This FOA will support integrated, interdisciplinary research teams that focus on examining dynamic circuit functions related to behavior, using advanced and innovative technologies. The FOA will support programs with a necessarily-synergistic, team science approach. Awards will be made for 5 years, with a possibility of one competing renewal. Applications should focus on overarching principles of circuit function in the context of specific neural systems underlying sensation, perception, emotion, motivation, cognition, decision-making, motor control, communication, or homeostasis. Applications should aim to understand these circuits of the central nervous system by systematically controlling stimuli and/or behavior while actively recording and/or manipulating relevant dynamic patterns of neural activity and by measuring the resulting behaviors and/or perceptions. Applications are expected to employ approaches and experimental design guided by specified theoretical constructs, are encouraged to employ quantitative, mechanistic and predictive models where appropriate. Model systems, including the possibility of multiple species ranging from invertebrates to humans, can be employed and should be appropriately justified. Programs should employ multi-component teams of research expertise – including neurobiologists, statisticians, physicists, mathematicians, engineers, computer scientists, and data scientists, as appropriate – that seek to cross boundaries of interdisciplinary collaboration. Applications will be required to manage their data and analysis methods in a framework that will be developed and used in the proposed U19 project and exchanged with other BRAIN U19 awardees for further refinement and development.
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.
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