This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will support research in the burgeoning field of synthetic biology. The overarching goals of this FOA are 1) to develop tools and technologies to control and reprogram biological systems, 2) to increase the fundamental understanding of synthetic biology concepts as they relate to human health, 3) to gain fundamental biological knowledge, 4) to apply synthetic biology approaches for the development of biomedical technologies, and 5) to encourage the participation of early stage investigators in synthetic biology.
Synthetic biology for human health is advancing, but major challenges, such as the inability to engineer robust complex metabolic and signaling networks or to produce cells with reliable and predicable behavior once in the host, currently limit application. This FOA encourages the development of tools and technology to tackle challenges in biomedical research and in cell-based therapies and diagnostics. Specific topics of interest include, but are not limited to, those listed below.
- Cell-free and cell-based systems for testing and analyzing biological systems and for the efficient and scalable synthesis of complex biological products
- Cell-free (prototyping genetic circuits, discovering and evolving enzymes, and conducting biomolecular reactions)
- Cell-based (materials and pharmaceutical production, microbiome reprogramming, diagnostics)
- Natural and engineered biological circuits for implementing regulation and decision-making strategies in cells (modeling, analysis, design, and use of biological circuits, cell-cell communication, gene regulation, computation strategies)
- Expanding biochemical functionality (novel genetic alphabets, changing molecular machinery of the cell, constructing genomically recoded organisms, genetically encoded reporters)
- Advanced genome editing techniques for manipulating DNA (computational algorithms, zinc finger nucleases, TAL effector nucleases, CRISPR-Cas9)
- Design and evolution strategies to construct biological systems (directed evolution, continuous evolution, multiplexed evolution)