Supports fundamental research on biological mechanics across multiple scales, from subcellular to whole organism.
The Biomechanics and Mechanobiology (BMMB) program is part of the Mechanics of Materials cluster within the Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation.
The BMMB program supports fundamental and transformative research that advances our understanding of engineering biomechanics and/or mechanobiology. The program emphasizes the study of biological mechanics across multiple domains, from sub-cellular to whole organism. Distinct from conventional engineering materials, the program encourages the consideration of diverse living tissues as smart materials that are self-designing.
BMMB projects must have a clear biological component, a clear mechanics component, and must improve our understanding of the mechanical behavior of a living system. Investigations of the mechanical behavior of biological molecules, cells, tissues, and living systems are welcome. An important concern is the influence of in vivo mechanical forces on cell and matrix biology in the histomorphogenesis, maintenance, regeneration, repair, and aging of tissues and organs. The program is also interested in efforts to translate recent biomechanical and mechanobiological discoveries into engineering science.
Multiscale mechanics approaches are encouraged but not required. Projects may include theoretical, computational, or experimental approaches, or a combination thereof. NSF does not support clinical trials; however, feasibility studies involving human volunteers or animal subjects may be supported if appropriate to the scientific objectives of the project.
Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature of the proposed work compared to previous work in the field. Also, it is essential to address why the proposed work is important in terms of engineering science, and to state the potential impact of success in the research on society and/or industry.
Innovative proposals outside of these specific areas of biomechanics and mechanobiology will be considered. However, prior to submission of particularly unique topics, it is strongly recommended that Principal Investigators (PIs) contact the program director to discuss how the proposed work fits within the scope of the program and avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.
Related programs also fund certain aspects of biomechanics and mechanobiology research, and PIs are encouraged to examine these to find the appropriate program for submission. Proposals with a heavy emphasis on tissue engineering or developing validated models of tissue and organ systems should consider the Engineering of Biomedical Systems (EBMS) program. Projects addressing biological questions about the physiological mechanisms and structural features of organisms should consult the Physiological Mechanisms & Biomechanics (PMB) program. Projects elucidating aspects of neural control may consider the Perception, Action, & Cognition (PAC) program or the Mind, Machine, and Motor Nexus (M3X) program if the project contains work relevant to human-machine interaction. Projects in rehabilitation engineering should consider the Disability and Rehabilitation Engineering (DARE) program. Projects focused on fundamental research related to design, characterization, and modification of biomaterials should consider the Biomaterials (BMAT) program. Manufacturing systems proposals should consider the Advanced Manufacturing (AM) program. Work on the interplay between structure, dynamics, and function of biomolecules without advancing our understanding of the mechanics of a living system should consider the Molecular Biophysics program. Researchers who believe their work may span multiple programs are particularly encouraged to contact the cognizant program directors well in advance of submission.
The duration of unsolicited proposal awards is generally up to three years; proposals for a shorter duration are welcome. Single-investigator award budgets typically include support for one graduate student (or equivalent trainee) and up to one month of PI time per year (awards for multiple investigator projects are typically larger). Proposal budgets or durations that are much larger than typical should be discussed with the program director prior to submission. Proposers can view budget amounts and other information from recent awards made by this program via the “What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)” link towards the bottom of this page.