NSF-Simons Collaboration on a National Institute for Theory and Mathematics in Biology (NITMB)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The purpose of the NSF-Simons Collaboration on a National Institute for Theory and Mathematics in Biology (NITMB) is to support a research institute to enable innovative research at the intersection of mathematical and biological sciences to facilitate new developments of biology-inspired mathematical theories, methodologies, and innovative modeling approaches to advance the understanding of challenging biological problems. The institute should promote interdisciplinary education and workforce training between these two disciplines.  The National Science Foundation Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (NSF/MPS) and for Biological Sciences (NSF/BIO) and the Simons Foundation Division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences (SF/MPS) shall jointly sponsor a new research institute to facilitate collaborations among groups of mathematicians (including statisticians and computational scientists) and biologists. Research activities conducted at the institute should be focused on emerging and important topics at the interface of the mathematical and biological sciences, with the expectation to develop new mathematical methodologies inspired by biological problems. The institute should primarily focus on advances in theory and mathematics that are motivated by and applicable to the analysis of complex biological systems. The institute will conduct interdisciplinary education and training through research involvement of doctoral degree recipients and graduate students from across this multi-disciplinary spectrum. The institute is also expected to conduct convening activities, including short-term and/or long-term visitor programs, workshops, and/or outreach activities. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are expected to be core values of the institute and should be reflected in its research, education, outreach programs, and its leadership. The institute will serve as a national resource that aims to advance research in the mathematical and biological sciences through programs supporting discovery and knowledge dissemination in mathematical biology and enhancing connections to related fields.

Duke faculty interested in applying should contact Sohini Sengupta (sohini.sengupta@duke.edu) for institutional coordination and proposal development resources.


  • Required Preliminary Proposal Target Date: December 1, 2021

  • Full Proposal Target Date: July 18, 2022



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.

There are no restrictions or limits on the PI for the allowable organizations listed above. Federal agencies and federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) can only participate as subawardees. FFRDCs and federal agency scientists cannot serve as lead PI. Non-NSF sponsored FFRDCs are required to provide a letter of collaboration from their agency as a Supplementary Document by following guidance in the NSF PAPPG for instructions.

An individual may appear as PI, co-PI, or other senior personnel on no more than two preliminary or full proposals submitted in response to this solicitation. Other senior personnel include lead PIs on subawards. There is no limitation on unpaid consultants. Please be advised that if an individual's name appears as PI, co-PI or other senior personnel on more than two proposals, all proposals submitted after the first two proposals (based on the time-stamp) will be returned without review. In the event a preliminary proposal is not invited for a full proposal submission, any PI/co-PI/other senior personnel from a declined preliminary proposal is free to join an invited full proposal team at the full proposal organization’s and PI’s discretion. However, NSF and SF should be notified regarding any personnel changes before the full proposal submission.

Please note: All materials should be submitted to NSF. NSF will share all submitted materials with the Simons Foundation. Additionally, the Simons Foundation does not use the role of co-PI. Individuals on the Simons Foundation budget must be designated as PI, co-Investigator (“co-I”) or other role.



Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 1

One. NSF and the Simons Foundation expect to co-fund the institute. The institute funded by this program will receive two separate awards of equal size, one from NSF and one from SF. The form of each of these award instruments shall be determined by the funding agency.

Proposals must be written with a five-year plan for research, training, outreach, and other Broader Impact activities. The plan and budget must reflect a ramp-up of the institute’s activities during Years 1 and 2, with a full complement of activities implemented no later than the beginning of Year 3.


Anticipated Funding Amount: $50,000,000

NSF and the Simons Foundation expect to co-fund the institute. The total amount available for this solicitation is $50,000,000. Of this amount, NSF estimates that $25,000,000 will be available to support one institute award for an initial period of five years. The Simons Foundation estimates that $25,000,000 will be available to support the institute award over the five-year duration of the award. This plan is subject to the availability of funds.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

December 1, 2021