Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Biophysical and Biomechanical Aspects of Embryonic Development (R21)

Notice Number: NOT-HD-19-038

Key Dates
Release Date: November 05, 2019
First Available Due Date: February 16, 2020
Expiration Date: November 17, 2022

Related Announcements
  • PA-18-482 NICHD Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21, Clinical Trial Optional
  • NOT-HD-19-037 Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Biophysical and Biomechanical Aspects of Embryonic Development (R01)

Issued by
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)


The Notice of Scientific Interest (NOSI) is intended to encourage innovative and high risk/impact research in the area of physics/mechanics of embryonic development to be explored in model organisms. The research proposed under this program can explore approaches and concepts new to the area of developmental tissue mechanics, research and development of new technologies, or initial research and development of data upon which significant future research may be built. The focus of this NOSI is to promote research aimed at generating new and critical information about tissue mechanics relevant to vertebrate development and understanding the basis for developmental disorders.


In the past, research on developmental biomechanics has been focused on developing theoretical models and using in vitro experimental approaches for model validation. However, it is now well recognized that morphogenesis occurs through interactions between multiple tissue layers, and that physical parameters contributing to these processes are not displayed appropriately when studying individual cells in culture. The challenge is to match theoretical models to experimental data and integrate the analyses across time and space so that cellular mechanisms can be linked to tissue-level behavior. Consequently, to better understand the role of the physical and mechanical forces exerted during development, the focus of this NOSI is to promote studies aimed at understanding biomechanics of morphogenesis in vivo.

In recent years, there has been considerable progress toward understanding the genetic control of morphogenesis. It is evident that regulated gene expression determines the chemical environment of cells and tissues and thereby regulates biophysical processes. In turn, changes in physical forces feedback to regulate gene function and cell fate. Advancing our knowledge of the physical aspects of development will thus provide a broader view of how the genome of multicellular organism functions in association with physical forces to specify final shape and architecture of an organ and/or an entire organism.

Research Objectives

The objective of this research program is to advance our knowledge of the contributions of biophysical and biomechanical processes during normal and abnormal embryonic development. This will be achieved by encouraging applications with innovative concepts and approaches for studying developmental tissue mechanics in living organisms and by promoting the development of innovative new and/or improved tools, including non-invasive tools, for reliable measurement of physical parameters of cells and tissues in vivo and in tissue explants, in the context of complex tissue layers. Research proposing cell culture-based studies are also appropriate for this NOSI only if in vivo relevance or potential for future in vivo applications can be established.

Potential Research Areas

Research projects proposed in response to this NOSI are intended to advance our knowledge of the biophysical and biomechanical aspects of embryonic development. Studies can be focused at any level from the molecular and cellular, to tissue and organ level. Examples of research projects and experimental approaches that are being sought to achieve the objectives of this NOSI include, but are not limited to those listed below:

  • Studies to identify and quantitatively assess the biophysical and biomechanical processes contributing to the morphogenetic events that occur during embryonic development.
  • Studies to determine how coordination between gene regulatory networks and biophysical forces regulate key morphogenetic processes.
  • Studies to identify mechanistic commonalities across various morphogenetic events.
  • Studies aimed at understanding how disruptions in biophysical and biomechanical processes might lead to known structural developmental disorders.
  • Studies to develop and/or refine non-invasive tools for in-depth analyses of the temporal and spatial dynamics of developmental processes, as well as quantitative measurement of physical parameters contributing to these processes.

Application and Submission Information

This notice applies to due dates on or after February 16, 2020 and subsequent receipt dates through November 17, 2022 .

Submit applications for this initiative using the following funding opportunity announcement (FOA) or any reissue of the announcement through the expiration date of this notice.

  • PA-18-482 NICHD Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21, Clinical Trial Optional)

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:

  • For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-HD-19-038” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative
Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will be not be considered for the NOSI initiative.


Please direct all inquiries to the contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements with the following additions/substitutions:

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Mahua Mukhopadhyay, PhD
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human development (NICHD)
Telephone: 301-435-6886