NIH – BRAIN Initiative: Exploratory Team-Research BRAIN Circuit Programs – eTeamBCP (U01 Clinical Trials Optional)

March 11, 2022 by


This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is designed to support teams of three or more (up to six) PDs/PIs that seek to cross boundaries of interdisciplinary collaboration to elucidate the contributions of dynamic circuit activity to a specific behavioral or neural system. Applications are encouraged to propose adventurous and challenging goals that can only be tackled by a synergistic team-based approach and have the potential to be transformative and/or to enable significant advances. These studies at the exploratory stage are intended for the development of experimental capabilities and/or theoretical frameworks in preparation for a future competition for larger-scale or extended efforts, including the BRAIN TargetedBCP (R01) or the multi-component, Team-Research BRAIN Circuit Programs (U19).

The overall goal of this FOA is to enable a large-scale analysis of neural systems and circuits within the context and during the simultaneous measurement of an ethologically relevant behavior. Toward this end, teams are expected to assemble and leverage multi-disciplinary expertise, and to integrate experimental with computational and theoretical approaches. Teams are expected to bridge fields by incorporating rich information on cell-types, on circuit functionality and connectivity, in conjunction with sophisticated analyses of an ethologically relevant behavior of an organism or a well-defined neural system. Teams are also expected to aim for a mechanistic understanding of the circuits of the central nervous system (CNS) by applying cutting-edge methods such as those for large-scale recording, manipulation, and analysis of neural circuits across multiple regions of the CNS.


Since 2014, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative has aimed to accelerate the development and application of innovative neurotechnologies, enabling researchers to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that reveals how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that these advances will ultimately lead to new ways to treat and prevent brain disorders.

As one of several federal agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative, NIH’s contributions to the BRAIN initiative were initially guided by “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision,” a strategic plan that detailed seven high-priority research areas. This plan was updated and enhanced in 2019 by: “The BRAIN Initiative 2.0: From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures” and “The BRAIN Initiative and Neuroethics: Enabling and Enhancing Neuroscience Advances for Society.” This and other BRAIN Initiative Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) are based on this vision and issued with input from Advisory Councils of the 10 NIH Institutes and Centers supporting the BRAIN Initiative, as assisted by the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group.

The NIH BRAIN Initiative recognizes that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogeneous teams. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved populations participate in, and benefit from research, and enhancing public trust.

To support the best science, the NIH BRAIN Initiative encourages inclusivity in research. Examples of structures that promote diverse perspectives include but are not limited to:

  • Transdisciplinary research projects and collaborations among neuroscientists and researchers from fields such as computational biology, physics, engineering, mathematics, computer and data sciences, as well as bioethics.
  • Engagement from different types of institutions and organizations (e.g., research-intensive, undergraduate-focused, minority-serving, community-based).
  • Individual applications and partnerships that enhance geographic and regional heterogeneity.
  • Investigators and teams composed of researchers at different career stages.
  • Participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including groups traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce (see NOT-OD-20-031), such as underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women.
  • Project-based opportunities to enhance the research environment to benefit early- and mid-career investigators.

The NIH also encourages businesses to participate in the BRAIN Initiative. It is possible for companies to submit applications directly to BRAIN Initiative program announcements or to collaborate with academic researchers in joint submissions. Small businesses should consider applying to one of the BRAIN Initiative small business FOAs.

The BRAIN Initiative requires a high level of coordination and sharing between investigators. It is expected that BRAIN Initiative awardees will cooperate and coordinate their activities after awards are made by participating in Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) meetings and in other activities such as the annual PI meeting. The data sharing expectations for BRAIN Initiative awards can be found at NOT-MH-19-010.

This FOA is related to the Recommendations in Section III. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Final Report ( of the BRAIN working group. Specifically, this FOA solicits applications that will address the recommendations on “Maps at Multiple Scales”, “The Brain in Action”, “Demonstrating Causality”, “Identifying Fundamental Principles” and “From BRAIN Initiative to the Brain” (Section III Implementation: Goals, Deliverables, Timelines and Costs, Parts 2 3, 4, 5 and 7) of the Final Report.

Key Dates:

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): May 14, 2022
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): 30 days prior to the application due date
Earliest Applications Due: June 14, 2022

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Filed Under: Funding Opportunities