Biological SciencesThe FY 1999 Budget Request for the Biological Sciences Activity (BIO) is $417.82 million, an increase of $47.0 million, or 12.7 percent, over the FY 1998 Current Plan of $370.82 million.
The Biological Sciences Activity provides support for research to advance understanding of the underlying principles and mechanisms governing life. Research ranges from the study of the structure and dynamics of biological molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, through cells, organs and organisms, to studies of populations and ecosystems. It encompasses processes that are internal to the organism as well as those that are external, and includes temporal frameworks ranging from measurements in real time through individual life spans, to the full scope of evolutionary time.
The highest priority within the BIO Activity is to support the vitality of the biological sciences at U.S. colleges and universities, especially in those areas where NSF has major responsibility. The Foundation is the nation's principal supporter of fundamental academic research in environmental biology, biodiversity, computational biology, bioinformatics, and plant biology.
The Plant Genome Research Subactivity (PGR), begun in FY 1998, supports research that will advance understanding of the structure, organization and function of plant genomes. This effort is built upon an existing base of genome research supported throughout the BIO activity. Enhanced support for fundamental research will accelerate utilization of new knowledge and innovative technologies toward a more complete understanding of basic biological processes in plants, with emphasis on economically significant species such as corn.
More than 85 percent of BIO funding is directed toward investigator-initiated, fundamental research, predominantly in colleges and universities, across the United States. Emphasis is placed on support for studies that enrich the fundamental knowledge base, for projects integrating research and education, and for high risk/high potential research. BIO also places a high priority on support for new investigators beginning their scientific careers; approximately one-third of all new competitive research awards made by BIO are to new investigators. BIO plays a major role in support of research resources for the biological sciences including multi-user instrumentation, living stock centers, genome sequencing, systematics collections, and computerized databases.
In FY 1999, the BIO Activity will increase funding by a total of $47.0 million. A significant portion of this increase will be directed toward enhancing research support in three broad, overlapping NSF themes: Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI), Life and Earth's Environment (LEE) and Educating for the Future (EFF). The remainder of the increase will be directed to research activities outside of these themes to build the knowledge base essential to the next breakthroughs in scientific research and to identify potential investment opportunities.