NIH/NSF – Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science

December 2, 2020 by


The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have released an interagency solicitation on “Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science” through the Smart and Connected Health (SCH) program. The SCH program supports innovative, high-risk, high-reward research to promote transformations in biomedical research that can only be achieved through inter-disciplinary approaches that draw from “multiple domains of computer and information science, engineering, mathematical sciences and the biomedical, social, behavioral, and economic sciences.” In particular, projects funded from this solicitation must make fundamental contributions to two or more of these disciplines in order to improve understanding in biomedical and health related processes and to address a key health problem. Projects should advance understanding of how “computing, engineering and mathematics, combined with advances in behavioral and social science research, would support transformations in health, medicine and/or healthcare and improve the quality of life.”


Proposals may address computational, algorithmic, data fusion and systemic level issues in biomedical data science research. Additionally, proposals can address human perceptual, cognitive, or behavioral factors that impact the effectiveness of technology and data science research in generating change. The solicitation states that “traditional disease-centric medical, clinical, pharmacological, biological or physiological studies and evaluations are outside the scope of this solicitation.” This SCH solicitation includes participation from the NSF Directorates for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Engineering (ENG), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) as well as 23 NIH Institutes and Centers as listed in the solicitation.

Projects addressing these multidisciplinary challenges require fundamental research and development of new tools, workflows and methods. Some of the themes relevant to this solicitation include:

  • • Information infrastructure – fundamental research in data management;
  • • Transformative data science – development of novel computational approaches;
  • • Novel multimodal sensor system hardware – to develop predictive and personalized models of health;
  • • Effective usability – including ethical, behavioral and social considerations;
  • • Automating health – to enable interoperable, temporally synchronized, devices and systems;
  • • Medical image interpretation – to inform and improve use and development of presentation modalities; and
  • • Unpacking health disparities – to develop “holistic, data-driven or mathematical models to address the structural and/or social determinants of health.”

Research teams are required to include members with appropriate and demonstrable expertise in the major areas involved in the work. Projects are expected to include students and postdocs, and all projects are required to have a collaboration plan. Proposals will be reviewed under the standard NSF criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. For proposals selected for funding by participating NIH Institutes and Centers, investigators will be required to resubmit to NIH’s Center for Scientific Review following resubmission procedures provided by NIH

Award Information: The estimated number of awards are 10 to 16 per year with a total anticipated funding amount of $16 million to $20 million for fiscal year (FY) 2021. Individual projects will be funded for up to four years for a total of $1.2 million ($300,000 per year).

Eligibility: Institutions of higher education and non-profit, non-academic organizations are eligible to apply. Investigators may serve as Principal Investigator, co-Principal Investigator, Project Director, Senior Personnel or Consultant on no more than two proposals submitted in response to this solicitation.

Key Dates:

Proposals must be submitted by February 16, 2021. Subsequent due dates for this solicitation are November 10, 2021 and November 10, 2022.

URL for more information:

Sources and Additional Information:

  • • The full solicitation can be found at

  • • More information on the SCH program can be found at

Filed Under: Funding Opportunities