Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI)



National Science Foundation (NSF)




Computer Science
Information Sciences
Eligibility Qualifications


Academic institution
Post PhD
Max Amount

Maximum amount: 


Activities funded: 


Due date: 


The Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI) program seeks to encourage new approaches to the analysis and dissemination of biological knowledge for the benefit of both the scientific community and the broader public. The ABI program is especially interested in the development of informatics tools and resources that have the potential to advance--or transform--research in biology supported by the Directorate for Biological Sciences at NSF. The ABI program accepts three major types of proposals: Innovation awards that seek to pioneer new approaches to the application of informatics to biological problems, Development awards that seek to provide robust cyberinfrastructure that will enable transformative biological research, and Sustaining awards that seek to support ongoing operations and maintenance of existing cyberinfrastructure that is critical for continued advancement of priority biological research. Multidisciplinary research is encouraged. The ABI program encourages innovation, development or sustained availability in areas that may include (but are not limited to): (1) New data types, algorithms, and methods for recognizing and understanding complexity and connectivity in biological systems across multiple scales of organization from molecules to ecosystems; (2) algorithms, software or ontologies related to the retrieval, integration, and use of heterogeneous biological information, for example, data-mining, search, portals, semantic integration or visualization; (3) tools that facilitate biological research work-flows, analytic pathways, or integration between the field and the laboratory, or between observation, experiments and models; (4) software and methods for making use of new technologies for the acquisition, communication or visualization of biological data; (5) new methods and tools for the construction, operation, and utilization of biological databases, including research into database architectures and infrastructures, data standards designed to be extendable to different biological domains, and data structures for new types of biological information; and (6) informatics tools and approaches that bridge interdisciplinary differences in concepts and data between biology and other sciences. The ABI program has defined three types of awards in order to appropriately align funding levels and review criteria. (A) Innovation Awards are distinguished by a high degree of novelty and potential impact. The scope of the proposal should be focused on one discreet, or several very tightly coupled, problem(s) in biological informatics. Outcomes will typically be publication of new methodologies, proof of concept, or production of a prototype for further development. Innovation awards enable a team to solve challenging, high risk problems with relatively shorter timelines and less complex management plans; (B) Development Awards involve the development of a finished product that will have demonstrable impact in advancing biological research. Development awards convey their likelihood of success through greater attention to user engagement, design quality, engineering practices, management plan, and dissemination. Budgets and award durations should accommodate the iterative process of bringing a proof of concept into a robust, broadly adopted cyberinfrastructure; and (C) Sustaining Awards provide limited support for the cost of ongoing operations and maintenance of existing cyberinfrastructure that is critical for the continued advance of priority biological research. The merit of Sustaining awards will be measured by the science impacts of the proposed resource to date and by the justification for projected impacts during the award period. Requests for Sustaining awards may not include funds for research or development leading to new capabilities or features, but must be limited to activities and materials essential for maintaining the current level of functionality. Budgets must describe only those expenses to be covered with the NSF funds and may not reference expenses covered by other sources of funding. The ABI program encourages proposals that conduct collaborative and planning activities such as workshops, network retreats, exchange visits, and the development of virtual organization frameworks. Those activities that promote interaction between the computational sciences and biology communities, as well as innovative networking strategies that foster research collaborations or enable new research directions, are especially encouraged. ABI does not provide support for recurring conferences, but may consider proposals to support student participation in specific training activities or networking opportunities which will broaden participation and human resource development in priority research areas. Activities that foster participation of colleagues at small institutions, minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and secondary school teachers are also recommended. Investigators are expected to incorporate undergraduate training into their research and make provisions in their budget accordingly. Supplements for Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) will be considered only for unanticipated opportunities for broadening participation. The ABI program will place a higher priority on proposals to create computational/informatics tools and database architectures that are applicable to a broad range of biological research questions. Proposals to develop tools or databases that are needed for a specific research project or lab environment should be submitted to the relevant BIO programs that would normally support that project.


Funding Opportunities Keywords: 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Elizabeth Stahmer, M.S.
Manager, Grants and Contracts
Graduate Research Associate