Science Foundation Awards $450,000 in Taxpayer-Funded Grant to Study ‘Evolution of Venom Proteins in Sea Anemones’


( – The National Science Foundation’s March 3 grant announcements includes a $450,000 taxpayer-funded grant to Ohio State University to study the “evolution of venom proteins in sea anemones.”The abstract of the grant reads: “Venom mediates interactions between sea anemones and the rest of their communities: it defends them from predators, helps them gain prey, and is modified to support symbioses.

“Understanding the evolution of venom will impact our ability to predict the reactivity and function of venoms within the groups, but will also help us understand how interactions between organisms become codified in genes and how these genes change in response to changes in the organismal interactions,” the abstract states.

The foundation’s budget request for fiscal year 2013 was $7.373 billion – up $340 million from the fiscal year 2012 request.

“(The) request reflects wise stewardship of federal funding through innovative, targeted investments that closely align with both agency and administration priorities,” the foundation website states.

In response to a question from asking how the foundation justifies this kind of taxpayer-funded study given the budget cuts put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, spokeswoman Dana Topousis cited a memorandum issued Feb. 27 by NSF Director Subra Suresh.

The memo said funding for the foundation would be reduced by five percent under the budget cuts. In the memo, Suresh said the foundation’s goal while operating under the budget cuts would be threefold: To protect commitments to NSF’s core mission and maintain existing awards, protect the foundation’s workforce and protect STEM human capital development programs.

Topousis said the budget cuts would affect future awards.

“We receive more than 50,000 proposals per year, and fund about 11,000 of those,”Topousis, adding that 1,000 less grants will be awarded in 2013.

“As you can imagine, that will have quite an impact on the research community in the United States,” Topousis said.

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