USDA funding

Eric Richards richards at
Thu Oct 28 15:06:12 EST 2004

Dear Arabidopsis researchers,

In response to concerns in the community, the members of the North 
American Arabidopsis Steering Committee recently queried Anna C. 
Palmisano (Deputy Administrator, Competitive Programs, CSREES) 
regarding whether the USDA NRI program is changing the evaluation of 
proposals that concentrate on Arabidopsis research.  Below, for your 
information, is the response that we received.  We hope that this 
will be useful as you prepare proposals for upcoming NRI deadlines.

Best wishes,

Bonnie Bartel (Rice University) 
<mailto:bartel at>bartel at

Judith Bender (Johns Hopkins University) 
<mailto:jbender at>jbender at

Philip Benfey (Duke University) 
<mailto:philip.benfey at>philip.benfey at

Gregory Copenhaver (University of North Carolina) 
<mailto:gcopenhaver at>gcopenhaver at

Xing Wang Deng (Yale University) 
<mailto:xingwang.deng at>xingwang.deng at

C. Robertson McClung (Dartmouth University) 
<mailto:C.Robertson.McClung at>C.Robertson.McClung at

Eric Richards (Washington University) 
<mailto:richards at>richards at

Brenda Winkel (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) 
<mailto:winkel at>winkel at


Dear North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee,

Thank you for your inquiry about the National Research Initiative and 
our programs on plant biology. As you may know, the mission of CSREES 
is "to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human 
health and well being, and communities." All of the programs in the 
NRI as well as other CSREES programs support our agency mission.

Not surprisingly, crop plants and plants involved in agriculture are 
of a special interest to our agency-that interest is reflected in the 
language of our RFA. We are unique from other agencies, such as NSF, 
in that regard. NSF has the purview (and a much larger budget-over 
$3B total versus $165M for the total NRI) to study a wide range of 
fundamental questions in plant biology. They have been key partners 
on many of our programs.

Arabidopsis has provided an important understanding of basic plant 
biology, and certainly your committee should be congratulated for the 
important role they have played in galvanizing researchers in the 
field.  In reading the 2005 RFA, you will see that we have not 
precluded the use of Arabidopsis as a model system. However, we have 
asked that the investigators "clearly indicate how non-crop model 
studies are relevant to agriculture and food systems or forest 
species, the strategy for transferring the knowledge to these species 
for agricultural or forestry benefit, and the potential timeframe for 
such transfer."

I appreciate your interest in our programs-please feel free to 
contact me at 202-401-1761 if I can provide any further clarification.


Anna Palmisano

Anna C. Palmisano, Ph.D.

Deputy Administrator, Competitive Programs

Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service

800  9th St. SW, Waterfront Centre

Washington, DC 20024-2241

Phone: 202-401-1761

FAX: 202-401-1782

<mailto:apalmisano at>apalmisano at

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