Funding Opportunity – NSF Announces Two Lead Agency Opportunities in Collaboration with International Partners

On August 31, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced, via two Dear Colleague Letters (DCL), new opportunities to support international collaboration.  Specifically, the two DCLs will enable collaborative projects in specific research areas with the UK and with France to undergo a single review under lead agency agreements.  Both lead agency opportunities allow for reciprocal acceptance of merit review through unsolicited mechanisms with the goal of reducing barriers for working internationally.  NSF supports several lead agency agreements across the organization with various international partners.

The first DCL between the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences (NSF/BIO) and the UK Research Innovation (UKRI) Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) announces the lead agency opportunity in Biological Informatics, Microbes and the Host Immune System, Quantum Biology and Synthetic Cells.  Proposals must be aligned to priorities in the identified NSF BIO divisions and BBSRC’s Responsive Mode priorities and provide a clear rationale for the need for a US-UK collaboration in these areas, including the unique expertise and synergy that the collaborating groups will bring to the project.  Prior to submission, teams must decide where the largest proportion of research lies (NSF BIO or UKRI BBSRC) and then contact the appropriate program officer at the lead agency to discuss and then confirm that that agency will act as the lead agency.

The second DCL is between the NSF Division of Physics in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences and Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences in BIO (NSF/PHY and NSF/MCB) and the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) to support collaborations at the Physics – Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Interface, again through the lead agency opportunity.  Proposals under this DCL must address the priorities of each of the participating entities and provide a clear rationale for the need for a US-France collaboration, including the unique expertise and synergy that the collaborating groups will bring to the project.  Per the DCL, “projects providing innovative methodological or conceptual approaches to a biological question and with a strong theoretical physics component are strongly encouraged.”

Award Information:  Proposers should note that these new lead agency opportunities do not represent new funding and will be in competition with other proposals submitted to the priority areas and agency programs identified in the DCLs.  Please see each DCL for more detailed information.


  • For the UKRI/BBSRC-NSF/BIO Lead Agency Opportunity, Intentions to Submit are due October 21, 2020 and feedback is expected three weeks after the submission deadline.  Full proposals for UKRI/BBSRC are due January 2021 while full proposals to NSF/BIO are accepted anytime.
  • For the ANR – NSF/PHY/MCB Lead Agency Opportunity, proposals will be reviewed by ANR.  The deadline to submit letters of intent (or submission of the registration file) to ANR is December 1, 2020 (Paris time) and the full proposals are due to ANR by April 2021.

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