Supplemental Brain Initiative Funding
New Brain Initiative Funding
NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience
Next Generation Researchers
Thank you for subscribing to the Clinical and Translational Neuroscience newsletter. This month we update you on some new funding opportunities, including those from the BRAIN Initiative, changing policies that will impact NIH funded studies involving human subjects, and let you know about upcoming neuroscience events. Please visit our program area pages of the IHSI website for the latest news and grant opportunities. And as always, if you have an item to share with the neuroscience community at Illinois, we would be happy to feature it. Items can be submitted to Gillian Cooke, IHSI research development manager.
Supplemental BRAIN Initiative Funding | ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?
The BRAIN Initiative 2025 report stated that "the BRAIN Initiative should be a catalyst that will drive outstanding young people to enter this area at their most creative career stage." The NIH diversity supplement offers an opportunity for existing BRAIN awardees to request additional funds to train and mentor the next generation of researchers from underrepresented groups who will contribute to advancing the goals of the BRAIN Initiative. Among U.S. citizens at U.S. institutions, the percentage of neuroscience trainees from underrepresented groups declines from the graduate (14%) to the postdoctoral level (9%), and to 5% of the neuroscience tenure-stream faculty (2011 Survey Report of Neuroscience Departments and Programs). Based on data in the recently published 2015 Survey of Earned Doctorates, 15% of the U.S. citizens earning PhDs in neuroscience or neurobiology that year were from underrepresented groups, suggesting relatively little change in the diversity of neuroscience graduate students in the first half of this decade.
Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PI) of active BRAIN Initiative research program grants are thus encouraged to identify individuals from nationally underrepresented groups for support and mentorship under the auspices of this administrative supplement. Individuals from the identified groups are eligible throughout the continuum from high school to the faculty level. The activities proposed in the supplement application must fall within the scope of the parent grant, and both advance the objectives of the parent grant and support the research training and professional development of the supplement candidate. BRAIN Initiative PIs are strongly encouraged to incorporate training activities that will help prepare the supplement candidate to conduct rigorous research relevant to the goals of the BRAIN Initiative 2025 Report.
Educational goals for the NIH component of the BRAIN Initiative (see BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision) include acquisition of quantitative skills, the appropriate use and integration of newly developed tools, technologies and methods developed under the BRAIN Initiative, and consideration of the ethical implications of neuroscience research. The BRAIN 2025 Report notes that individuals should obtain robust grounding in quantitative reasoning, principles, and techniques during their training. A special focus is training in quantitative neuroscience, i.e., theory and statistics for biologists, and exposing physicists, engineers and statisticians to experimental neuroscience. The BRAIN 2025 Report strongly encourages scientists to cross traditional areas of expertise to conduct interdisciplinary research, and acknowledges the need to attract investigators and faculty recruits to neuroscience from quantitative disciplines, e.g., statistics, computer science, physics, mathematics, and engineering.
Read more here.
New and Renewed BRAIN Initiative Funding | APPLICATIONS OPEN
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 and other FOAs issued as part of the BRAIN Initiative are based on careful consideration by the NIH of the recommendations in 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.
The Tools to Facilitate High-Throughput Microconnectivity Analysis FOA seeks novel and augmented techniques that will ultimately be broadly accessible to the neuroscience community for the interrogation of microconnectivity in healthy and diseased brains of model organisms and humans. Development of technologies that will significantly drive down the cost of connectomics would enable routine mapping of the microconnectivity on the same individuals that have been analyzed physiologically, or to compare normal and pathological tissues in substantial numbers of multiple individuals to assess variability. Advancements in both electron microscopy (EM) and super resolution light microscopic approaches are sought.
Applications that propose to develop approaches that break through existing technical barriers to substantially improve current capabilities are highly encouraged. Proof-of-principle demonstrations and/or reference datasets enabling future development are welcome, as are improved approaches for automated segmentation and analysis strategies of neuronal structures in EM images.
While the Research on the Ethical Implications of Advancements in Neurotechnology and Brain Science FOA specifically seeks to support efforts addressing core ethical issues associated with research focused on the human brain and resulting from emerging technologies and advancements supported by the BRAIN Initiative. The hope is that efforts supported under this FOA might be both complementary and integrative with the transformative, breakthrough neuroscience discoveries supported through the BRAIN Initiative.
As always, you can check in on the IHSI Health Funding Opportunities Blog for updated opportunities. Don’t forget, if you are looking for a partner to develop a research proposal with, reach out to Gillian Cooke for some assistance!
NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research | NEW FOA AVAILABLE
The goal of this initiative is to achieve molecular, cellular, and circuitry level understanding of the dynamic interactions of neuroimmune components in the temporal transition from normal central nervous system (CNS) function to disease conditions. Alterations of peripheral immune function and central neuroimmune signaling have been linked to a broad spectrum of disorders, such as neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, degenerative diseases, addiction, pain, and obesity, as well as the aging process. Studies have shown that neuroimmune interactions are fundamental biological components of CNS function and dysfunction. Multiple CNS-resident cell types, such as microglia and astrocytes, dynamically detect the brain environment, regulate neuronal activity and neurocircuit function, and mediate neuroinflammatory responses through diverse activity states. Neuroimmune signaling mediated by these cell types is hypothesized to play an essential role in homeostatic regulation of normal neuronal activities, but also to contribute to pathophysiological states in the CNS by exerting damaging or reparative effects. Thus, glia cells, neurovascular units, as well as other neuroimmune components in the CNS, act as partners to neurons to maintain normal brain function and respond to challenges; as such, their neuroimmune signaling may play a crucial role in disease initiation and progression.
Previous findings have markedly advanced our knowledge of neuroimmune interactions in normal CNS function, neurodevelopment, and diseases. However, there is a lack of understanding of how dynamic changes in the multiple neuroimmune components mediate transitions from normal brain function to the early stages of CNS disorders, how changes in immune signaling are integrated into neuronal networks, and how disease progression is orchestrated by multiple neuroimmune components. A better understanding of dynamic interactions of neuroimmune components and the temporal transition to the disease process will provide a window into the early onset and progression of CNS disorders, which are poorly understood. Recent technological advances such as, but not limited to, measuring real-time gene and protein production in native environments, monitoring diverse cell phenotypes/states and cell-cell interactions, circuit-based multiplex profiling, as well as in vivo imaging of molecular and cellular components, have provided an unprecedented opportunity to track dynamic activity changes and generate snap shots of disease onset and progression at the molecular, cellular, and circuitry levels.
The outcomes of this initiative will define the role of multiple neuroimmune components in the transition from normal to disordered CNS function, which is critical for understanding disease onset and progression. In addition, gene and protein expression profiling of the temporal transition will define the time course of biomarkers and thus facilitate the design of effective therapeutic strategies for optimal timing at which therapies should be delivered. This FOA will consider experimental paradigms of CNS disorders across all temporal scales, from disease onset through progression. It encourages projects that combine diverse expertise and use innovative approaches to generate an integrative understanding of dynamic changes in multiple neuroimmune components, such as neurons, microglia, and astrocytes, leading to pathophysiology at the molecular, cellular and circuitry level.
RESEARCH AND OUTREACH
Optical Imaging Workshop | REGISTER NOW
Register now for the Diffuse Optical Imaging Workshop at the Beckman Institute on November 8-9, 2017. An optional third day on Nov. 10 includes a practica. Notes, reading materials, and software will be made available. Attendees should bring their own laptops to take notes and download course-related materials and software.
The workshop will include introductory lectures, and overview of recording and preprocessing, experimental design and applications, and data analysis theory and software.
For more information and to register see the webpage. Registration closes November 3, 2017.
Next Generation Researchers Initiative | NEW POLICY
Even with long-standing congressional support for early research independence2, NIH funding, and government-wide efforts to promote STEM workforce diversity3, early career scientists find it increasingly difficult to obtain support for a first research award, and retain that support in subsequent years.
Consistent with the directives of the 21st Century Cures Act, the Next Generation Researchers policy requires institutes and centers (ICs) to prioritize awards that will fund Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) and Early Established Investigators (EEIs).
Early Stage Investigator (ESI): An ESI is a Program Director / Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award. A list of NIH grants that a PD/PI can hold and still be considered an ESI can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/policy/early-investigators/list-smaller-grants.htm. ESIs are encouraged to enter the date of their terminal research degree or the end date of their post-graduate clinical training in their eRA Commons profile to ensure their correct identification.
Under the Next Generation Researchers policy, meritorious R01-equivalent applications with ESI PD/PIs will be prioritized for funding. ICs will put this prioritization into effect starting in fiscal year (FY) 2017. The goal for FY 2017 will be to fund approximately 200 more ESI awards than in FY 2016.
By providing funding priority for ESIs, NIH intends to encourage funding applications that involve researchers earlier in their career. An NIH R01-equivalent research grant application with more than one PD/PI (MPI) will be prioritized for funding only if all MPIs have ESI status.
Early Established Investigator (EEI): An EEI is a PD/PI who is within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH R01-equivalent research award as an ESI. A meritorious application with a designated PD/PI EEI may be prioritized for funding if:
- The EEI lost or is at risk for losing all NIH research support if not funded by competing awards this year, OR
- The EEI is supported by only one active award.
NIH will identify EEIs in their eRA Commons profile by January 2018. An NIH grant application with more than one PD/PI (MPI) will be prioritized for funding only if all MPIs have EEI status and meet prioritization criteria.
By providing funding priority for applications with EEIs, the NIH intends to stabilize the career trajectory of research investigators, consistent with the legal directives described herein. The goal for FY 2017 is to achieve an overall opportunity for funding 200 more EEIs across the NIH than in FY 2016.
To facilitate the development of evidence-based strategies consistent with the mandates of the 21st Century Cures Act, the Office of the NIH Director (OD) will centrally track and maintain an updated census of the status of ESIs and EEIs.
Find more information here.
NIH-funded Studies Involving Human Subjects| IMPORTANT CHANGES
First, familiarize yourself with the new PHS Human Subject and Clinical Trial Information form. For application due dates of January 25, 2018, and beyond, you will be required to use an updated application forms package (FORMS-E), which includes the new human subject and clinical trial form. This form requests human subject and clinical trials information at the study level using discrete form fields, which is a change from current practice. Contract proposals will also require this information. Learn about the new form here.
Second, take a moment to answer these four questions about your current or proposed research:
1) Does the study involve human participants?
2) Are the participants prospectively assigned to an intervention?
3) Is the study designed to evaluate the effect of the intervention on the participants?
4) Is the effect that will be evaluated a health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome?
If the answer to all four questions is yes, then your proposed research meets the NIH definition of a clinical trial. Clarified and broadened in 2014, the definition encompasses a wide range of trial types: mechanistic, exploratory/developmental, pilot/feasibility, behavioral, and more. NIH expanded the clinical trial definition in response to widespread calls from diverse stakeholders for improved reporting of research milestones and outcomes, and for assuring maximal transparency.
Need help determining whether your study would be considered by NIH to be a clinical trial? See the NIH webpage on the definition that includes case studies, FAQs and other resources that can help. Still unsure? Contact your NIH program official or the scientific point of contact listed on the funding opportunity announcement to which you are applying.
Third, familiarize yourself with NIH policy changes related to enhancing stewardship of clinical trials.
NIH made a number of policy changes to improve the stewardship of clinical trials across the life cycle of the trial. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with all that is changing, including:
- The requirement to apply to an FOA that specifically allows for the submission of clinical trial applications for due dates beginning January 25, 2018.
- Good Clinical Practice training expectations for NIH staff, grantees, and contractors that went into effect January 2017.
- Updated peer review criteria that will be included in FOAs for clinical trial applications and solicitations for due dates on/after January 25, 2018.
- New Human Subject Information form requirements for clinical trials that will be included in updated application forms (FORMS-E) for due dates on/after January 25, 2018, and contract solicitations published as of January 25, 2018.
- Use of a single IRB for non-exempt, multi-site clinical trials for application due dates on/after January 25, 2018.
- Expanded ClinicalTrials.gov registration and reporting to include all NIH supported clinical trials.
Improving the design, efficiency, and transparency of clinical trials is important because it:
- Respects our ethical obligation to participants to maximize the use of the knowledge from the trials in which they participate
- Facilitates design of clinical trials while reducing unnecessary duplication
- Promotes broad, timely, and responsible dissemination of research information and results
- Fosters responsible stewardship of the public’s investment in biomedical research
The NIH has developed a new Clinical Trial Requirements for NIH Grantees and Contractors web page to bring together all the information you need to know. Please review this information carefully. Your attention to detail will be critical to ensuring successful funding of your clinical trial awards.
The NIH will be putting out a series of reminder policy notices, training opportunities, and other resources in the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts, in the NIH Extramural Nexus, and on the blog.
Neuroscience Program Seminar Series Kicks Off | Mark Your Calendars
This year’s Neuroscience Program seminar series kicked off in September, and continues throughout the semester. October seminar speakers include:
Lu Chen 10/3/2017 Retinoic Acid Signaling in Synaptic Plasticity, Learning
and Fragile-X Syndrome
Rama Ratnam 10/10/2017 Optimal neural coding: Evolution meets information theory
Lori Isom 10/17/2017 Discovering Mechanisms of Epileptic Encephalopathy
Tracey Shors 10/24/2017 MAP Training: A Neurogenesis-Inspired Intervention that combines Mental and Physical Training to Enhance Brain Health in Humans
Also, keep your calendar free on October 31, 2017, at 4 p.m. The Neuroscience Program will host its annual SfN Night Pre-Poster Night. Here, students get the opportunity to present the research that they have submitted for this year’s SfN conference. This is a wonderful occasion to hear about the latest research coming out of the neuroscience labs on campus.
UPCOMING DATES AND DEADLINES
- NCI Application Deadlines: October 10, 2017; April 11, 2018; October 10, 2018; April 11, 2019
- NSF DARE Application Deadline: October 20, 2017
- Optical Imaging Workshop: November 3, 2017
Please email Gillian Cooke, IHSI research development manager, with your calendar item or announcement to share with the clinical and translational neuroscience community at Illinois.