NIH – HEAL Initiative Healthy Brain and Child Development Study (HEALthy BCD) R34 Clinical Trial Not Allowed

January 10, 2019 by


The current opioid epidemic has led to dramatic increases in the number of children pre- or postnatally exposed to opioids. In 2014, one infant was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) every 15 minutes. But this is not the only risk to infants—other substances (some prescribed) are also used during pregnancy and continued during breastfeeding; and other adverse experiences, such as parental stress, food or housing insecurity, and exposure to toxic metals (e.g., lead) also occur. At the same time, protective factors such as prenatal vitamins, good nutrition, adequate sleep, physical activity, and supportive partners, family, or communities may counter some of the impact of the risks noted above.

Currently, no large prospective cohort study has been conducted to comprehensively assess typical brain development or the long-term consequences of early adverse experiences or exposure to opioids, other drugs (including prescribed medication), or other substances (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, cannabis), on the developing child’s brain and behavior. Furthermore, a causal link to substance exposure itself is often difficult to establish due to confounding factors such as socioeconomic, environmental, cultural, and genetic influences. Given the plasticity of the infant brain, it is even more important to understand the protective and resiliency factors that may ameliorate the effects of these exposures and may inform the development of early interventions.


The NIH has released two Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) soliciting applications for planning and initial development (Phase I) for a large scale multi-site research study (Phase II) to prospectively examine human brain, cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional development beginning prenatally through childhood (e.g., age 9-10), and the long-term impacts of pre/postnatal drug (expected oversampling for opioid prenatal exposures) and adverse environmental exposures on brain and behavioral health and risk for substance use and mental disorders.

One FOA (19-029) is to be used when two or more collaborating sites are essential to complete the proposed research, and the other (19-036) should be used for proposals with only one research site.

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

February 25, 2019

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

30 days prior to the application due date

Application Due Date(s)

March 25, 2019), by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on this date.

No late applications will be accepted for this Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

Expiration Date

March 26, 2019


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities