Supports fundamental engineering research in areas of photonics relevant to solving critical problems in the fields of medicine, biology and biotechnology.
The Biophotonics program is part of the Engineering Biology and Health cluster, which also includes: 1) the Biosensing program; 2) the Cellular and Biochemical Engineering program; 3) the Disability and Rehabilitation Engineering program; and 4) the Engineering of Biomedical Systems program.
The goal of the Biophotonics program is to explore the research frontiers in photonics principles, engineering and technology that are relevant for critical problems in fields of medicine, biology and biotechnology. Fundamental engineering research and innovation in photonics is required to lay the foundations for new technologies beyond those that are mature and ready for application in medical diagnostics and therapies. Advances are needed in nanophotonics, optogenetics, contrast and targeting agents, ultra-thin probes, wide field imaging, and rapid biomarker screening. Low cost and minimally invasive medical diagnostics and therapies are key motivating application goals.
Research topics in this program include:
- Imaging in the second near infrared window: Research that advances medical applications of biophotonics in the second near-infrared window (NIR-II: 1,000-1,700 nm) in which biological tissues are transparent up to several centimeters in depth, making this spectral window ideal for deep tissue imaging.
- Macromolecule markers: Innovative methods for labeling of macromolecules. Novel compositions of matter. Methods of fabrication of multicolor probes that could be used for marking and detection of specific pathological cells. Pushing the envelope of optical sensing to the limits of detection, resolution, and identification.
- Low coherence sensing at the nanoscale: Low coherence enhanced backscattering (LEBS). N-dimensional elastic light scattering. Angle-resolved low coherence interferometry for early cancer detection (dysplasia).
- Neurophotonics: Studies of photon activation of neurons at the interface of nanomaterials attached to cells. Development and application of biocompatible photonic tools such as parallel interfaces and interconnects for communicating and control of neural networks.
- Microphotonics and nanophotonics: Development and application of novel nanoparticle fluorescent quantum-dots. Sensitive, multiplexed, high-throughput characterization of macromolecular properties of cells. Nanomaterials and nanodevices for biomedicine.
- Optogenetics: Novel research in employing light-activated channels and enzymes for manipulation of neural activity with temporal precision. Utilizing nanophotonics, nanofibers, and genetic techniques for mapping and studying in real-time physiological processes in organs such as the brain and heart.
Innovative proposals outside of these specific interest areas may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the Principal Investigator contact the program director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.
INFORMATION COMMON TO MOST CBET PROGRAMS
Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature of the proposed work compared to previous work in the field. Also, it is important to address why the proposed work is important in terms of engineering science, as well as to also project the potential impact on society and/or industry of success in the research. The novelty or potentially transformative nature of the research should be included, as a minimum, in the Project Summary of each proposal.
The duration of unsolicited proposal awards in CBET is generally up to three years. Single-investigator award budgets typically include support for one graduate student (or equivalent) and up to one month of PI time per year (awards for multiple investigator projects are typically larger). Proposal budgets 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.
Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program proposals are strongly encouraged. Award duration is five years. The submission deadline for Engineering CAREER proposals is in July every year. Learn more in the CAREER program description.
Proposals for Conferences, Workshops, and Supplements: PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss their requests with the program director before submission of the proposal.
Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are also considered when appropriate. Please note that proposals of these types must be discussed with the program director before submission. Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals that integrate fundamental research with translational results and are consistent with the application areas of interest to each program are also encouraged. Please note that RAPID, EAGER, and GOALI proposals can be submitted anytime during the year. Details about RAPID, EAGER, and GOALI are available in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Part 1, Chapter II, Section E: Types of Proposals.
Compliance: Proposals that are not compliant with the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) will be returned without review.
Steven M. Zehnder