• LOI: 12/20/2019
  • Proposal: 02/06/2020


  • Amount: $500,000 - $3M
  • Duration: 3-5 years


The Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL):Epigenetics Program includes participation from the Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Education and Human Resources (EHR), Engineering (ENG), Geosciences (GEO), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), and the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) at the National Science Foundation. The goals of the program are to foster crosscutting, interdisciplinary research on the epigenetic regulation of organismal phenotypes that integrates perspectives and research approaches from more than one of these directorates. This program aims to support projects that would not traditionally be supported through regular core programs of the participating directorates and offices. To that end, all proposals submitted to this program should identify two or more diverse and complementary disciplines involved, and how the project integrates them via interdisciplinary approaches.

Appropriate approaches for URoL:Epigenetics projects include, but are not limited to:

  • the use of cellular engineering and physical-chemical approaches to manipulate molecular and cellular components to understand cellular and organismal responses to environmental change;
  • investigation of physical, and chemical interactions that underlie epigenetic changes in the structure, packing, function, and dynamics of DNA, RNA and proteins;
  • development/ application of artificial intelligence to identify patterns that reveal the underlying principles to explain how environmental influences on the epigenome lead to phenotypic outcomes;
  • leveraging of existing experimental, observational or survey datasets to model or analyze relationships among environment, epigenetic processes, and phenotype, including across populations, species, or ecosystems;
  • the use of interdisciplinary biological, mathematical, computational, social and behavioral science methods to predict relationships among epigenetic mechanisms; physical, physiological and behavioral phenotypes; physical, social and built environments; and emergent properties at organismal and supra-organismal levels.

Projects may be laboratory, field, and/or computer based and may include a focus on terrestrial, aquatic, marine or polar organisms and ecosystems. Projects are encouraged to extend laboratory, experimental, or other research approaches beyond well-established model systems, individual populations, and controlled environments, and should address how generally the epigenetic mechanism under study explains and predicts the characteristics of living systems.

URoL:Epigenetics provides two tracks that support projects of different scale and scope:

  • URoL:Epigenetics Track 1 (Epigenetics 1): This track provides support for projects with a total budget (including indirect costs) of up to $500,000 and award duration of up to 3 years.
  • URoL:Epigenetics Track 2 (Epigenetics 2): This track provides support for projects with a total budget (including indirect costs) of up to $3,000,000 and award duration of up to 5 years.

Eligibility & Submission Requirements

An individual may appear as Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on only one proposal per annual cycle submitted in response to either submission track in this solicitation.

If an individual is listed as PI or co-PI on more than one proposal to this solicitation, all proposals in excess of the limit for any person will be returned without review in the reverse order received.

Contact Information

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

  • Rebecca Ferrell, SBE, telephone: (703) 292-7850, email:
  • Karla Heidelberg, GEO, telephone: (703) 292-2586, email:
  • Louise R. Howe, ENG, telephone: (703) 292-2548, email:
  • Simon Malcomber, BIO, telephone: (703) 292-8227, email:
  • John-David Swanson, OIA, telephone: (703) 292-2898, email:
  • Junping Wang, MPS, telephone: (703) 292-4488, email: