NSF Designing Synthetic Cells Beyond the Bounds of Evolution
NSF 21-531 https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2021/nsf21531/nsf21531.htm
Because of recent technological advances in synthetic biology and bioengineering, researchers are now able to tailor cells and cell-like systems for a variety of basic and applied research purposes. The goal of this solicitation is to support research that (1) develops cell-like systems to identify the minimal requirements for the processes of life, (2) designs synthetically-modified cells to address fundamental questions in the evolution of life or to explore biological diversity beyond that which currently exists in nature, and (3) leverages basic research in cell design to build novel synthetic cell-like systems and cells for innovative biotechnology applications.
Additional Considerations: In concert with technology development, educating students and the lay public will also be important to ensure an accurate understanding of the scientific advances resulting from the development and use of designer cells. Responsive proposals must address the social, ethical and/or biosafety/security issues of the designer cells. There will be serious consideration given to proposals that include the expertise of social scientists as a funded collaborator on the project and characterize how social science, ethics, and/or biosafety expertise is integrated to the project.