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NIMBioS Working Groups

Working Groups are chosen to focus on major well-defined scientific questions at the interface between biology and mathematics that require insights from diverse researchers, typically meeting 2-4 times over a 2-year period. Participation is by invitation only. Requests for NIMBioS support for working groups are considered twice per year, with deadlines on March 1 and September 1, for activities beginning six months later. All areas of research at the interface of biology and mathematics will be considered, but we are especially interested in activities expanding beyond the areas of research supported to date. Potential organizers of activities in areas of molecular biology, cell biology, network biology, immunology and systems biology are particularly encouraged to submit requests for support of Working Groups or Investigative Workshops.

Listing of NIMBioS Working Groups with links to web pages for each group
Instructions for organizers of NIMBioS Working Groups
Reporting requirements for NIMBioS Working Groups

Call for Working Group Applications

NIMBioS Working Groups are chosen to focus on major scientific questions at the interface between biology and mathematics that require insights from diverse researchers. The questions to be addressed may be either fundamental, applied or both, and may be focused around a particular biological topic, or one from mathematics that is driven by biological insight. We are particularly interested in questions that integrate diverse fields, require synthesis at multiple scales, and/or make use of or require development of new mathematical/computational approaches.

Working Groups are relatively small (10-12 participants, including the organizers), focus on a well-defined topic and have well-defined goals and metrics of success (e.g., publications, database, software). Selection of Working Groups is based upon the potential scientific impact and inclusion of participants with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise that match the scientific needs of the effort. Organizers are responsible for identifying and confirming participants with demonstrated accomplishments and skills to contribute to the Working Group. Given this emphasis, working group activities rarely involve recently-trained researchers such as postdocs and graduate students. Participation by international researchers is encouraged, though generally there will not be more than 2-3 individuals from outside North America in a Working Group. Note that, typically, no more than 2 participants can be from the same institution. Working Groups typically meet 2-4 times over a two year period, with each meeting lasting 3-5 days; however the number of participants, number of meetings, and duration of each meeting is flexible, depending on the needs and goals of the Group. Plans can include visits to NIMBioS for subsets of Working Group members to collaborate with NIMBioS IT staff and researchers on Working Group needs.

Click here to visit a web page that provides instructions for organizers and describes best practices for conducting a successful NIMBioS Working Group.

Support will include travel, accommodation, and per diem. No salary support is provided, and no overhead is allowed.

Development of new experimental or observational data is outside the scope of NIMBioS Working Groups, though Working Group results may provide justification for the need for new empirical research and suggest priorities for such research.

A goal of NIMBioS is to enhance the cadre of researchers capable of interdisciplinary efforts across mathematics and biology. As part of this goal, NIMBioS is committed to promoting diversity in all its activities. Diversity is considered in all its aspects, social and scientific, including gender, ethnicity, scientific field, career stage, geography and type of home institution. Requests for support are required to provide an explicit diversity statement describing how the proposed list of participants achieves a broad level of diversity. Questions regarding diversity issues should be directed to Dr. Ernest Brothers, the NIMBioS Associate Director for Diversity Enhancement (diversity@nimbios.org). You can read more about our Diversity Plan on our NIMBioS Policies web page. The NIMBioS building is fully handicapped accessible.

Applications for Working Group support will be evaluated based upon the:

  1. expected level of contribution to science;
  2. feasibility to produce meaningful synthesis given the constraints of the Working Group process;
  3. qualifications, appropriate diversity of scientific backgrounds, and experience of the proposed participants;
  4. inclusion of diversity to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups with respect to gender, ethnicity, disability and geographic location;
  5. response to a clear national need;
  6. balance of topics across biology and mathematics; and
  7. clarity of explication as to why NIMBioS rather than some other venue is the most appropriate one to host this Working Group.

Working Group Application and Submission Process

NIMBioS applications for Working Group support should not exceed the length limits specified below (use 12-pt type fonts, single-space pages with at least 0.5 in margins).

The application process has two parts, an online summary form and a more detailed project description.

PART 1: Complete the online application form, available here.

PART 2: Submit an application in PDF format, organized as follows:

  1. Cover sheet (1 page)
    1. Descriptive Title
    2. Short Title (25 characters max)
    3. Name and contact information for at least two PIs (preferably at least one with biological expertise and one with mathematical/computational expertise)
    4. Project Summary (250 words max) - appropriate for public distribution on the NIMBioS web site
    5. Keywords (up to 5 keywords different from those used in the title)
    6. Proposed start and end dates; number of meetings, and length of each meeting
    7. Potential conflicts of interest with the members of the Advisory Boards or the NIMBioS Leadership Team.
  2. Main body (3 pages total)
    1. Problem statement - Clear and concise statement of the scientific problem to be addressed and why it is important. Provide sufficient details on both biological and mathematical/computational challenges that the group aims to tackle.
    2. Proposed activities - Brief description of the Working Group activities and why they are appropriate.
    3. Metric of success - What metrics are the most appropriate for evaluating the success of the first and any following meetings (e.g., papers, databases, software, etc).
  3. References
  4. Participants (1-1.5 pages)
    1. Include a table with 3 columns, as follows: first column: names; second column: affiliations (including departments); third column: areas of PhD and the areas of expertise most relevant for the Working Group. Working Groups are expected to have a balance of participants across areas of biology and mathematics/computation. Named individuals should be committed to participating in the project if funded. Working Groups are relatively small (10-12 participants, including the organizers). Remember also that, typically, no more than 2 participants can be from the same institution.
    2. Diversity Statement - Include a paragraph describing the various aspects of diversity in your participant list. Be specific. Diversity is considered in all its aspects, social and scientific, including gender, ethnicity, scientific field, career stage, geography and type of home institution.
    3. NIMBioS encourages groups that go beyond existing collaborations.
  5. Other information (1 page)
    1. Anticipated IT Needs - Briefly describe any needs for IT support that are important to the success of the proposed project, including support for coding, high performance computing, and development and maintenance of public databases.
    2. Anticipated support needs other than IT, including effort of NIMBioS-based students (undergraduate or graduate), post-docs and faculty. Note that we encourage inclusion of UT and ORNL researchers as participants in Working Groups, as appropriate.
    3. Budget: this is not in dollars, but do provide numbers of trips by year to NIMBioS broken down by number of US domestic and international participants and total days of local support. NIMBioS does not provide honoraria or stipends for Working Group participants.
  6. Short CV of the PIs (2 pages for each). Do not include talks, society memberships, nor papers in preparation.

Applications will be accepted in digital format only, as a pdf file. Graphics should be embedded directly into the application document. Note that applications should be submitted as a single pdf file including all of the components listed above (items 1-6).

Applications should be submitted electronically via email to cwelsh@nimbios.org.

Note that information contained in applications for NIMBioS support are governed by the NIMBioS Privacy Policy.

What We Do Not Fund

  • NIMBioS does not fund projects if the activity should be funded by another entity or can just as easily take place elsewhere.
  • NIMBioS does not fund collection of new empirical data or field research but does fund the development of models which produce new data.
  • NIMBioS does not fund projects requesting overhead or funds to be spent by the investigator at the investigator's home institution.
  • NIMBioS does not typically fund activities that involve medical and human health projects unless these projects involve new mathematical approaches to general problems.