REQUEST FOR IDEAS
Marine Microbiology and Marine Microbial Ecology Research
MMI Request for Ideas (RFI) (PDF, 192KB)
MMI RFI Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 148KB)
MMI RFI Biographical Sketch Instructions (PDF, 50KB)
MMI RFI Biographical Sketch Example (PDF, 68KB)
November 9, 2010 Marine Microbiology Initiative Request for Ideas Now Closed.
July 7, 2011 Update on Request for Ideas:
The 288 idea summaries we received enabled MMI—in consultation with numerous advisors—to identify its new areas of scientific inquiry and to develop new grantmaking strategies for the program. These science focus areas and strategic plan have been approved by the GBMF Board of Trustees and will begin to be implemented in 2011 and 2012.
We are soliciting ~30 proposals based on the submitted idea summaries, of which we anticipate funding 25-30% over the next 18 months.
We will focus on supporting research that tackles a black box the community identified as both a challenge and an opportunity: how and why the many groups of marine microorganisms interact and what the functional consequences are of those interactions. The outcome for MMI’s next phase is: “A new paradigm will be established for uncovering the underlying principles that govern inter- and intra-domain microbial interactions and that influence the flow of nutrients in representative marine microbial ecosystems.” The selected science focus areas are to increase understanding of (1) the interactions between organisms from all domains of life (who interacts with whom, how, when, and the consequences thereof) and (2) the flow of nutrients through microbial food webs (who eats and secretes what, where and when) and the resulting biogeochemical transformations. The new phase builds on the first phase, making use of knowledge, data, technologies, methods, and theory resulting from MMI and others’ support, and the learning obtained through executing on its strategies.
While the RFI process is now completed, it is important to simultaneously communicate that a wide array of additional grantmaking will occur as part of MMI’s next phase, and both the idea summaries and individual contributors to the idea summaries will serve as a rich resource for future MMI grantmaking.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's (GBMF) Marine Microbiology Initiative (MMI) has supported research in marine microbiology and marine microbial ecology since 2004. Building on advances in the field, the initiative is preparing to enter its next phase. It is seeking input from the international scientific community to identify the most promising opportunities where a strategic, focused effort over the next five years will help to break open black boxes in the field and take understanding of marine microbial communities to a new level.
Excellent progress has been made toward the understanding of microbial diversity in the sea, making it clear that most ecosystems contain large numbers and varieties of microbial inhabitants from multiple domains (e.g. archaea, bacteria, eukaryota, viruses) that interact with one another and with their surrounding environment. Identifying, quantifying, and modeling the complex biological, physical, and chemical interactions that, in sum, produce functioning microbial ecosystems is very challenging. Therefore, the goal for the next phase of the initiative is to target research toward understanding: the specific functional roles of community members ("who's doing what?"), functional relationships within microbial communities ("who's interacting with whom?"), and the environmental parameters that affect both microbial community structure and function ("how does the environment affect them and vice versa?").
This Request for Ideas (RFI) seeks the research community's most creative ideas to initiate the process below. What systems and integrated approaches are best poised to tackle these challenges? Which emerging technologies, methods, and new theories would significantly advance the broad field of environmental microbial ecology? While the emphasis during MMI's second phase will remain on marine systems, submission of ideas using other microbial systems that would contribute to furthering knowledge the marine field is welcome. Researchers interested in contributing an RFI for consideration by GBMF should submit a two-page idea summary by November 8, 2010, following the criteria described below.
Idea Summary Specifications:
Idea summaries must address each of the bulleted points below.
- The research goal should be ambitious and take risks. GBMF is looking for ideas that are bold but not impossible-highly innovative approaches that while risky, have the potential if successful, for high impact in the long term, and clear progress in the near term. A statement is required explaining why the idea is unlikely to be funded now through conventional government funding mechanisms, but could lead to such funding in the future.
In addition to specifying the specific goal(s) and question(s) to be addressed, the idea summary should describe the environment(s) or system(s) to be used for the proposed study. Each point below should be addressed if applicable for the specific research, technology, method, and/or theory described. GBMF is particularly interested in the following attributes:
- The environment(s)/system(s) is(are) already well-characterized with current methodologies with respect to physico-chemical parameters, community composition, and relevant ecosystem functioning. The key point here is that there should be a solid baseline to drive hypotheses that the proposed idea will address.
- The results obtained will either be generalizable to many environments or will contribute to solving an important problem in the selected environment/system in the short term.
- The ecosystem should display a tractable level of complexity that will allow significant progress in a five-year time period.
- Aspects of the ecosystem are manipulable. It should be possible to design and carry out laboratory and/or field experiments to test hypotheses and models derived from observations that lead to the generation of new hypotheses.
- Describe how your specific idea for a focused project will address a high-level question targeted toward the goal stated in bold above. Idea summaries should begin with one of the following sentences:
This project to understand _______ in environment/system _______ will address _______.
This technology/method/theory to enable _______ will address _______.
The ideas proposed should be achievable within a specified multi-year timeframe (two to five years) within the suggested funding levels noted below. We anticipate eventually funding projects at multiple levels, but as a guide for eventual funding levels, use a range of ~$100K-300K (per year direct costs) for single investigator projects and a range of ~$300K-$2M (per year direct costs) for larger projects requiring an interdisciplinary team. As the idea summary is a first step in a multi-step process, do not include budgets in the submitted materials. For team proposals, biographical sketches must be included for each lead collaborator and all co-leads (i.e. each team member with a demonstrated independent research record). There is no limit on the number of co-leads.
Projects that will not be competitive as idea summaries include:
- Studies examining only the diversity of organisms within ecosystems.
- Projects that only use sequencing approaches (genome, metagenome, transcriptome, metatranscriptome).
- Ideas for training grants or courses.
- Facilities and infrastructure.
Submission details and submitter qualifications:
The idea summary (two pages maximum) must be submitted electronically as a PDF to email@example.com by Monday, November 8, 2010. Idea summaries must fit on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with 12-point font or larger and margins no smaller than 0.75 inches. Because of the page limitation, figures or references should be minimal and are not required. In addition, a separate two-page biographical sketch for the author is required (click here for details on requirements and an example biographical sketch).
Submitters must be employed at an institution with a track record of externally funded research, have a demonstrated ability to carry out independent research, and a strong publication record in top-tier peer-reviewed journals. Researchers from any country may submit an idea summary. Only one idea summary will be accepted per lead researcher. However, a researcher may participate in a maximum of two submissions (one as lead and the other as co-lead, or two as co-lead). As the idea summary is not a pre-proposal or proposal, institutional approval is not needed at this stage. However, institutional approval will be required if the idea is chosen as a topic to be developed into a full proposal at a later date. Thus, the submitter must have an institutional appointment that permits him/her to submit proposals.
GBMF, in consultation with external advisors, will review the idea summaries and choose a subset of the most exciting opportunities for further exploration, which best align with the Foundation's goals. GBMF will identify synergistic ideas and encourage collaborations during subsequent project development.
Please review the frequently asked questions.