Request for Information (RFI): Emerging Capabilities for Non-Invasive Imaging of Brain Structure and Function (Neuroscience Blueprint)

Notice Number: NOT-AG-08-005 - (See Notice NOT-AG-08-007 Notice of Deadline Extension for Request for Information)

Key Dates
Release Date: June 6, 2008

Issued by
NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research (
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), (
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), (
National Eye Institute (NEI), (
National Institute on Aging (NIA), (
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), (
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), (
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), (
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), (
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), (
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), (
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), (
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), (
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), (
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), (
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), (


This is a time-sensitive RFI directed toward determining how best to accelerate research in non-invasive imaging of human brain structure and function.  Responses to this RFI should be pertinent to the interests of one or more of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Institutes listed above. Comments pertaining to emerging capabilities and technologies related to human brain imaging, from molecular imaging to neural connectivity imaging, are encouraged.

Neuroscience research is a unifying theme across many NIH Institutes and Centers. The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research was launched in 2004 with 16 participating Institutes, Centers, and Offices to provide a framework for coordinating research, and for developing tools and resources which are broadly useful for advancing neuroscience research ( To this end, the NIH is generating a series of focused initiatives designed to catalyze neuroscience research. In fiscal years 2005 and 2006, the Blueprint supported the creation and distribution of resources that are of broad utility to the entire neuroscience community. In fiscal years 2007-2009 the NIH Blueprint is addressing three specific, cross-cutting themes: neurodegeneration, neurodevelopment, and neuroplasticity, respectively. The NIH Blueprint is now seeking input on new scientific opportunities in non-invasive imaging of human brain structure and function.

NIH Blueprint Resources Currently Available to the Neuroscience Community

The goal of the NIH Blueprint is to create research tools, resources and infrastructure that will better serve the neuroscience community.  This is accomplished by pooling resources and expertise, and by taking advantage of economies of scale, to confront challenges too large for any single NIH Institute or Center.  The NIH Blueprint is currently in its fourth year and a variety of tools and resources are becoming available to the neuroscience community through its activities.   The following websites provide overviews of the NIH Blueprint initiatives already underway, many of which are useful to researchers studying brain function using imaging technologies:

Information Requested

Neuroimaging has proved to be a useful tool in neuroscience research and of great benefit in studying the human brain in healthy and diseased states.  Non-invasive brain imaging offers a unique opportunity to peer into the inner workings of the brain to monitor normal and abnormal changes in structure and function, and to diagnose human brain disorders and monitor response to therapy.  Studies on brain imaging are of interest to the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint.  Imaging of brain can encompass multiple levels of analysis, e.g. from molecules to cell activity to neural connections, using multi-modality approaches with the ultimate goal of non-invasive imaging of human brain structure and function.  The goal of this RFI is to identify brain imaging capabilities that are in the early phase of development, or do not yet exist but are on the horizon, which could significantly advance our understanding of human brain structure and function.  Comments pertaining to desired new capabilities and innovative technologies for non-invasive human brain imaging, from molecular imaging to neural connectivity imaging, are encouraged. To assist in identifying scientific opportunities in new approaches to enhance and extend the capabilities of non-invasive human brain imaging, the participating NIH Blueprint Institutes and Centers request responses to the questions below:

  1. What new imaging capabilities would most significantly advance our understanding of brain structure and function?
  2. What emerging technologies are poised for rapid advancement or are on the horizon that could enhance non-invasive imaging of brain at various levels of analysis, e.g. from molecular to neural connectivity?
  3. Are there emerging non-invasive brain imaging methods that would enable increased spatial and temporal resolution, and/or provide quantitative measures of brain structure and function?
  4. Are there specific scientific impediments to research on non-invasive imaging of human brain structure and function, particularly at different levels of analysis?  If so, what tools and resources are needed to overcome these impediments?


The NIH Blueprint seeks input on new approaches to non-invasive imaging of brain structure and function, particularly molecular imaging and neural connectivity imaging.  The Blueprint represents a unique means to enhance cooperative activities among the sixteen NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices that support research on the nervous system. To that end, the Blueprint encourages visionary ideas that will dramatically stimulate the field of neuroscience.

This RFI shall not be construed as a solicitation for applications or as an obligation on the part of the government. The government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted. Responders should be aware that the information provided will be analyzed and may be used to develop future funding opportunity announcements.  The government cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the information provided

Please send responses to no later than August 1, 2008 - (New Date September 1, 2008 per NOT-AG-08-007)


Specific questions about this Notice may be directed to:  

Bradley C. Wise, Ph.D.
Director, Fundamental Neuroscience Program
Division of Neuroscience
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 350, MSC 9205
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-9205
Phone: 301-496-9350
Fax: 301-496-1494

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