Biology Integration Institutes (BII)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

In the last century, the study of biology has slowly fragmented into subdisciplines, creating a dynamic tension between unifying principles and increasingly reductionist pursuits. The aim of this solicitation is to bring researchers together around the common goal of understanding how the processes that sustain life and enable biological innovation operate and interact within and across different scales of organization, from molecules to cells, tissues to organisms, species, ecosystems, biomes and the entire Earth. The Biology Integration Institutes (BII) program supports collaborative teams of researchers investigating questions that span multiple disciplines within and beyond biology.

Integration across biological disciplines is essential if we hope to understand the diverse and ever-increasing data streams of modern biology and tackle emergent questions about living organisms and the environment. Of equal importance is the need for groundbreaking and sustainable training programs that prepare the next generations of scientists to navigate the breadth of biological sciences, training in multiple disciplines without sacrificing depth of learning or innovation.  In addition, the biology community must continue to develop practices and adopt strategies that leverage rapid advances in cyberinfrastructure and other technologies to bridge and integrate across subdisciplines and make resources accessible, re-usable, and adaptable for unanticipated purposes. In these ways,BIO Integration Institutes will enable the discoveries of life’s innovations that will inspire new applications to drive our bioeconomy and provide solutions to societal challenges.

While this solicitation focuses on the integration of biological disciplines, any field beyond biology may be included as needed to address the overarching biological theme.  Proposals may be submitted in one of two tracks: (1) Design proposals are for teams to develop communities and groundbreaking ideas to be submitted to later competitions as Implementation proposals through diverse and sustained activities, including workshops and follow-up meetings. (2) Implementation proposals are for teams that have already a) developed an Integrative Research Plan around a theme of significance, b) designed an educational approach that employs effective methods for depth and breadth of training, AND c) prepared a cohesive and sustainable Management Plan that is ready for deployment.


  • Required Letter of Intent Deadline Date: December 20, 2019 (For Implementation Proposals Only)

  • Full Proposal Deadline Date: February 6, 2020

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.

A person may be PI or co-PI on no more than ONE proposal, including both Implementation and Design proposals.

Amount Description

In FY 2020, depending on the quality of submissions and the availability of funds:

  • Up to 10 Design awards will be awarded as Standard awards or Continuing Grants for 1-2 years and
  • Approximately 4-6 Implementation awards will be awarded as Cooperative Agreements as an initial commitment of 5 years with the possibility of a 5-year continuation.

Proposals Involving Multiple Organizations. Of the two types of collaborative proposal formats described in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide this solicitation allows only a single proposal submission with subawards administered by that lead organization (Chapter II.D.3.a). In the case of proposals involving multiple organizations, a single organization must be identified as the lead, and a single proposal describing the entire project must be submitted by that organization. Funds may be distributed among partner organizations via subawards from the lead organization. A budget on the standard NSF budget form should be submitted for each subawardee. The requirement for a single organization to submit the sole proposal for a project is designed to facilitate effective coordination among participating organizations and to avoid difficulties that ensue in funded projects when individuals change organizations and/or cease to fulfill project responsibilities.

Design awards can be of one or two years duration and no more than $200,000.

Implementation awards MUST be of five years duration and no more than $12,500,000 (i.e., an average of $2,500,000 per year). Each Implementation award will be made as a cooperative agreement to the lead organization, with an initial commitment for five years of support and a possibility of continuation for five additional years, subject to an evaluation of awardee performance, availability of funds, and review of an invited, renewal proposal.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

February 6, 2020