NIH – BRAIN Initiative: Research Resource Grants for Technology Integration and Dissemination (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative® is aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, will show how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that the application of these new tools and technologies will ultimately lead to new ways to treat and prevent brain disorders.

NIH is one of several federal agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative. Planning for the NIH component of the BRAIN initiative is guided by the long-term scientific plan, “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision,” which details seven high-priority research areas and calls for a sustained federal commitment of $4.5 billion over 12 years. This FOA and other FOAs issued in Fiscal Year 2018 are based on careful consideration by the NIH of the recommendations of the BRAIN 2025 Report, and input from the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group.  Videocasts of the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group are available at http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/about/mcwg.htm. 

To enable rapid progress in development of new technologies as well as in theory and data analysis, the BRAIN Initiative encourages collaborations between neurobiologists and scientists from statistics, physics, mathematics, engineering, and computer and information sciences; and NIH welcomes applications from investigators in these disciplines.

NIH encourages BRAIN Initiative applications from investigators who are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27 and the most recent report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). Such individuals include those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities. 

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 (http://braininitiative.nih.gov/funding/index.htm).

In addition to the National BRAIN initiative, the NIH continues to have a substantial annual investment in neuroscience research. The Institutes and Centers contributing to the NIH BRAIN Initiative (http://braininitiative.nih.gov/ ) support those research efforts through investigator-initiated applications as well as through specific FOAs. Potential applicants to this FOA are strongly encouraged to contact Scientific/Program staff if they have any questions about the best FOA for their research.

The BRAIN Initiative will require 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.

This FOA is related to the recommendations in Section III of the BRAIN 2025 Report.  Specifically, this FOA solicits applications that will address the recommendations on “Dissemination and training in new technologies” (Section III, Part 8b) from “Section III> Supporting the Core Principles of the BRAIN Initiative” of the Final Report.

Objectives

The overall goal of this FOA is to accelerate the scientific impact of the BRAIN Initiative through rapid dissemination of developed and validated technologies and resources broadly to the neuroscience research community. 

Projects may accomplish this goal by engaging in one or more of the following types of activities:

  • Production and distribution of reagents (e.g., viral vectors or transgenic lines) using quality control manufacturing processes
  • Services providing customized instrumentation based on end user needs
  • Provision of state-of-art components, devices, or integrated systems (e.g., for assaying neural activity and/or connectivity) either distributed to end users or operated as specialized core facilities with user engagement
  • Resources focused on enabling the translation of neurotechnologies for human use
  • Maintenance, minor enhancements, and distribution of open source computational models and software packages
  • User facilities that enable scientists from outside institutions to utilize specialized tools or techniques
  • Training in usage of the resource

 The following are examples of projects responsive to this FOA.  These are representative, but not exhaustive, examples.

  •  Consortium that provides screening services for voltage sensors and other probes for identifying changes in membrane potential or network modulatory states
  • Resource that provides reliable multichannel microelectrodes to the neuroscience community that are compatible with other recording technologies, such as optical imaging and stimulation or MRI
  • Imaging services for large-scale recording of neural activity from multiple brain areas or for large-scale sampling/manipulation of cellular activity with simultaneous whole-brain activity measurements
  • Maintenance, propagation, and distribution of viral vectors or other genetic tools for neural circuit identification
  • Dissemination of novel miniaturized wireless imaging systems and serving as a core resource for researchers
  • A resource that gathers, standardizes and streamlines the distribution of transgenic mouse models for neuroscience research

Projects must address one or more of the specific goals of the BRAIN Initiative, as described in the planning document “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision.”  Applications are not limited to existing BRAIN Initiative investigators or to technologies previously developed using BRAIN Initiative or NIH funds. Projects should address compelling needs of broad communities of investigators, or should offer justify the impact and unmet opportunity of providing the services at smaller scales. 

Proposed techniques, resources or approaches must be at a stage wherein the potential value for research is well established, through publications or other demonstration methods.  Projects focused on developing novel and unproven technologies are not responsive to this FOA. Applicants developing new technologies are encouraged to submit to one of the BRAIN technology development FOAs. Applications to develop web-accessible data archives are strongly recommended to consider funding through RFA-MH-19-145. Please see https://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/funding/ for more details about these and other BRAIN Initiative programs.

Integration of proven techniques to produce new experimental systems, or application of existing technologies to produce new reagents such as genetic lines or constructs with an existing technology, are appropriate, but need to be described clearly with timelines for completion of development and testing.  However, clear value to the intended user group must be demonstrated in the application.

For projects proposing the development of novel technologies/resources with commercial potential, potential applicants should consider funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program or the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.  Please see:  https://sbir.nih.gov/ for more details about these technology development programs.

The following types of activities are not responsive to this FOA:

  • Projects focused on developing novel and unproven technologies.
  • Projects focused solely on development of a specific technology or software.  Applicants considering such efforts are encouraged to explore alternative funding mechanisms. Use of existing technologies to develop new reagents, such as genetic lines or constructs, may be appropriate for this FOA, but clear value to the intended user group must be demonstrated in the application.
  • Projects that support clinical trials or provide patient services.  Applicants considering such efforts are encouraged to explore alternative funding mechanisms.
  • Projects proposing repositories of brain and related bio-specimens.

Resources are expected to be free from any patent or licensing constraints that would unduly restrict academic research use and impede achieving the goals of this funding program.  For resources requiring material from human subjects (e.g. DNA, fibroblasts, blood, tissue), broad sharing of the resource and any derivatives with academic and industry investigators is expected, consistent with achieving the goals of this program and consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and informed consents.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the Scientific/Research Contact listed below to discuss the alignment of their proposed work with the goals of this FOA, and the BRAIN Initiative Program.

Deadlines:  January 4, 2019, June 27 2019, February 27, 2020, November 27, 2020, June 27, 2021 (letters of intent due 30 days prior to the deadline)

URL:  https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-NS-19-006.html