Furthering the National Science Foundation's (NSF) strategic engagement to explore and advance opportunities for leveraging international resources, NSF has completed its first MULTIPLIER (MULTIPlying Impact Leveraging International Expertise in Research Missions) short-term expedition for scientific opportunities.
Created in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 as a response to rapid changes in global innovation, MULTIPLIER is a new program that deploys NSF experts to selected international areas to explore opportunities for science and engineering collaboration. MULTIPLIER expeditions focus on fields of science and engineering where researchers are making significant developments and have the potential to benefit U.S. prosperity, security, health and well-being.
Through MULTIPLIER, NSF leaders have demonstrated flexibility in targeted scientific outreach, onsite collaboration and first-hand engagement with international synthetic biologists, engineers, physicists and computer scientists. NSF will evaluate findings from this first expedition and potentially apply them to future research funding solicitations at NSF.
"NSF is committed to a steady exchange of scientific knowledge worldwide," said Rebecca Keiser, head of NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE). "Our international partners are vital to helping address some of the most challenging science and engineering issues and we are committed to exploring collaborative relationships worldwide through this fresh approach."
The first MULTIPLIER trip focused on synthetic biology research in European laboratories. Synthetic biology is an emerging field that focuses on the construction of new biological systems. It has the potential to enhance healthcare, agriculture, industry and environmental biotechnology products, for example, by advancing new drug therapies and renewable fuels.
The NSF team, comprised of synthetic biology subject matter experts, participated in meetings and lab tours in the U.K. and Germany, learned about research advances and identified areas of potential collaboration. The group visited synthetic cell biology research labs in Scotland and, in Germany, the Max Planck Society Institutes for Biochemistry in Martinsried and Medical Research in Stuttgart.
The team also held meetings at the German Research Foundation in Bonn. Members of the team participated in the MaxSynBio workshop with the Max Planck Research Network, Europe's largest national initiative in synthetic biology.