As we wait and wonder about the future of the NIH budget, the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is expecting a 2.5% increase in 2012, has released a few funding opportunities that appear to represent a new direction. Most notably is CREATIV, or Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures. The purpose of this program is to support extremely innovative, interdisciplinary projects in all NSF-supported areas of sciences, including engineering, education and research. What makes this program so unique? No peer review. That’s right. In order to get your $800,000 to $1 million, you’ll have to win over the NSF program officers in at least two distinct programs or divisions. NSF expects to fund 40 to 50 CREATIV awards. Learn more on the NSF website.
The other surprise is the release of two programs that are more health focused than we’d expect to see from the NSF. First is Physical and Engineering Sciences in Oncology (PESO), which is designed to complement basic and clinical cancer research by introducing perspective from engineering and physical sciences. The second is Advancing Health Services through System Modeling Research, which, somewhat like PESO, seeks to facilitate collaboration between health services researchers and engineers.
Given current funding constraints and the NIH’s push toward more translational research, it makes sense that NSF may be taking on a new role in the biosciences funding arena. We’ll just have to wait and see how this trend plays out in upcoming months.