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Office of the Vice President for Research


National Science Foundation
Deadline Notes: 
Full Proposal Accepted Anytime


The Biosensing program is part of the Engineering Biology and Health cluster, which also includes 1) the Biophotonics program; 2) the Cellular and Biochemical Engineering program; 3) the Disability and Rehabilitation Engineering program; and 4) the Engineering of Biomedical Systems program.

The Biosensing program supports fundamental engineering research on devices and methods for measurement and quantification of biological analytes. Examples of biosensors include, but are not limited to, electrochemical/electrical biosensors, optical biosensors, plasmonic biosensors, and paper-based and nanopore-based biosensors. In addition to advancing biosensor technology development, proposals that address critical needs in biomedical research, public health, food safety, agriculture, forensic, environmental protection, and homeland security are highly encouraged. Proposals that incorporate emerging nanotechnology methods are especially encouraged.

Areas of interest include:

·         multiplex biosensing platforms that exceed the performance of current state-of-the-art devices;

·         novel transduction principles, mechanisms and sensor designs suitable for measurement in practical matrix and sample-preparation-free approaches, including error-free detection of pathogens and toxins in food matrices, waterborne pathogens, parasites, toxins, biomarkers in body fluids, neuron chemicals, and others that improve human condition;

·         biosensors that enable measurement of biomolecular interactions in their native states, transmembrane transport, intracellular transport and reactions, and other biological phenomena;

·         biosensing performance optimization for specific health applications such as point-of-care testing and personalized health monitoring;

·         miniaturization of biosensors for lab-on-a-chip and cell/organ-on-a-chip applications to enable measurement of biological properties and functions of cell/tissues in vitro;

·         biosensing systems with integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning;

·         biosensors that exploit quantum correlations to develop a suite of analytical tools that will have superior performance over ordinary classical biosensing technology; and

·         biosensors that leverage unique electrical properties of biomolecules, such as DNA; proteins; cells; and the nervous system to develop miniaturized biomedical devices for modulating and characterization of biological species.

The Biosensors Program does not encourage proposals addressing surface functionalization and modulation of bio-recognition molecules, development of basic chemical mechanisms for biosensing applications, circuit design for signal processing and amplification, computational modeling, and microfluidics for sample separation and filtration. Medical imaging-based measurements are outside of the scope of the program interests. Proposals that rely heavily on descriptive approaches are given lower priority. Proposals for optimizing and/or utilizing established methods for specific applications should be directed to programs focused on the application of sensor technology.

Innovative ideas outside of the above specific interest areas may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the proposal being returned without review. 

NOTE: Projects related to water/soil quality may be jointly supported with the Environmental Engineering program (CBET 1440). Photonic devices with medical imaging and/or optogenetics should be submitted to Biophotonics (CBET 7236). Devices for tissue engineering should be submitted to Engineering of Biomedical Systems (CBET 5345). Basic chemical/biochemical sensing mechanisms should be submitted to the MPS Division of Chemistry's Chemical Measurement and Imaging program (CHE/CMI 6880). Proposals for dynamic biosensing systems, including circuit design for signal/data processing and amplification, and sensing systems through communication and machine learning should be submitted to the ECCS Division's Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems (ECCS/CCSS 7564).

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