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Research Grants

Assessment Tools for Biotechnology Products Request For Application (RFA) and Informational Webinar for Potential Applicants

Date and Time

Thursday 05/28/2020 2:00PM to 3:00PM EDT
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Registration Deadline

Thursday 05/28/2020 2:00PM EDT


Biotechnology Assessment Tools RFA Banner

Background Information:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the Assessment Tools for Biotechnology Products RFA.

As part of EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, the RFA is seeking applications proposing research to support the development of science-based human health and environmental risk assessments of new biotechnology products, including those developed through synthetic biology, genome editing, and metabolic engineering.

Synthetic biology, genome editing, and metabolic engineering, along with a wide range of other transformational tools and techniques, are enabling the development of entirely new generations of potentially beneficial synthetic biology products, such as ingredients of consumer products or agricultural products. For the purposes of this RFA, synthetic biology (“synbio”) is defined as an interdisciplinary area that applies bioengineering tools to biology in order to fabricate a wide range of biotechnology products. Information and effective tools are needed to evaluate and monitor parameters such as long-term stability, persistence, efficacy, and reliability of synthetic biology products in order to assess any potential unintended human and ecological impacts. Better understanding of how synthetic biology products interact at both the cellular and systems levels will allow for informed decisions on the safety and efficacy of novel products of biotechnology, now increasingly available for industrial and commercial applications.

This RFA solicits research to inform development of assessment tools to better understand the characteristics and interactions of synbio organisms, components, and their biocontainment strategies and to characterize potential risks to human health and the environment.

Research Topics Information:

Applicants should address at least one of the three research areas listed below (the following research areas include subtopic areas detailed in the RFA that should also be addressed in the research):

  1. Long-term stability, persistence, efficacy, and reliability of microbial biocontainment strategies, microbial synthetic genetic constructs, or microbial genetic restriction technologies
  2. Ecological effects/impacts of synbio organisms or by-products that are released into the environment
  3. Risks to human health from novel biomolecules produced using metabolic or genetic pathways by organisms used as manufacturing bioreactors. Much work regarding toxicity and allergenicity of new protein domains relies on bioinformatics that use existing databases of known toxins and allergens. These databases, or the literature, do not apply to biomolecules made by synbio organisms.

The Agency is soliciting research that proposes the development of tools to evaluate, monitor and assess risk and potential outcomes from the use of synthetic biology products. Examples of tools include models, bioinformatic systems, field-based and in vitro methods supporting risk assessments of synthetic biology products.

This RFA is supported by EPA’s Chemical Safety for Sustainable Research Program (CSS), which seeks to improve the safe production, use, and disposal of chemicals to protect human health and the environment.

The STAR Program’s goal is to stimulate and support scientific and engineering research that advances EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. It is a competitive, peer-reviewed, extramural research program that provides access to the nation’s best scientists and engineers in academic and other nonprofit research institutions. STAR funds research on the environmental and public health effects of air quality, environmental changes, water quality and quantity, hazardous waste, toxic substances, and pesticides.

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Webinar Files: 

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More information on the CSS Program


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