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What is life, and what are its limits? How did it originate, and what fundamental mechanisms allow for the startling novelty of form and function? What processes led to the evolution of humanity, and can we predict future evolutionary outcomes?

The Life Sciences portfolio supports research and engagement projects on such questions. We are particularly interested in applications that seek novel and fundamental insights into the meaning and significance of life processes, by which we can better understand humanity’s place within nature. We support experimental and theoretical work on a broad range of areas and topics, including origins of life, complexity, emergence, evolution, human development, and ecological health and interventions.

This year we would like to receive project ideas in the following topic areas:

1.) Science of purpose. We are looking for experimental and theoretical research projects that will provide insight into the purposive, goal-directed, or agential behaviors that characterize organisms and various components of living systems. Researchers who have familiarity with our ongoing work in this area are especially encouraged to apply.

2.) Epigenetic inheritance. We are interested in funding projects that elucidate fundamental genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate inter- and trans-generational transmittance of biological information and health outcomes. We are particularly interested in how early life choices and environmental exposures causally impact development and the early onset of disease, and diagnostic platforms that may predict generational disease susceptibility.

3.) Other areas of interest. We also remain open to innovative ideas in other areas of basic research in the biological sciences, such as also origins of life, complexity, emergence, evolution, human development, plant resilience, and ecological health and interventions.

Featured Grants

Project Leader(s): Alan Love
Grantee(s): Regents of the University of Minnesota
Project Leader(s): Michael Levin
Grantee(s): Tufts University
Project Leader(s): Sara Walker, Leroy Cronin
Grantee(s): Arizona State University Foundation for a New American University
Project Leader(s): Viviane Slon, Shmuel Safra
Grantee(s): Tel Aviv University
Project Leader(s): Betul Kacar
Grantee(s): The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Project Leader(s): Thomas Kroneis, Amy Boddy
Grantee(s): Medical University of Graz