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DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Genomic Science Program supports DOE mission-driven fundamental research to identify the foundational principles that drive biological systems. Development of innovative approaches for sustainable bioenergy production will be accelerated by a systems biology understanding of non-food plants that can serve as dedicated cellulosic biomass feedstocks and microbes capable of deconstructing biomass into their sugar subunits and synthesizing next generation biofuels from cellulosic biomass. Genomic Science Program research also brings the -omics driven tools of modern systems biology to bear for analyzing interactions among organisms that form biological communities and between organisms and their surrounding environments. BER established three Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs) in 2007 to pursue the basic research underlying a range of high-risk, high-return biological solutions for bioenergy applications. Advances resulting from the BRCs are providing the knowledge needed to develop new biobased products, methods, and tools that the emerging biofuel industry can use. The three Centers are based in the Southeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast, with partners across the nation. DOEs Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory leads the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in California, DOEs Oak Ridge National Laboratory leads the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) in Tennessee, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison leads the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC). The goal for the three BRCs is to understand better the biological mechanisms underlying biofuel production so that these mechanisms can be redesigned, improved, and used to develop novel, efficient bioenergy strategies that can be replicated on a mass scale. Many of these mechanisms form the foundation for the BRCs inventions and tech-transfer opportunities, which enable the development of technologies that are critical to the growth of a biofuels sector. Successful applicants will propose R&D that will lead to biofuel commercialization utilizing one of the TTOs listed below. Applications that propose technologies related to a TTO but that do not directly utilize a TTO will not be funded. Applications should include sufficient preliminary data and scientific detail so that expert reviewers will understand both the potential benefits and the challenges that may be encountered in carrying out the proposed research. Challenges should be identified, and solutions should be proposed that will explain how the PIs team will overcome the challenges. Applications should address potential risks such as biocontainment challenges as well as strategies to mitigate those risks.
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