"NIMBioS has united the forces of mathematical and computational biology communities and forever changed the landscape of mathematical biology research and education in the US and the world."
NIMBioS is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Synthesis Center supported through NSF's Biological Sciences Directorate via a Cooperative Agreement with the University of Tennessee totaling more than $35 million over ten years. Supporting cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary research at the interface of mathematics and biology, NIMBioS offers a range of fellowships for visiting scientists and educators each year. Since March 2009 when NIMBioS programs officially began, NIMBioS research and educational activities have included more than 8,500 visits by individuals from more than 55 countries and every U.S. state, which have led to the publication of more than 900 journal articles.
A major goal of mathematical models and analysis in biology is to provide insight into the complexities arising from the non-linearity and hierarchical nature of biological systems. Primary goals of NIMBioS are to foster the maturation of cross-disciplinary approaches in mathematical biology and to foster the development of a cadre of researchers who are capable of conceiving and engaging in creative and collaborative connections across disciplines to address fundamental and applied biological questions. Our vision for NIMBioS is to efficiently utilize NSF funding: 1) to address key biological questions by facilitating the assembly and productive collaboration of interdisciplinary teams and 2) to foster development of the critical and essential human capacity to deal with the complexities of the multi-scale systems that characterize modern biology.
Human capacity building is fostered through: direct mentoring of new researchers (including undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows); outreach efforts in collaboration with professional societies to educate biologists about mathematical and computational approaches found to be broadly useful in biological application; connections to institutions serving under-represented groups; a "research experience for undergraduates" summer program that incorporates high school teachers; and varying levels of tutorial workshops designed to enlighten biologists about key quantitative methods. At the same time, we assist mathematicians to identify new mathematical challenges arising from current biological research.
Broader Impacts: The nature of the questions addressed by NIMBioS span all of biology, thus impacting both basic and applied science. These broad impacts range from specific models and applications (physiological integration, disease projection, reserve design) to fundamental questions about human origins, biosphere functioning, and the emergence of biological patterns at diverse scales. NIMBioS is a primary location for the rapid analysis of numerous questions of direct public policy concern, from the impacts of biofuel development, to the ongoing challenges of invasions of non-native species, to global change issues related to human activity.
Before NIMBioS, mathematical biology had benefited from the large impact of relatively few individuals and programs that have trained the vast majority of active researchers at this interface. NIMBioS fostered the next step: continuing the development of individuals trained at this interface, but also fostering the development of entire programs that are equipped to educate the array of mathematically competent, biologically knowledgeable and computationally adept researchers needed to address the vast array of challenging questions in this century of biology.
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Five-year Brochure. NIMBioS' accomplishments during its first five years of funding