New Brain Funding
Clinical Trials: Changes
This month, we update you on new funding opportunities, including those from the BRAIN Initiative, changing policies that will impact NIH funded studies involving clinical trials, 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 Snyder, IHSI research development manager.
Latest Funding from Brain Initiative | APPLY NOW
Over the last few weeks, a range of new and reissued funding opportunities have been announced from the NIH. 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 that are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce (see NSF data here 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, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Exploratory Team-Research BRAIN Circuit Programs
The purpose of this FOA is to promote the integration of experimental, analytic, and theoretical capabilities for large-scale analysis of neural systems and circuits. This FOA seeks applications for exploratory research studies that use new and emerging methods for large scale recording and manipulation of neural circuits across multiple brain regions. Applications should propose to elucidate the contributions of dynamic circuit activity to a specific behavioral or neural system. Applications should seek to understand 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. Studies should incorporate rich information on cell-types, on circuit functionality and connectivity, and should be performed in conjunction with sophisticated analysis of complex, ethologically relevant behaviors. Applications should propose teams of investigators that seek to cross boundaries of interdisciplinary collaboration by bridging fields and linking theory and data analysis to experimental design. Exploratory studies supported by this FOA are intended to develop experimental capabilities and quantitative, theoretical frameworks in preparation for a future competition for larger-scale, multi-component, Team-Research Circuit Programs (U19) awards.
Targeted BRAIN Circuits Projects
This FOA solicits applications for research projects that use innovative and methodologically-integrated approaches to understand how circuit activity gives rise to mental experience and behavior. The goal is to support projects that can realize a meaningful outcome within 5 years. Applications should address circuit function in the context of specific neural systems such as sensation, perception, attention, reasoning, intention, decision-making, emotion, navigation, communication, or homeostasis. Projects should link theory and data analysis to experimental design and should produce predictive models as deliverables. Projects should aim to improve the understanding of circuits of the central nervous system by systematically controlling stimuli and/or behavior while actively recording and/or manipulating dynamic patterns of neural activity. Projects can use non-human animal species, and applications should explain how the selected species offers ideal conditions for revealing general principles about the circuit basis of a specific behavior.
Exploratory Research Opportunities Using Invasive Neural Recording and Stimulating Technologies in the Human Brain
Invasive surgical procedures provide the unique ability to record and stimulate neurons within precisely localized brain structures in humans. Human studies using invasive technology are often constrained by a limited number of patients and resources available to implement complex experimental protocols and are rarely aggregated in a manner that addresses research questions with appropriate statistical power. Therefore, this FOA seeks applications to assemble integrated, multi-disciplinary teams to overcome these fundamental barriers. Projects should investigate high-impact questions in human neuroscience. The research should be offered as exploratory research and planning activities to establish feasibility, proof-of-principle and early-stage development that will later compete for continued funding under new or ongoing FOAs of the BRAIN Initiative or under NIH Institute appropriations. Projects should maximize opportunities to conduct innovative in vivo neuroscience research made available by direct access to brain recording and stimulating from invasive surgical procedures. In addition, projects that aim to implement novel methods of temporally-linked brain-behavior quantification in laboratory and real-world settings are encouraged.
Awardees will join a consortium work group, coordinated by the NIH, to identify consensus standards of practice as well as supplemental opportunities to collect and provide data for ancillary studies, and to aggregate and standardize data for dissemination among the wider scientific community.
Tools to Target, Identify and Characterize Non-neuronal Cells in the Brain:
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement [FOA] submitted through the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is to stimulate the development and validation of novel tools and analytical methods to target, identify and characterize non-neuronal cells in the brain. This FOA complements previous and ongoing cell-census and tool development efforts initiated under BRAIN, RFA-MH-14-215 and RFA-MH-14-216 that have focused almost exclusively on neuronal cells. The cutting-edge tools and methods developed under this opportunity should focus specifically on providing improved points of entry into non-neuronal cell-types (glial and vascular) to enable their inventory and characterization within the CNS and help define how these cells interact among each other and with neuronal cells to impact functional circuitries. Plans for validating the utility of the tool/technology/method and demonstrating its advantage over currently available approaches will be an essential feature of a successful application. Tools that can be used in several species or model organisms rather than in a single species are especially desirable.
As always, you can check in on the IHSI Grants Blog for updated opportunities. Don’t forget, if you are looking for a partner to develop a research proposal with, reach out to Gillian Snyder for some assistance!
Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience | NOMINATIONS OPEN
The Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience is awarded annually by the McGovern Institute to recognize outstanding advances in the field of neuroscience. The prize, which is endowed through a gift from Merck to the McGovern Institute, consists of a $150,000 award, plus an inscribed gift. The recipient of the Scolnick Prize presents a public lecture at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research in the spring of 2018. A dinner for the recipient and invited guests follows the prize lecture.
Candidates for the award must be nominated by individuals affiliated with universities, hospitals, medicals schools, or research institutes, with a background in neuroscience. Self-nomination is not permitted. Each nomination should include:
- A biosketch or CV of the nominee
- A letter of nomination with a summary and analysis of the major contributions of the nominee to the field of neuroscience
- Up to two representative reprints will be accepted
Nomination Deadline: December 15, 2017
RESEARCH & OUTREACH
Input from Surgeons and Interventionalists Needed | RESPOND NOW
This RFI seeks to gather input from surgeons, interventionalists, and other relevant clinicians on partnering to improve the clinical study of neuromodulation devices, specifically in applications involving peripheral or spinal neuromodulation of organ function. Currently, SPARC supports a wide array of anatomical and physiological studies, including some that are intended as proofs of concept for eventual clinical applications. These studies make use of neuromodulation technologies at varying levels of maturity, from those that have FDA clearance or approval for certain uses, to others that are studied only nonclinically. For example, pre-clinical efforts are exploring the use of vagal neuromodulation approaches (IPGs and cuff electrodes) to treat the symptoms of asthma (cervical and pulmonary branch of the vagus) and diabetes (sub-diaphragmatic vagal trunk), spinal cord stimulation for gastroparesis and subcutaneous nerve stimulation for arrhythmia control. Other intervention points that may be identified by SPARC’s anatomical and physiological projects include sensory and autonomic innervation of the lower urinary tract, colon and adipose tissue. In some cases, neuromodulation devices will be part of a closed-loop platform that includes sensing technologies for measuring organ function, such as gastric EMG recording to inform neuro-electric control of gastric motility and bladder pressure/volume monitoring for neuromodulation therapies targeting the lower urinary tract. SPARC’s technology development projects are also exploring the potential for using non-electrical neuromodulation approaches, like optogenetics and ultrasound.
The NIH encourages submissions by any method convenient to the respondent. Written comments may be emailed to SPARC_TPNI@mail.nih.gov. Audio files such as smartphone or dictaphone voice memos may be attached and emailed to the same address. Voice mail messages may be left to Dr. Siavash Vaziri at 301-594-8921.
To ensure consideration, responses must be communicated by December 1, 2017.
Review Criteria for Clinical Trials | NEW POLICY
This notice informs the community of additional review criteria that NIH will apply to clinical trial applications for research projects submitted to due dates on or after January 25, 2018. Listed below are some examples of the review questions that will be effective for all clinical trial applications for research project grants and cooperative agreements that are submitted for funding consideration. For the evaluation of those applications, the questions below will be added to the existing review questions, which will not change for research project applications that do not involve clinical trials.
Scored Review Criteria
Are the scientific rationale and need for a clinical trial to test the proposed hypothesis or intervention well supported by preliminary data, clinical and/or preclinical studies, or information in the literature or knowledge of biological mechanisms?
With regard to the proposed leadership for the project, do the PD/PI(s) and key personnel have the expertise, experience, and ability to organize, manage and implement the proposed clinical trial and meet milestones and timelines? Do they have appropriate expertise in study coordination, data management and statistics? For a multicenter trial, is the organizational structure appropriate and does the application identify a core of potential center investigators and staffing for a coordinating center?
Does the design/research plan include innovative elements, as appropriate, that enhance its sensitivity, potential for information or potential to advance scientific knowledge or clinical practice?
Does the application adequately address the following, if applicable?
Is the study design justified and appropriate to address primary and secondary outcome variable(s)/endpoints that will be clear, informative and relevant to the hypothesis being tested?
Data Management and Statistical Analysis
Are planned analyses and statistical approach appropriate for the proposed study design and methods used to assign participants and deliver interventions?
If proposed, are the administrative, data coordinating, enrollment and laboratory/testing centers, appropriate for the trial proposed?
Additional Review Criteria
Is the study timeline described in detail, taking into account start-up activities, the anticipated rate of enrollment, and planned follow-up assessment?
Going to No-deadlines | CHANGES ANNOUNCED BY NSF
A recent Dear Colleague Letter from the NSF indicated the Directorate for Biological Sciences would be implementing a “No-Deadline” full proposal submission process for most programs. By accepting proposals at any time, they believe that investigators will have greater opportunities to prepare their proposals, build strong collaborations, and think more creatively, thereby resulting in more complex, interdisciplinary projects that have the potential to dramatically advance biological science. They anticipate that the elimination of deadlines will reduce the burden on institutions and the community by expanding the submission period over the course of the year, in contrast to the previous fixed yearly deadlines.
For these changes to take effect, the core programs in Division of Environmental Biology (DEB), the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS), the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB), and in the programs in the Research Resources Cluster of the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) are discontinuing use of the preliminary proposal mechanism in 2018. There will be no call for preliminary proposals in January 2018.
Awards will be made, with FY 2018 funds, for full proposals that were invited for submission based on the review of preliminary proposals submitted in January, 2017 to DEB (solicitations NSF 17-512 and NSF 17-513) and to IOS (NSF 17-508). FY 2018 funds will also be used to make awards for full proposals submitted to MCB for the November 20, 2017 deadline (NSF 17-589) and to DBI for the August 14, 2017, September 8, 2017, and December 8, 2017 deadlines (NSF 15-577, NSF 15-582, and NSF 16-506 respectively). Thereafter, these solicitations will be archived and will no longer accept proposals. All four divisions will release new solicitations to replace these in the middle of calendar year 2018, inviting proposals to be funded with FY 2019 funds. There will be no deadlines for submissions to any of the new solicitations.
Additional information will be available in the near future in the form of Frequently Asked Questions, webinars, and presentations. You are strongly encouraged to register here to receive alerts of these documents and activities. Please direct your comments and questions about these changes to BIOnodeadline@nsf.gov. Each Division (DEB, IOS, DBI, and MCB ) has produced a blog about this change, addressed specifically to their communities; we encourage you to check these out.
This workshop will cover the basics of how EEG/ERPs are used to study cognitive processes and neural functioning. The morning session is designed to be accessible even to those with no background on the technique, while also providing a good refresher on basic principles for those who have some prior experience. The first part of the morning will cover the physiology of the signal and technical considerations for recording it. The second part of the morning will provide a general tutorial on how to design ERP experiments, measure ERPs, and interpret them. The afternoon session is designed for those who have attended the morning session or already have some background. Prof Federmeier will help you develop an “ERP toolkit”, go over well-established ERP components across a variety of domains and show you how they can be used to answer questions across the full spectrum of cognitive psychology.
Room 5602 Beckman Institute
November 3, 2017
Taught by Prof. Kara Federmeier
Registration deadline: Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Register at https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/5874832
CHART Symposium | REGISTER NOW
The mission of the CHART Program is to facilitate successful aging through fundamental research; advanced technology development; education of researchers, technology developers, healthcare professionals; guidance for policy decision-making; and translation of these efforts into products and systems to improve the lives of older adults. The goal of the symposium is to provide opportunities for interactions and a forum for collaboration planning. It will be held at the I Hotel on November 6, 2017, and the deadline for registration is October 26, 2017. Visit this page to register.
Brain Oscillations Symposium
Held on November 6, 2017, the Brain Oscillations Symposium will bring together researchers from the University of Illinois and University of Birmingham, England, that have interests in the role that oscillatory rhythms play in healthy cognition and abnormal brain function. Furthermore, both institutions have unparalleled strengths in combining methods to investigate brain rhythms and their relation to large-scale network activity and connectivity with the use of EEG, MEG, concurrent EEG-fMRI, concurrent EEG-EROS, and lesion-based neuropsychology. Registration deadline: October 30, 2017.
Neuroscience Program Seminars | MARK YOUR CALENDAR
This year’s Neuroscience Program seminar series kicked off in September, and continues throughout the semester. November seminar speakers include:
Todd Streelman 11/7/2017 Castles made of sand: the genetic basis of bower building in cichlid fishes
No Seminar 11/14/2017 SfN Annual Meeting
No Seminar 11/21/2017 Fall Break
Maxwell Heiman 11/28/2017 Discovering genes that control neuronal shape
Also keep your calendar free on October 31, 2017, 4 p.m. as the Neuroscience Program hosts its annual SfN Night Pre-Poster Night. Here, students will 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.
IMPORTANT DATES AND DEADLINES
- CHART Registration: October 26, 2017
- EEG/ERP Registration: October 27, 2017
- Brain Oscillations Registration: October 30, 2017
- Optical Imaging Workshop: November 3, 2017
- Devices RFI: December 1, 2017
- Neuroscience Prize: December 15, 2017
If you have something to share with the neuroscience community at Illinois, contact Gillian Snyder, IHSI research development manager in CTN, at (217) 300-6709 or firstname.lastname@example.org.