McKnight Foundation Funding
NIH SPARC Notice
Global Brain Mapping Project
Mayo Clinic SURF Program
This month, we update you on several interesting neuroscience events and funding opportunities. Please visit the clinical and translational neuroscience section of the IHSI website for the latest news and information.
As always, if you have an item to share with the neuroscience community at Illinois, we would love to include it here. Email Gillian Cooke, IHSI research development specialist, with your item.
$200,000 for Neuroscience Research | MCKNIGHT FOUNDATION
The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience supports innovative research designed to more accurately diagnose, prevent, and treat diseases of the brain. To this end, the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience invites letters of intent for the 2017 McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Awards.
These awards encourage and support scientists working on the development of novel and creative approaches to understanding brain function. The fund supports efforts to examine how a new technology may be used to monitor, manipulate, analyze, or model brain function at any level, from the molecular to the entire organism. Technology may take any form, from biochemical tools to instruments to software and mathematical approaches. Because the program seeks to advance and enlarge the range of technologies available to the neurosciences, research based primarily on existing techniques will not be considered.
A goal of the technology awards is to foster collaboration between the neurosciences and other disciplines; therefore, collaborative and cross-disciplinary applications are explicitly invited.
Up to three awards are made annually, each providing $100,000 (per year) for two years, with funding beginning August 1, 2017.
Investigators conducting research at institutions within the United States are invited to apply. Applicants must be in tenured or tenure-track faculty positions, and may not be employees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute or scientists within the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health. Funds may be used toward a variety of research activities, but not the recipient’s salary.
Letter of intent is due December 5, 2016. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit full applications. Visit the McKnight Endowment Fund website for complete program guidelines and application procedures.
Data and Resource Center for SPARC | NIH NOTICE
Through the Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program, the NIH supports multidisciplinary teams of investigators to deliver foundational understanding of the physiological mechanisms of neural control of several major organs, novel electrode designs, minimally invasive surgical procedures, and stimulation protocols. Driven by end goals of improving existing, and developing new, neuromodulation therapies to relieve conditions, the program is iterative and dynamic, with the technologies informing neural mapping efforts, and the mapping results defining new technology requirements.
The primary goal of the Data and Resource Center (DRC) is to produce detailed, predictive, functional and anatomical neural circuit maps of the autonomic and sensory innervation of multiple internal organs or organ systems, using the data generated by the various projects funded through SPARC. This center will assemble and manage data from all SPARC components into a coordinated data resource, develop a "living" map of the neural circuits innervating the organs, and incorporate methods for modeling the data. The DRC will serve as a hub for the research, engineering, and clinical communities, providing knowledge and tools to advance neuromodulation of organs or organ systems.
A planned funding opportunity will solicit applications from investigators to develop the DRC. It is anticipated that any team of investigators will include specific expertise in relevant mapping (including but not necessarily limited to physiological, anatomical, genomic/transcriptomic), data management and coordination, and multi-scale modeling, to be able to achieve the primary goals of:
- Administrative: The Administrative Core will provide leadership and oversee the operations of the DRC. In addition, because the DRC is envisioned as the central hub and main deliverable of SPARC, the Administrative Core will have some Program-wide responsibilities. These may include, for example: convening the SPARC external consultants and steering committee, coordinating cross-cutting working groups across SPARC project areas, and implementing plans for internal evaluation and self-assessment.
- Data Coordination: The Data Coordination Core will manage and facilitate access to anatomical and functional map data, metadata, protocols, and tools, and develop a framework for enabling the evaluation of comparative datasets that deal with both animal models and human data. This Core will be responsible for providing guidance to projects within the SPARC program by defining data quality assurance, common data elements and standardized approaches so that data can be minable and comparable.
- Mapping: The Mapping Core will be responsible for developing and managing dynamic "living" maps of the major circuitry of the nervous system and innervation of end organs, as well as the functional aspects of such circuits. The Mapping Core will be expected to ensure these dynamic and evolving maps are easily accessible by the research community, both visually (by humans) and programmatically (by machines).
- Modeling: The Modeling Core will be responsible for hosting and/or generating predictive computational models of the nerve-organ systems under study. The Modeling Core will also be tasked with higher-level functions such as identifying high-priority experimental areas based on underconstrained model parameters, building links between models to allow the construction of composite models. Integrated components could include those created by SPARC investigators, as well as those made available by others. DRC users should be able to interactively alter model parameters and observe the resulting changes, as well as view the experimental sources of key model parameters. Models should be predictive, allowing parameters to be modified beyond what was present in their training data.
This Notice encourages those with relevant expertise and insights to begin to consider applying for this new funding opportunity.
Be sure to keep an eye on the Neuroscience Grants Calendar for more info about this upcoming funding opportunity.
Shared Ethics for those using Apple's ResearchKit | GUIDELINES
Those in clinical and translational neuroscience understand well that the first step to battling neurological disease or disorder is understanding it. Apple’s ResearchKit is one tool that is helping researchers realize this ambition. ResearchKit is an open source framework for building apps, which according to Apple, can make it easier to recruit participants and run studies. As we all know, recruiting clinical participants can be extremely difficult; numbers are often low, diversity is often lacking, and logistics can be a nightmare. The development of mobile applications that can be downloaded on wireless phones has opened up a new realm of participants to researchers who are motivated to answer important health questions. From tracking concussions, sleep, and diabetes, to predicting seizures, the ResearchKit gives clinicians and researchers a way to bring research to participants.
However, supervising data collection on apps it tricky. Determining who can consent to take part in a study, and more importantly, who is monitoring this process hasn’t always been clear cut. As a result, Apple has increased the review guidelines that its apps must pass before they get uploaded to the App Store. Apple now requires that any app developed to conduct health-related human subjects research must have:
- Review and approval by an independent ethics committee; and
- An informed consent
They also mention that they have the right to request documents to verify approval. While these guidelines may seem basic to experienced researchers, they do make a move in the right direction, towards a climate of shared ethics in app development. While the responsibility is still on the researcher to ensure that they are compliant, both with their local IRB, and with the Apple guidelines, Apple does reserve the right to monitor apps that are developed on its platform and remove them when necessary.
Global Brain Initiative | LAUNCHED
At a side event during the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, Thomas Shannon discussed brain science as a foreign policy priority with The Kavli Foundation, The U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Global Partnerships Forum. Stating that international collaboration among governments, the private sector, academia, and philanthropic organizations will be essential for tackling a task as complex as understanding the human brain. Toward this end, the United States, in collaboration with Japan, Germany, Argentina, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, announced the launch of an International Brain Initiative, part of which is a virtual International Brain Station, to enhance and facilitate global collaboration on both basic and disease-focused brain science research.
According to the US Department of State, the “International Brain Initiative aims to foster coordination of large-scale brain projects around the world in partnership with governments, research institutions, private sector, foundations, advocacy groups, and social innovators. With its genesis in the scientific community, the International Brain Station concept will be a community-based mechanism for coordinating data and information from brain science projects around the world.”
At a concurrent meeting hosted by the NSF, researchers proposed the design of universal brain-mapping tools, and the establishment of an International Brain Observatory, with tools such as powerful microscopes and supercomputing resources that scientists from around the world could access. There was also discussion of a virtual, cloud-based data-sharing resource, analogous to the GenBank genomics resource. This virtual International Brain Station could automatically convert data from human brain scans or animal gene expression into standardized formats that would allow more people to analyze them.
While details of the global brain initiative are still unclear, excitement and concern has spread through the neuroscience community. Excitement for the possibilities of advancement in our knowledge about the brain, but concern about what this means for existing projects, and the resources that have been committed to date.
By sure to watch this e-newsletter for updates about this incredibly exciting prospect.
SURF PROGRAM | Illinois Pre-Selection for Mayo Clinic Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows
Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have once again partnered to provide an outstanding opportunity for our undergraduates to serve as Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota or Jacksonville, Florida. Up to seven fellowships in this highly successful program have been reserved for Urbana campus undergraduates.
Urbana campus undergraduates who are currently in their sophomore or junior year, with a minimum 3.0 GPA are eligible to apply. Find out about the Illinois undergraduate pre-selection process at the Mayo Clinic and Illinois Alliance website. Then, complete the online pre-selection application and submit all materials by December 1, 2016. Letters of recommendation are required from two references. Letters should be sent as .pdf files directly to Maggie Berg Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representatives of the Illinois Steering Committee will select up to seven Urbana campus undergraduates. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision on January 18, 2017. Successful applicants must use the same application materials to complete Mayo Clinic’s formal online application prior to the hard deadline of February 1, 2017. All applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their applications to the Mayo Clinic’s online application system in addition to applying through the Illinois pre-selection process.
Learn more about the SURF program here.
IMPORTANT DATES AND DEADLINES
- BRAIN Initiative Brain Imaging and Recording/Neuromodulation Letter of Intent: October 23, 2016
- Neural Regulation of Cancer: October 26, 2016
- Mayo Clinic SURF Pre-selection Application: December 1, 2016
- McKnight Technology Awards Letter of Intent: December 5, 2016
Email Gillian Cooke, IHSI research development specialist, with a calendar item or announcement to share with the clinical and translational neuroscience community at Illinois.