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Biologists seeking funding from the US National Science Foundation will no longer have to submit preproposals and will not have specific grant submission deadlines, Science reports.

The biology directorate at the agency had, beginning in 2012, limited grant applicants to making two submissions each year and required them to submit preproposals, Science notes, adding that NSF also changed from a twice-yearly submission deadline to an annual one. The impetus was to ease the burden on NSF staff while increasing funding rates and the quality of reviews.

But an analysis of the changes found that researchers were not fans of the annual deadline and thought that the four-page preproposals were too short to convey their idea, Science reports. On the other side, the analysis found a mixed effect on workload.

The changes are to take effect for 2018. "By accepting proposals at any time, investigators will have greater opportunities to prepare their proposals, build strong collaborations, and think more creatively, thereby resulting in more complex, interdisciplinary projects that have the potential to dramatically advance biological science," writes James Olds, the assistant director of the biology directorate, in a Dear Colleague letter.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.