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Sample student biology research proposal (P. Pazos & P. Hirsch 2008)

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  Sample student biology proposal with annotations about content and writing style

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cell biology research proposal

  • Undergraduate

MCDB 199A-D: Project Proposal

Project proposals, the basics:.

  • Your proposal should be prepared as a separate paper and then appended to the contract, acknowledgement form, and if required the outside sponsor agreement and research timeline.  For complete instructions regarding these requirements, please see How to Apply and Enroll .
  • Your name, UID, and email address should appear on the first page; name and UID should appear on every subsequent page.
  • Your research sponsor’s full name, telephone and email address should appear on the first page.
  • Pages should be numbered.
  • Both you and your research sponsor must sign the last page of your proposal prior to submitting it, indicating that you both understand/agree to what is expected of you and what will be accomplished during the course.

The Proposal:

IMPORTANT :  It is a form of academic dishonesty to turn in material written by someone else in the lab for some other purpose (a section of a grant proposal, or an article in preparation) and given to you for use as a guide in preparing your research proposal, or your paper.  Both your proposal and your paper should be your own write-up, reflecting your understanding in your own words.  If you do utilize such materials, make sure to cite them appropriately in your paper.

  • Your proposal should begin with a problem statement – a clear description of the larger problem within which your research project is situated.
  • Your 199A proposal should outline a project that is appropriate in scope for a two-quarter research project.  You will be submitting a revised proposal for 199C and 199D.
  • The particular research questions to be answered.
  • The existing bodies of literature that will set you project into context.
  • The methods that will be used to generate data.
  • How data will be collected and subsequently analyzed.
  • Your proposal must make clear the precise role that you, the student, will play in the lab, including how much and what part of the data collection will be completed by you. (Be careful about using language such as “we” will perform XYZ experiments.  Specify that “I” will be performing XYZ experiments.  Distinguish what is being performed by others, and what is beng performed by you.)
  • The description of your project should be followed by an explanation of how this specific project contributes to the solution of some larger problem.  In other words, what role might you project or its findings play in answering questions posed by the larger problem?
  • The project that you and your research sponsor design should reasonable fit the research and writing within the two-quarter framework imposed by MCDB 199A-B and require no less than 12 hours per week in the lab.
  • Your research sponsor should provide an estimate of approximately how many hours per week, for the duration of two quarters, the proposed project is expected to involve on your part, and how often you will meet with your sponsor to discuss your project (e.g., once a week).  That estimate should be included in your project proposal.  (A short paragraph at the very end of your proposal detailing this is preferred.)

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Writing Tips and Examples

Writing tips for grants & thesis dissertations, from the duke department of medicine:.

The Department of Medicine's vice chair for faculty development and diversity has collected a number of grant writing resources and successful sample grants that are available for review by Duke faculty and trainees. Follow the link below to view a list of resources - log into Duke Box  using your Duke Net ID and password and click a link below to access the documents.  Note: Do no use anyone else's text without permission.


Making a Poster: 


Powerpoint Presentation Design: 


Research Paper Writing: 


On NSF Grants:

Full NSF Proposal Example 2010

Sample Grant Proposals - Indiana University

  • From the National Science Foundation: " A Guide for Proposal Writing "
  • From National Science Foundation: " How to Get NSF Funding: A View from the 'Inside' "
  • From Carnegie Mellon University: " Advice on Writing Proposals to the National Science Foundation "
  • From the Principal Investigator's Association: " Executive Report: How to Write a Winning NSF Proposal "
  • From Sunshine Consultants Int'l: " Writing a Compelling Grant Proposal to NSF "
  • " Writing an NSF Grant Proposal: A First Timer's Perspective " by Philip J. Guo, Associate Professor @ UC San Diego

On NRSA Grants:

  • From Science Direct: A Practical Guide to Writing a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Grant
  • From Illinois University: How to Win an NIH/Kirschstein/F30-F31 Predoctoral Fellowship - The Nuts & Bolts
  • How to Write an F30 - Sidenote, Tumblr
  • Thoughts on Writing an F31 NRSA Award - University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • From the University of Colorado: Sample NRSA Proposals

T32 Training Grants - Unlocking the Mystery - UNC Chapel Hill

  • From the Burroughs Wellcome Fund & Howard Hughes Medical Institute: " Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs & New Faculty "

Department of Biological Sciences

cell biology research proposal

Examples of Undergraduate Research Projects

Fall 2021 projects, previous projects.


Aims and scope

Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) is a broad journal that publishes original findings on all aspects of cell biology. We consider papers reporting new cellular or molecular advances in any areas of basic cell biology as well as papers that describe applied cell biology in a variety of systems including, but not limited to, immunology, neurobiology, metabolism, virology, developmental biology, and plant biology. We welcome all submissions that describe new findings of significant interest to cell biologists, regardless of the experimental approach.

If you are wondering whether your manuscript is appropriate for JCB, please feel free to contact the editorial office at [email protected] and we will respond to your presubmission inquiry as quickly as possible.

To warrant publication in JCB, a manuscript must provide novel and significant insight into a cellular function or process. Insights may be significant because they are of great interest to a subset of cell biologists or because they offer an advance that is of intrinsic interest to a broad cell biological audience.

Manuscript types

Articles present a comprehensive analysis providing novel and significant mechanistic insight into an area of interest to our general readership. Articles are fully documented reports of original research that are as concise as possible without compromising the documentation of results. Articles should be no more than 40,000 characters (not including spaces, figure legends, methods, or references), with up to 10 figures and/or tables. Articles may have up to five supplemental figures and references are unlimited.

Reports offer definitive observations of outstanding interest that have the potential to open up new avenues of research. Reports describe cutting-edge findings of immediate interest to a wide readership. Reports are no more than 20,000 characters (not including spaces, figure legends, methods, or references), with up to five figures and/or tables. Reports may have up to three supplemental figures and references are unlimited.

Front matter formats

Most front matter in JCB is commissioned by the editors. However, we do accept proposals for the following formats.

Reviews are peer-reviewed, comprehensive overviews on a topic of interest to the broad JCB readership. Reviews are usually 4,000–6,000 words in length and include three to four figures/tables. The number of references is unlimited.

Perspectives are peer-reviewed discussions that offer a forward-looking scholarly opinion on topics for which there have been recent exciting developments. Perspectives are 4,000–6,000 words in length and include three to four figures/tables. The number of references is unlimited.

Spotlights highlight primary research articles published in JCB or a recent issue of another journal. Most Spotlights are commissioned, but proposals will be considered. Spotlights are 800-1,000 words in length, with no more than 10 references and one figure/table.

Viewpoint articles put forth original models and hypotheses on cutting-edge cell biological research. This format is intended to stimulate discussion and/or the development of new research. These forward-looking articles should build on recent advances in a given field, and hypotheses should rest on published data. Viewpoints are 1,000 words in length, with no more than 10 references and one figure/table.

Editorial process

At JCB, all editorial decisions on research manuscripts are made through collaborative consultation between in-house professional scientific editors and the academic editorial board. The final decision lies with the academic editors. We strive to provide exceptional service by ensuring timely, objective, and rigorous decision making.

Upon submission, manuscripts are reviewed by at least one in-house scientific editor and one member of the editorial board for general suitability and strength of advance. An initial decision whether to peer review the paper is typically reached within three to four days.

If sent for full review, the manuscript is refereed by leading scientists active in the relevant field regardless of their membership on the JCB editorial board. All reviewers have the opportunity to see and comment on each other’s reports, ensuring that peer review is objective and balanced. Decisions after review are communicated jointly by the academic and professional editors.

Following review, we will encourage resubmission if revisions seem feasible within three to four months. We provide clear, detailed decisions that describe exactly what would be needed for publication in JCB. We will not reassess novelty when you resubmit your revision, even if related work has been published. We re-review manuscripts only when necessary. In many cases, an academic editor will make the final decision on a resubmission without further expert review. Our policy is to only allow a single round of major revision. When manuscripts submitted to JCB are accepted for publication, authors have the option to publish the editorial correspondence and reviewer reports. Referee anonymity will be maintained. Manuscripts transferred to JCB along with reviewer reports from another journal are not eligible for this feature.

If revisions will likely take longer than three to four months, we typically advise authors to submit elsewhere. However, authors are free to appeal and request the opportunity to resubmit to JCB at a later time.

Authors can appeal editorial decisions through the online manuscript submission system . They may also transfer their manuscript, reviewer comments, and reviewer identities to another journal through our transfer system (see our  Transfer policy ). Reviewers may opt out of having their identity transferred.

Editorial board

The JCB editorial board is comprised of over 100 leading scientists from across the breadth of cell biology. Editorial board members are responsible for making timely, thoughtful, and objective editorial decisions on manuscripts in their research area. Editorial board members are renewed every two years. All editorial board members are added and renewed by the Executive Editor and Editor-in-Chief.

In addition to the editorial board, JCB has a team of 10 academic editors who, in addition to making editorial decisions, also contribute to discussions regarding editorial policy and editorial board appointments. These editors are identified on the journal masthead and website. They serve three-year terms. Editors are added and renewed by the Executive Editor and Editor-in-Chief.

The JCB Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor are appointed by the Executive Director of The Rockefeller University Press.

Aims and scope Criteria Manuscript types Front matter formats Editorial process Editorial board

Editorial policies, authorship author name changes duplicate publication preprint policy animal and human studies data integrity and plagiarism artificial intelligence materials and data sharing data availability statement confidentiality voluntary demographic disclosure conflict of interest data deposition transfer policy peer review correspondence open access media policy, submission guidelines, presubmissions preparing for submission revised submissions source data data presentation and statistical analysis manuscript organization and formatting reference guidelines figure and video guidelines accepted manuscripts short video summaries production and proofs appeals corrections and refutations annotation and comments.

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Published by Robert Bruce at August 29th, 2023 , Revised On September 5, 2023

Biology Research Topics

Are you in need of captivating and achievable research topics within the field of biology? Your quest for the best biology topics ends right here as this article furnishes you with 100 distinctive and original concepts for biology research, laying the groundwork for your research endeavor.

Table of Contents

Our proficient researchers have thoughtfully curated these biology research themes, considering the substantial body of literature accessible and the prevailing gaps in research.

Should none of these topics elicit enthusiasm, our specialists are equally capable of proposing tailor-made research ideas in biology, finely tuned to cater to your requirements. 

Thus, without further delay, we present our compilation of biology research topics crafted to accommodate students and researchers.

Research Topics in Marine Biology

  • Impact of climate change on coral reef ecosystems.
  • Biodiversity and adaptation of deep-sea organisms.
  • Effects of pollution on marine life and ecosystems.
  • Role of marine protected areas in conserving biodiversity.
  • Microplastics in marine environments: sources, impacts, and mitigation.

Biological Anthropology Research Topics

  • Evolutionary implications of early human migration patterns.
  • Genetic and environmental factors influencing human height variation.
  • Cultural evolution and its impact on human societies.
  • Paleoanthropological insights into human dietary adaptations.
  • Genetic diversity and population history of indigenous communities.

Biological Psychology Research Topics 

  • Neurobiological basis of addiction and its treatment.
  • Impact of stress on brain structure and function.
  • Genetic and environmental influences on mental health disorders.
  • Neural mechanisms underlying emotions and emotional regulation.
  • Role of the gut-brain axis in psychological well-being.

Cancer Biology Research Topics 

  • Targeted therapies in precision cancer medicine.
  • Tumor microenvironment and its influence on cancer progression.
  • Epigenetic modifications in cancer development and therapy.
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors and their role in cancer immunotherapy.
  • Early detection and diagnosis strategies for various types of cancer.

Also read: Cancer research topics

Cell Biology Research Topics

  • Mechanisms of autophagy and its implications in health and disease.
  • Intracellular transport and organelle dynamics in cell function.
  • Role of cell signaling pathways in cellular response to external stimuli.
  • Cell cycle regulation and its relevance to cancer development.
  • Cellular mechanisms of apoptosis and programmed cell death.

Developmental Biology Research Topics 

  • Genetic and molecular basis of limb development in vertebrates.
  • Evolution of embryonic development and its impact on morphological diversity.
  • Stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine approaches.
  • Mechanisms of organogenesis and tissue regeneration in animals.
  • Role of non-coding RNAs in developmental processes.

Also read: Education research topics

Human Biology Research Topics

  • Genetic factors influencing susceptibility to infectious diseases.
  • Human microbiome and its impact on health and disease.
  • Genetic basis of rare and common human diseases.
  • Genetic and environmental factors contributing to aging.
  • Impact of lifestyle and diet on human health and longevity.

Molecular Biology Research Topics 

  • CRISPR-Cas gene editing technology and its applications.
  • Non-coding RNAs as regulators of gene expression.
  • Role of epigenetics in gene regulation and disease.
  • Mechanisms of DNA repair and genome stability.
  • Molecular basis of cellular metabolism and energy production.

Research Topics in Biology for Undergraduates

  • 41. Investigating the effects of pollutants on local plant species.
  • Microbial diversity and ecosystem functioning in a specific habitat.
  • Understanding the genetics of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
  • Impact of urbanization on bird populations and biodiversity.
  • Investigating the role of pheromones in insect communication.

Synthetic Biology Research Topics 

  • Design and construction of synthetic biological circuits.
  • Synthetic biology applications in biofuel production.
  • Ethical considerations in synthetic biology research and applications.
  • Synthetic biology approaches to engineering novel enzymes.
  • Creating synthetic organisms with modified functions and capabilities.

Animal Biology Research Topics 

  • Evolution of mating behaviors in animal species.
  • Genetic basis of color variation in butterfly wings.
  • Impact of habitat fragmentation on amphibian populations.
  • Behavior and communication in social insect colonies.
  • Adaptations of marine mammals to aquatic environments.

Also read: Nursing research topics

Best Biology Research Topics 

  • Unraveling the mysteries of circadian rhythms in organisms.
  • Investigating the ecological significance of cryptic coloration.
  • Evolution of venomous animals and their prey.
  • The role of endosymbiosis in the evolution of eukaryotic cells.
  • Exploring the potential of extremophiles in biotechnology.

Biological Psychology Research Paper Topics

  • Neurobiological mechanisms underlying memory formation.
  • Impact of sleep disorders on cognitive function and mental health.
  • Biological basis of personality traits and behavior.
  • Neural correlates of emotions and emotional disorders.
  • Role of neuroplasticity in brain recovery after injury.

Biological Science Research Topics: 

  • Role of gut microbiota in immune system development.
  • Molecular mechanisms of gene regulation during development.
  • Impact of climate change on insect population dynamics.
  • Genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
  • Evolutionary relationships among vertebrate species based on DNA analysis.

Biology Education Research Topics 

  • Effectiveness of inquiry-based learning in biology classrooms.
  • Assessing the impact of virtual labs on student understanding of biology concepts.
  • Gender disparities in science education and strategies for closing the gap.
  • Role of outdoor education in enhancing students’ ecological awareness.
  • Integrating technology in biology education: challenges and opportunities.

Biology-Related Research Topics

  • The intersection of ecology and economics in conservation planning.
  • Molecular basis of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria.
  • Implications of genetic modification of crops for food security.
  • Evolutionary perspectives on cooperation and altruism in animal behavior.
  • Environmental impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Biology Research Proposal Topics

  • Investigating the role of microRNAs in cancer progression.
  • Exploring the effects of pollution on aquatic biodiversity.
  • Developing a gene therapy approach for a genetic disorder.
  • Assessing the potential of natural compounds as anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Studying the molecular basis of cellular senescence and aging.

Biology Research Topic Ideas

  • Role of pheromones in insect mate selection and behavior.
  • Investigating the molecular basis of neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • Impact of climate change on plant-pollinator interactions.
  • Genetic diversity and conservation of endangered species.
  • Evolutionary patterns in mimicry and camouflage in organisms.

Biology Research Topics for Undergraduates 

  • Effects of different fertilizers on plant growth and soil health.
  • Investigating the biodiversity of a local freshwater ecosystem.
  • Evolutionary origins of a specific animal adaptation.
  • Genetic diversity and disease susceptibility in human populations.
  • Role of specific genes in regulating the immune response.

Cell and Molecular Biology Research Topics 

  • Molecular mechanisms of DNA replication and repair.
  • Role of microRNAs in post-transcriptional gene regulation.
  • Investigating the cell cycle and its control mechanisms.
  • Molecular basis of mitochondrial diseases and therapies.
  • Cellular responses to oxidative stress and their implications in ageing.

These topics cover a broad range of subjects within biology, offering plenty of options for research projects. Remember that you can further refine these topics based on your specific interests and research goals.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are some good research topics in biology?

A good research topic in biology will address a specific problem in any of the several areas of biology, such as marine biology, molecular biology, cellular biology, animal biology, or cancer biology.

A topic that enables you to investigate a problem in any area of biology will help you make a meaningful contribution. 

How to choose a research topic in biology?

Choosing a research topic in biology is simple. 

Follow the steps:

  • Generate potential topics. 
  • Consider your areas of knowledge and personal passions. 
  • Conduct a thorough review of existing literature.
  •  Evaluate the practicality and viability. 
  • Narrow down and refine your research query. 
  • Remain receptive to new ideas and suggestions.

Who Are We?

For several years, Research Prospect has been offering students around the globe complimentary research topic suggestions. We aim to assist students in choosing a research topic that is both suitable and feasible for their project, leading to the attainment of their desired grades. Explore how our services, including research proposal writing , dissertation outline creation, and comprehensive thesis writing , can contribute to your college’s success.

You May Also Like

Should you use MLA or APA citation style in your dissertation, thesis, or research paper? Choose by reading this comprehensive blog.

Learn how to write a finance thesis and more than 30 finance thesis topics to choose from. Start your research with the help of our guide.

A preliminary literature review is an initial exploration of existing research on a topic, setting the foundation for in-depth study.

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  • Published: 15 February 2024

Can single-cell biology realize the promise of precision medicine?

  • Cormac Sheridan 1  

Nature Biotechnology volume  42 ,  pages 159–162 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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Biology’s quiet revolution is underway, as single-cell tools fuel the next-wave of drug discoveries and promise to match therapies to the individual.

You have full access to this article via your institution.

Cellarity’s single-cell-based approach to drug discovery is at the heart of a recent agreement with Novo Nordisk to develop new drugs for a form of chronic fatty liver disease associated with metabolic dysfunction. The hope is that this shift away from molecular targets and toward identifying the underlying cellular dysfunction will offer deep insights into the biology of the condition, which will, in turn, lead to improved therapies. Just as the microscope enabled the development of microbiology in the seventeenth century, high-resolution, single-cell methods are opening up whole new biological vistas (Table 1 ).

cell biology research proposal

Single-cell methods are already embedded in basic research, where they have powered agenda-setting research initiatives, such as the recently published map of the human brain and the Human Cell Atlas , a global initiative to map every cell in the human body. But single-cell ’omics and imaging techniques are not confined to basic research. Because of the exquisite sensitivity of single-cell analysis in detecting biological signals, its potential is likely to spill over into myriad areas of medicine too. At this point, single-cell analysis is nowhere near routine clinical practice, but a handful of pioneering studies points to its potential in realizing the largely unattained goal of precision medicine — that is, accurately matching an individual patient to the therapies from which they are most likely to benefit. “Clinically, I would say, we’re at the very early stages,” says Joseph Powell, of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Darlinghurst, Australia.

The cell has been a central focus of biological research for almost 200 years, following its recognition in the 1830s as the fundamental structural and functional unit of life. But until recently, genomic, epigenomic, proteomic and other’omic analyses could only be conducted on cells isolated in bulk. The resulting data provided an average view of a given biological sample, but glossed over rare cells, infrequently expressed transcripts, and metabolites present in low concentrations.

The widespread adoption of next-generation sequencing over the last two decades has ushered in the present era of single-cell biology. A whole-transcriptome analysis of a single mouse blastomere, published in 2019 by a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge and Applied Biosystems (now part of Thermo Fisher Scientific), is generally held to represent the first example of single-cell transcriptomics in action. The term ‘single cell’ applied literally in this case: the group used micropipetting techniques to handle the individual cells, which are present in very low numbers during early embryonic development.

But the whole value of single-cell biology lies in the ability to conduct parallel analyses of individual cells at massive scale. This relies on automated cell-handling platforms based on microfluidic and cytometric technologies, coupled with powerful computational platforms for managing and interpreting the data,

The migration of single-cell techniques from research labs to the clinic still requires test developers to build an evidence base to support their diagnostic or prognostic claims. That effort remains early stage. Mission Bio, for example, recently launched a single-cell assay for detecting measurable residual disease in patients with acute myeloid leukemia. It evaluates a panel of 40 genes and 19 protein markers, as defined in European LeukemiaNet guidelines, and one recent academic study suggests it may be ten times more sensitive than current methods (based on multicolor flow cytometry) in distinguishing residual leukemic cells from preleukemic cells or myeloid precursor cells. But it is still a translational research tool, as it has yet to be validated and approved as a clinical diagnostic.

The company has explicitly chosen to measure DNA instead of RNA, with that goal in mind. “Doing next-generation sequencing on RNA has never been approved by any regulator anywhere as an IVD [in vitro diagnostic],” says the Mission Bio’s chief medical officer, Todd Druley. Although RNA is easier to isolate and work with than DNA, he says, its instability and variability in expression — both from person to person and from cell to cell — make it less reliable for clinical diagnosis. “It’s really hard to get the same answer in two places,” he says.

Single-cell spatial transcriptomics adds a further layer of analytical resolution. It allows researchers to pinpoint the locations of different cell types within a tissue sample while also identifying their gene expression profiles. The two main approaches involve either sequencing methods, in which tissue sections are analyzed on pixelated surfaces containing barcoded DNA primers, or imaging-based methods, involving fluorescence in situ hybridization or in situ sequencing.

Single-cell spatial analysis has resulted in strong growth for instrument maker 10x Genomics, which sold 100 of its Xenium systems within eight months of the product’s launch. These analyzers provide users with richly detailed visualizations of tissue sections. “You’re essentially looking at an image,” says Ben Hindson, the company’s CSO and co-founder. But it’s an image with a wealth of associated biological data, which can be called up with a mouse click — it’s akin to a virtual reconstruction of the original tissue. 10x Genomics scientists recently reported they used the system to perform high-resolution mapping of the breast cancer tumor microenvironment, which has suggested biological insights into the progression of cancers from ductal carcinoma in situ to invasive carcinoma.

Single-cell analysis is not confined to’omic analytes, either. Exscientia, of Oxford, UK, is throwing its weight behind another foundational technology: high-throughput single-cell imaging. When combined with machine learning, it can yield important insights into the status of a cell exposed ex vivo to a drug. This approach to drug discovery is inherently unbiased — it does not require prior knowledge of the genomic profile of a cancer to recommend a particular course of action but relies instead on artificial intelligence-driven image analysis of cells following their exposure. The company gained the technology through its acquisition of Vienna-based Allcyte in 2021.

A prototype of the platform has already demonstrated its potential in guiding therapeutic selection in a prospective academic study, called EXALT-1 , in patients with late-stage hematological cancers. Seventy-six of 143 patients had cells isolated from their tumors and collectively exposed ex vivo to a panel of 139 different drugs. Fifty-six of these patients received therapies suggested by this ‘single-cell functional precision medicine’ approach; the other 20 patients opted to receive physicians’ choice. At median follow-up of 23.9 months, 30 of the 56 patients (54%) in the single-cell–drug-matched arm attained progression-free survival that was at least 1.3-fold longer than what they had experienced on their previous therapies. This is unusual in cancer care — typically, therapeutic success diminishes with succeeding lines of therapy. What’s more, 12 patients were deemed to have experienced an exceptional response, seeing progression free-survival times that were three times longer than expected. “Eleven of our 56 patients on our EXALT-1 trial are still in remission,” says Philipp Staber of the Medical University of Vienna, in Austria. “These are patients who were without any treatment options.” No such survival benefit accrued to those on physicians’ choice, although the two arms are not directly comparable given the variety of cancers included in the trial.

Staber and his team are now recruiting patients into a second prospective study in patients with hematological cancer, EXALT-2 , which is comparing the utility of genomic screening, single-cell functional precision medicine and physicians’ choice in guiding therapy selection. “Here, we’re investigating three decision-making strategies. We’re not investigating the drugs,” he says. Roche, of Basel, Switzerland, is collaborating on the study, which is employing its FoundationOne Heme test to provide genomic profiles of patients’ cancers. The study will use laser-based flow cytometry, instead of Exscientia’s high-content microscopy technology, to evaluate the effect of its panel of drugs on patients’ cancer cells. “We learned that actually the flow cytometer needed even less material than we used before,” Staber said.

These functional single-cell approaches to precision medicine could benefit more patients than is currently the case with genomic tumor profiling. “It’s a tiny minority of cancer patients who benefit from these purely genomic approaches,” says Anthony Letai of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The extraordinary success of imatinib, which was approved back in 2001 for treating patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), raised unrealistic expectations about creating highly potent therapies simply by identifying the genetic drivers of different cancers. “We were just going to march along from cancer to cancer, and that’s what we were going to do,” says Letai. CML proved to be an exceptional case, however. For example, the overall response rate on the recently concluded NCI-MATCH trial , sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, was just 10.3%.

In most cases, the relationship between the genotype of a cancer cell and its phenotype is typically more complex than is it is for CML. As noted by Nikolaus Krall, who is executive vice president of precision medicine at Exscientia, other genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic and immunological factors also influence cancer development. “Really understanding this interplay at a molecular level to such an extent that you can make predictions is very hard,” he says. “In some settings, an unbiased phenotypic approach is much easier conceptually.”

It’s not a question of one approach replacing another but of what works best in a given setting. “The way that we assay information on cells is going to continue to evolve,” says Powell. “We shouldn’t be precious about what technology we are using.” Krall concurs: “I see no point in competing with mutational analysis in CML, for example.”

The clinical application of single-cell biology is not confined to cancer, even if that area consumes most of the current attention. For example, London-based Relation Therapeutics is running an ambitious observational study , Osteomics, which is designed to generate insights into bone biology that, it hopes, will form the basis of novel disease-modifying therapies. Co-founder and chief innovation officer Jake Taylor-King says Osteomics is set up as a single-cell expression quantitative trait locus study in order to explore disease-associated genes at a high level of resolution. It is applying single-cell analyses to bone tissue obtained from patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, including those with bone disorders, such as osteoporosis, and those without underlying disease who have experienced a bone injury. It will integrate these data with molecular biology, genetic and environmental data and employ machine learning to enable a ‘lab-in-the-loop’ interchange between wet lab experimentation and predictive modeling. “We’re already starting to get some hits,” he says.

The emergence of clinical applications will be necessarily slower. “There are regulatory hurdles as well as application uses,” says Powell. Data, as always, will drive adoption. The potential rewards, both in terms of better medicines and better use of existing drugs, are high.

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Sheridan, C. Can single-cell biology realize the promise of precision medicine?. Nat Biotechnol 42 , 159–162 (2024).

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Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Tool Development for Molecular and Cell Biology (Tools4Cells)

Dear Colleagues:

Opening new frontiers in molecular and cellular biosciences depends heavily on technological innovation; therefore, continued development of new tools and methods is critical, especially using interdisciplinary approaches that leverage advances in other fields of research. Technological breakthroughs have had a profound and catalytic influence on molecular and cell biology – through application of existing tools to study molecular and cellular processes in new and creative ways, or through development of novel tools to study areas that were previously inaccessible. Recent examples include novel gene-editing technologies; single-cell multi-omics; single-cell and single-molecule imaging of dynamic processes; cryo-EM and x-ray free electron lasers to study macromolecular dynamics at atomic resolution; and molecular dynamics simulations at increasing spatiotemporal scales and complexity.

The purpose of this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) is to encourage submission of proposals to develop novel tools and methods that improve scientists’ abilities to measure, analyze, manipulate, or control critical aspects of cellular properties and functions in order to continue to push boundaries and open new avenues of inquiry in molecular and cellular biosciences.


We encourage forward-thinking ideas from the community for new tools or methods development in molecular and cell biology. Proposals should be submitted to one of the following two Divisions in the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO), depending on the range of applicability of the tool or method and its connection to a specific research question or to a more general topic or research direction, as detailed below:

  • Any Core Program in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) – if the proposed tool or method addresses a specific research question or hypothesis defined by and to be used primarily by an individual user or group of researchers. Such a project would be evaluated on the importance of the research question or hypothesis and the potential of the tool or method to improve scientists’ ability to investigate molecular and cellular mechanisms related to this question. In addition, researchers are encouraged to take risks in exploring new tools or methods if there is potential for paradigm shifts in our understanding of how cells work.
  • Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research (Innovation) Program in the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) – if the proposed tool or method is applicable to a broad class of biological research questions or topics and will meet the needs of a well-defined community of researchers. Such a project would be evaluated on its responsiveness to a broadly applicable research question in BIO, the specific BIO-funded research community that would benefit , a clear demonstration of how the innovation represents an advance over currently available tools or methods , and the quality of the requisite project management description . Although this DCL is encouraging proposal submissions related to molecular and cell biology, this program and all other DBI programs invite proposals on any area of biology that fit within its guidelines.


Proposals responsive to this DCL should be submitted as follows based on the above criteria:

  • Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences via full proposals to any program in the MCB core solicitation (currently NSF 23-548 ). As an alternate to full proposals, for exploratory projects that are "high-risk/high-payoff", investigators should consider the EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) type of proposal for up to $300,000 (including indirect costs) over two years. Specific instructions for preparation and submission of EAGER proposals can be found in Chapter II.F.3 of the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG; currently NSF 23-1 ). For EAGER inquiries, please submit a Concept Outline of the proposed work to the NSF Program Suitability & Proposal Concept Tool at . Be sure to select the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Division as the relevant NSF unit.
  • Division of Biological Infrastructure via proposals to the Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research (Innovation) Program via the IIBR solicitation (currently NSF 23-578 ).

The title of any proposal submitted to either division in response to this DCL should begin with "Tools4Cells:". Proposals may be submitted at any time.


MCB Core Programs

DBI IIBR Program

Simon Malcomber Acting Assistant Director Directorate for Biological Sciences


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BIO 1115: Cell Biology

  • Research Proposal
  • Topic Development
  • Proposal Outline
  • Literature Review

Testable Hypothesis

  • Final Proposal

What is a Hypothesis?

From central question to testable hypothesis.

Topic Development:  Two sample questions emerge from the two methods used:

Central Question(s)

In order to transform these questions into working thesis statements, start by simply shifting or reframing the verb  from a point of question to a point of declaration!

By shifting or reframing the  verb , these questions have now become testable Hypotheses  from which an experiment is designed, variables are tested, methods are established, data is gathered, evidence is given, and conclusions are demonstrated.

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cell biology research proposal

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Biology Research Proposal: Guidelines and Examples

This article will give you the guidelines on how to write a good research proposal. Furthermore, if you lack idea's for writing a research proposal in the field of Biology/Life science, you will find many idea's in this article which you can use to write a project proposal of your own.

Writing a good research proposal is part and parcel in the life of an academician, student, scientist. You may need to write research proposals for PhD applications, for scholarships, for post-doctoral fellowships, as well as for getting grants and funding. Guidelines You may be very intelligent and have an excellent idea but to convince others about your idea, you need to present it excellently. First of all of you need to plan out every detail of your idea, so that you can predict timeline, requirements and most importantly what all you can infer from your data. Secondly you need to write it out in such a manner that you convince the pioneers of your field that your idea is excellent and it should definitely be translated into actual research. While in some cases the format and word limit of the proposals is mentioned, in other cases you have to write according to your own judgement. The format of a research proposal should include the following basics. 1. Title: The title should be precise and unassuming. Do not write – 'To develop cure for cancer' if in actually you want to check metastatic properties of X compound. A proposal is the not place where you want to make an interesting title that doesn't speak sufficiently about the project. Don't write – 'How do lysosomes eat?' if your project is about pathways involved in degradation inside lysosomes. Be scientific. Don't make the title too lengthy such that it is difficult to understand. 2. Abstract / Summary: In most cases the person reviewing your proposal will decide to read the entire proposal only on the basis of your abstract. So your abstract should be succinct and catchy at the same time. Ideally don't let it exceed 250 words. Avoid excess of technical details in the abstract and emphasize more on the idea and its significance. 3. Significance: Write exactly why is your idea so important. What are the reasons that such research should definitely be carried out. What is the benefit from the research going to be? 4. Objectives/ Aims: Write down the different objectives and aims that are included in your project. It is preferable to break down your project into sections and give each of them a heading – these can act as your objectives/aims. 5. Background / Literature review: Here in put in all the data that has led to the idea. Give proper references for all of the information. Make sure that it flows in logical order and it is possible to connect the statements to each other. If possible divide the background into subheadings all of which reflect the individual objectives. Subheadings can also be made according to any other suitable factors. The background should only include what is relevant for your project and not excess details – e.g. you want to characterize expression level using RT-PCR. So don't start with history of RT-PCR etc., just give a few examples(along with references) wherein RT-PCR has been used for the same purpose. 6. Methodology: This is where you finally explain how you intend to go about your work. The level of detail depends upon the requirements of the reviewer. Usually for grants high level of detail is required in this step. Explain the methodology of each objective in explicit detail. Any references used in section should be properly mentioned. It is also advisable to include a timeline in this section. The timeline should show how much time will be required for each step (e.g. 1st objective – 6months, 2nd objective – 2 years etc.). It is ideal to include a flow chart that illustrates your methodology as well as timeline. Herein you should also include the expected results as well as what interpretations can be made from those results. Furthermore, you need to add what you would do next if you achieve those results – whatever they might be. 7. References: Make a list of all the references used in the proposal. They should be in any one of the standard formats such as APA or Harvard Style referencing. They can be ordered either alphabetically or according to order in which they appear in the proposal. There shouldn't be difference in font or format in the entire reference list. The references should not include general websites such as Wikipedia or blogs, they can include books and journal articles. Your proposal should be easy read. Highlight all the important points so that a person skimming through it is also able to get the complete gist. Always maintain flow of thought while writing. Double check your work for grammatical errors and typos as they leave a very bad impression on the reviewer. Make sure that any figures, tables or flow charts included in the proposal are properly labelled. Examples For those of you struggling for a good idea to write a proposal on here are a few suggestions: 1. Gene/protein characterization (Molecular Biology) : Pick your favourite pathway and see if any gene's functions are still not known completely. Many times books mention such genes/proteins which have still not been worked on much. Gene characterization can involve – its expression levels, whether it is under an inducible promoter or constitutive promoter, which all cells/tissues it expresses in, which developmental stage it expresses in, effect of knockdown/knockout of the gene etc. Protein characterization – in addition to the previous steps one include – structure, location within the cell, presence of PTMs, interacting partners etc. 2. Checking various properties of particular compound(s) (Biochemistry) : Pick a medicinal plant that has not been worked on much and check the properties of its extracts. These could include antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-cancer, etc. You can include further characterization of the extracts that give any positive result to identify the exact compound (by TLC, GC-MS, reagent based tests etc.). 3. Genome analysis for particular traits (Genomics/Bioinformatics) : You can compare genomes of species of economical or medical interest to find out different things such as difference in pathways, presence of homologs etc. You can either compare host and pathogen genomes or you can compare genomes of wild and true bred varieties of crop plants, or genomes of different types of parasite that attack the same host etc. 4. Effect of environmental factors on organisms (Environmental ecology/microbiology) : There are so many pollutants and chemicals in our environment. Pick one or few and develop a hypothesis on how they affect the local fauna and flora. Design experiments that can prove your hypothesis. 5. Population level studies: You can write a proposal about metagenomic studies carried out in different locations. E.g. Archaebacteria in swamp areas, fungi in Antarctic, bacteria in deep sea vents etc.

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I just wanted to add some more ideas in the area of biotechnology. Research on new genes and molecules and especially designing these in computer software may help in finding the medicines speedy. Also evolution of good and bad germs which affect and causes HIV, HINI, cancer to human beings, animals and plants. I hope the above ideas may also suit those who wanted to pursue their research in biology/bio technology. Also recently I read an article that, in India, the researchers are very less in this area.

I am trying to come up with a proposal for biological science project for my bachelors degree. Please give me some examples.

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