Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation – Instrument Grant for Advanced Light-Sheet Microscopy and Data Science

November 21, 2019 by


The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation’s mission is to provide funding for promising technologies, particularly in cutting edge instrumentation and interfaces between disciplines. In support of this mission, the Foundation is requesting proposals for a one-time grant opportunity for the procurement and potential further development of groundbreaking advanced light-sheet instrumentation capabilities, including establishment of robust multidisciplinary science/technology teams involving data scientist collaborations within the research group. The Foundation will provide support of up to $1.2 million per site, which can be used for instrumentation acquisition, development, and maintenance; support for data science collaborations within the research teams; and costs for the proposed research programs. Applicant institution(s) must demonstrate their commitment for additional funding beyond the $1.2 million support from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, if necessary to complete the objectives of the program described below. Additional information on the institutional support requirements can be found in the template in the online application portal.

The Foundation will use a two-stage submission process, starting with an open call for Pre-Proposals followed by a request for Full Proposals from invited institutions.


Advanced microscopy, enabled by recent advances in physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, and biology, is opening new windows into the anatomy and behavior of cells and tissues. While established modalities such as confocal, two-photon and super-resolution microscopies have contributed greatly to experimental investigations in many fields, the tradeoffs in speed, photo-damage, and resolution often limit our ability to capture complex cellular processes. Emerging light-sheet microscopy tools, however, are enabling rapid three-dimensional (3D) imaging of single molecules, living cells, organs, and even whole animals over time with minimal toxicity. The impact of technological breakthroughs using advanced light-sheet microscopy instrumentation and accompanying methods have the potential to create an unprecedented understanding of the intricate dynamics of cells and their components within living specimens.

Institutions that have made investments in advanced light sheet microscopy have observed that the size and complexity of the data obtained with these new 3D imaging capabilities have created a bottleneck to the advancement and wide-scale adoption of these technologies. There is a critical need for new strategies to address data collection, storage, image registration and organization, and subsequent image quantification and interpretation. This need will only be addressed through the close integration of data processing and analysis personnel together with imaging specialists and biologists to maximize the impact of these promising new technologies and will be central to future biological discoveries.

Applicants should propose light-sheet microscope modalities that are both necessary and appropriate for their specific proposed research program, including, but not limited to, super-resolution light-sheet, lattice light-sheet, Airy beam light-sheet, single-optic light-sheet, and multi-photon imaging. Proposals for procurement of commercial systems, instrument build or development, and/or significant adaptation or improvement of existing light-sheet microscopy capabilities will be considered. If any instrumentation development work is proposed, then the proposal must also address the engineering approach and plans to complete the technology development, and how these developments will further the specific biological aims. The Foundation recognizes that these development approaches may be higher risk, and so Full Proposals shall also address alternative strategies that will be pursued should one or more aspects of the new technological developments fail to achieve their proposed performance metrics. Applicants shall identify the configuration of microscope or components and detectors that will be purchased in the proposal and justify why that level of capability is necessary and appropriate for the proposed research program. The Foundation also recognizes that there are rapid advancements being made in the field of light-sheet microscopy, and updates to the exact configuration of the proposed microscope modality will be allowed at the Full Proposal stage and will be considered at the award stage. All equipment purchases and installation must be complete within two years of the program awards, currently anticipated in January 2021.

Key Dates

Pre-Proposal Submission deadline: March 6, 2020 at 5 pm Pacific/8 pm Eastern.

URLs for more information

Any questions regarding application submission can be directed to Anne Hultgren at

Online submission portal:

Filed Under: Funding Opportunities