Dear Colleague Letter: Special Guidelines for Submitting Collaborative Proposals under U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of India Collaborative Research Opportunities

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

February 08, 2024

Dear Colleagues:

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of the Government of India have signed an Implementation Arrangement on research cooperation. The Implementation Arrangement provides a framework to encourage collaboration between U.S. and Indian research communities and sets out the principles by which joint activities might be supported. Through this research agency partnership, U.S. researchers may receive funding from NSF and India researchers may receive funding from DBT respectively.

This NSF-DBT collaborative research opportunity focuses specifically upon discoveries and innovations in areas of mutual interest to support advancing knowledge, technologies, and innovation that advance biotechnology and promote the bioeconomy.

Through a research agency partnership, NSF and DBT will allow investigators from both countries to collaborate to write a single proposal that will undergo a single review process at NSF, the Coordinating Agency.

The collaborative opportunity described in this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) remains in effect until archived.

There is only one round of proposal submissions related to this DCL. Proposals submitted to an NSF program that accepts proposals at any time must be submitted by April 11, 2024. Proposals submitted to any other participating NSF program must be submitted following the program due dates for calendar year 2024.

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Proposals may be submitted that address complex scientific challenges and innovate novel solutions that leverage advances in synthetic and engineering biology, systems and computational biology, and other associated fields that are foundational to developing future biomanufacturing solutions and advance the bioeconomy. Examples of challenge areas include but are not limited to:

  • Development of innovative tools, technologies, and resources for genome engineering, and genome manipulations of plants and other organisms of relevance in synthetic and engineering biology
  • Designing organelles (ribosomes, mitochondria, membranes, regulatory modules, molecular machines, etc.), or synthetic components that could be integrated into cells or cell-like systems
  • Understanding the biological principles for cell programming and strain engineering in microbes and host (plant) microbe interactions in phytobiomes and rhizosphere
  • Engineering DNA, RNA, and protein/enzyme
  • Modelling of metabolic networks and interactions among networks
  • Designing host expression system for recombinant proteins
  • Engineering novel microbial chassis
  • Developing and applying synthetic gene circuits
  • Engineering novel plant chassis
  • Predictive models of cells and subcellular systems that support mechanistic understanding and engineering design

Proposals submitted to this opportunity may focus on the development of foundational tools that would support all application spaces or focus on specific applications. Examples of application domains of interest include:

  • The production of smart proteins and high value small chemical molecules of industrial importance
  • Development of climate resilient crops as well as plants tailored as feedstocks
  • Engineering microorganisms for enhanced CO2 capture and conversion abilities
  • Expanding protein functional diversity to expand the biochemical diversity for bioeconomy applications
  • Engineering of microbial communities that reduce fertilizer use, enhance plant productivity, improve sustainability, and/or have the ability to improve the circularity of biomanufacturing production

The list of examples is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
International Opportunities
Social Sciences

External Deadline

April 11, 2024