Funding Agency:
Beckman (Arnold and Mabel) Foundation

Advanced microscopy, enabled by recent advances in physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, and biology, is opening new windows into the anatomy and behavior of cells and tissues. While established modalities such as confocal, two-photon and super-resolution microscopies have contributed greatly to experimental investigations in many fields, the tradeoffs in speed, photo-damage, and resolution often limit our ability to capture complex cellular processes. Emerging light-sheet microscopy tools, however, are enabling rapid three-dimensional (3D) imaging of single molecules, living cells, organs, and even whole animals over time with minimal toxicity. The impact of technological breakthroughs using advanced light-sheet microscopy instrumentation and accompanying methods have the potential to create an unprecedented understanding of the intricate dynamics of cells and their components within living specimens.

Institutions that have made investments in advanced light sheet microscopy have observed that the size and complexity of the data obtained with these new 3D imaging capabilities have created a bottleneck to the advancement and wide-scale adoption of these technologies. There is a critical need for new strategies to address data collection, storage, image registration and organization, and subsequent image quantification and interpretation. This need will only be addressed through the close integration of data processing and analysis personnel together with imaging specialists and biologists to maximize the impact of these promising new technologies and will be central to future biological discoveries.

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation’s mission is to provide funding for promising technologies, particularly in cutting edge instrumentation and interfaces between disciplines. In support of this mission, the Foundation is requesting proposals for a one-time grant opportunity for the procurement and potential further development of groundbreaking advanced light-sheet instrumentation capabilities, including establishment of robust multidisciplinary science/technology teams involving data scientist collaborations within the research group. The Foundation will provide support of up to $1.2 million per site, which can be used for instrumentation acquisition, development, and maintenance; support for data science collaborations within the research teams; and costs for the proposed research programs. Applicant institution(s) must demonstrate their commitment for additional funding beyond the $1.2 million support from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, if necessary to complete the objectives of the program described below. Additional information on the institutional support requirements can be found in the template in the online application portal.

Proposals should be centered around core biological problems and a research program that is enabled by the dynamic, 3D, and long-term imaging capabilities of advanced light-sheet microscopy. Proposals shall include one-page descriptions of up to 3 distinct research project(s) to which the light-sheet capability will be applied that will represent significant advances within this larger research program. Additional consideration will be given to proposals that include other imaging, sensing, or analysis technologies as an integral part of one or more of the proposed research project(s).

An institutional proposal is currently being developed. Please contact Steve Murray with questions. (, 919 684 2123)

Pre-Proposal Submission Deadline: March 6, 2020

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

The Lead Institution submitting the proposal must be a nonprofit US university or research institution.

The proposed program team for this effort can include up to 3 co-PIs, with at least one of the co-PIs having demonstrated experience in successfully managing multi-disciplinary teams. The other optional co-PIs should also have significant roles within the program team, for example, in the research, engineering, or data analysis tasks. Inclusion and support of junior faculty and scientists is also a priority for the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, and successful proposals shall include interdisciplinary teams that include junior faculty and junior scientists, such as staff scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students, as integral components of the team. A training plan shall also be developed that specifically addresses how junior scientists will benefit from new training opportunities, especially training programs that will extend beyond the individual Institution or consortium.

The Foundation will consider proposals from individual institutions or from consortia of institutions whose combined resources will address the program requirements. For any consortium application, there must be a “Lead Institution”, defined as the institute that will maintain the purchased equipment on their property and will accept the entire grant award on behalf of the consortium.



Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

March 6, 2020