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ICDS staff involved in establishment of $20M NSF-funded center

Posted on April 26, 2024

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $20 million grant to support the creation and operation of the National Synthesis Center for Emergence in the Molecular and Cellular Sciences (NCEMS), which will be led by Penn State and based at Penn State’s University Park campus.

The center will “enable research that uses existing, publicly available data to glean new insights about how complex biological systems, such as cells, emerge from simpler molecules,” according to an article on Penn State News.

NCEMS will involve more than 1,600 scientists from across the world and nation and will feature a strong outreach component. There will be multiple partnerships with minority-serving institutions, workshop offerings, training events and research-based learning opportunities, according to Penn State News.

Justin Petucci, NCEMS associate director and Penn State ICDS RISE Team member, Ed O’Brien, NCEMS director and Penn State professor of chemistry, and Vasant Honavar, NCEMS associate director for AI and strategic initiatives and Huck Chair in biomedical data sciences and artificial intelligence, are among the list of officials involved in the establishment of the center.

NCEMS’ vision is to “understand how life emerges from the unexpected appearance of new biological system properties at different scales of composition, space, time, energy, information and motion,” Penn State News said.

Infrastructure will be provided by the University of Arizona’s CyVerse initiative, which is also NSF supported.

To learn more about NCEMS and Penn State’s involvement in the establishment, visit $20M NSF grant will support center to study how complex biological processes arise – NCEMS (


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