and Senate appropriation bills provide for R&RA funding similar to the administration request, but differ in extent of increased funding for Education and Human Resource (EHR) programs.

Reflects emphasis on American Competitiveness Initiative

National Science Foundation
Fiscal Year 2008 update
FY 2008 Request FY 2008 Request
Change over FY 2007 Request $ 25.15 47.31 47.22 7.53 47.15 102.70 8.24 17.58 4.39 26.80 31.63 0.04 $365.74 36574.0% % 4.1% 9.0% 9.1% 6.9% 6.3% 8.9% 3.9% 9.6% 10.8% 6.1% 13.7% 2.8% 7.7%

Research and Related Activities by directorate
FY 2008 R&RA Request by Directorate FY 2003 Actual (NSF Total) BIO CISE ENG (less SBIR/STTR) SBIR/STTR GEO MPS SBE OCI OISE OPP IA ARC Research & Related Activities Total Totals may not add due to rounding. FY 2006 FY 2007 Actual $5,369.34 Request 580.90 496.35 486.39 99.07 703.95 1,086.61 201.23 127.14 42.61 390.54 233.30 1.17 607.85 526.69 519.67 108.88 744.85 1,150.30 213.76 182.42 40.61 438.10 231.37 1.45

FY 2008 Request 633.00 574.00 566.89 116.41 792.00 1,253.00 222.00 200.00 45.00 464.90 263.00 1.49 $5,131.69

$4,449.25 $4,765.95

Challenges for the Future
• Conveying the message that biology is more than biomedicine • Creating the Directorate of the future • Managing novel research infrastructure in the context of long term research priorities
 

National Ecological Observatory Network Plant Cyberinfrastructure

NSF’s Role
Goal: Inspire a new generation of scientists, engineers, and educators to create new knowledge and technologies to sustain life on Earth, adapt to a changing world, and explore our universe. Why NSF: Success requires collaborative research and education across the range of sciences and engineering uniquely encompassed by NSF.

Chemistry, Geochemistry

Physical anthropology, Archaeology

Microbiology, Ecology

Plant biology, Biochemistry

Evolution, Astronomy, Astrobiology

Engineering, Synthetic biology, Computational and Mathematical modeling, Nanotechnology


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