Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)
Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH)

Funding Opportunity Title

BRAIN Initiative:  Theories, Models and Methods for Analysis of Complex Data from the Brain (R01)

Activity Code

R01 Research Project Grant

Announcement Type

New

Related Notices
  • December 6, 2016 - Notice to Encourage Eligible NIH BRAIN Initiative Awardees to Apply for Administrative Supplements to Promote Diversity, PA-16-288 . See Notice NOT-MH-17-008.
  • November 18, 2016 - Notice to Encourage Eligible NIMH BRAIN Initiative Awardees to Apply to PA-16-288. See Notice NOT-MH-17-004.
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

RFA-EB-15-006

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.853; 93.865; 93.866; 93.286; 93.867; 93.173; 93.273; 93.279; 93.242; 93.213; 93.313

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This FOA solicits new theories, computational models, and statistical methods to derive understanding of brain function from complex neuroscience data.  Approaches could include the creation of new theories, ideas, and conceptual frameworks to organize/unify data and infer general principles of brain function; new computational models to develop testable hypotheses and design/drive experiments; and new mathematical and statistical methods to support or refute a stated hypothesis about brain function, and/or assist in detecting features in complex brain data.  It is expected that the approaches developed under this FOA will be made widely available to the neuroscience research community for their use and modification. 

Key Dates
Posted Date

July 31, 2015

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

September 21, 2015

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

September 21, 2015

Application Due Date(s)

October 21, 2015, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on this date.  No late applications will be accepted for this Funding Opportunity Announcement.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Scientific Merit Review

February 2016

Advisory Council Review

May 2016

Earliest Start Date

July 2016

Expiration Date

October 22, 2015

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

Background

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) InitiativeSM 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, shows 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, cure, and even 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 BRAIN Initiative FOAs 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 (MCWG, Roster).  Information about meetings of the MCWG are available at http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/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 support those research efforts through applications received via parent announcements as well as through specific FOAs. Potential applicants to this FOA are strongly encouraged to contact the Scientific/Research Contact if they have any questions about the best funding opportunity announcement for their research.

To enable 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 science, and NIH welcomes applications from investigators in these disciplines.

NIH encourages BRAIN Initiative applications from groups that 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, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Research Objectives

The broad goal of The BRAIN InitiativeSM is to understand the circuits and patterns of neural activity that give rise to mental experience and behavior. As stated in the BRAIN 2025 Report (II.5), “Theory, Modeling, and Statistics Will Be Essential to Understanding the Brain.” As advances in neurotechnologies are producing large, complex data sets at an unprecedented rate, novel theoretical and analytical approaches are needed to realize the potential of these rich datasets. Understanding neural circuitry requires an understanding of the algorithms and mechanisms that govern information processing within a circuit and between interacting circuits in the brain as a whole.  Informed by rich observations, formalized theoretical frameworks allow researchers to infer general principles of brain function and the algorithms underlying functioning neural circuitry. Theory coupled with mathematical modeling and simulation approaches are needed to identify gaps in knowledge, to drive the systematic collection of the future data (e.g. so that the collected data specifically address the model parameters), and to formulate testable hypotheses of neural circuit mechanisms and how they govern behavioral and cognitive processes. Statistical approaches are needed to conduct formal inference to support or refute a stated theory or hypothesis. Finally, new data analysis methods are needed to detect features in complex data, often spanning multiple modalities and scales, to reveal underlying mechanisms of brain function.

The following reports have inspired the ideas of this FOA (but note that they do not represent or replace the specific goals of the FOA):

http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/2025/BRAIN2025.pdf
https://www.simonsfoundation.org/life-sciences/simons-collaboration-on-the-global-brain/, http://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/StatisticsBRAIN_April2014.pdf, https://www.imagwiki.nibib.nih.gov/sites/default/files/ComputationalmodelingforUSBRAINinitiative_2.pdf

This FOA is designed to solicit new theories, ideas and conceptual frameworks; computational models; and mathematical and statistical methods for driving experimental data collection, and analyzing complex data from the nervous system. It is expected that this next generation of analytical tools will be developed such that the wider neuroscience research community can easily share and use them. 

Specific topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

Theories, ideas and conceptual frameworks

  • Theoretical insights into how circuit dynamics depend on the properties of single neurons and their connections. Identify conditions for which insights from small circuits scale to larger circuits. Determine which general rules of circuit function depend on specific biological details of neuronal, non-neuronal and synapse function.
  • Theories of how information is encoded in the chemical and electrical activity of neurons to implicate behavior in both short and longer time scales.
  • Theories of how ensembles of activity can produce collective state conditions and processes with emergent properties beyond the individual units of activity.
  • Theories of how ongoing ensemble activity carries out effortful, deliberate cognitive processes requiring multiple or iterative steps, such as mental imagery, mental spatial navigation, mathematical processing, reasoning, or other cognitive abilities that are specially advanced in humans.
  • Theories of how interactions within and between large neural systems and brain areas—encompassing inputs from multiple sensory systems, internal states, memories, goals, constraints, and preferences—drive behavior in humans and animals, including specialized animal models.

Models and the associated statistical, analytical and numerical methods to integrate information across large temporal and spatial scales in the nervous system. 

  • Models and methods that integrate knowledge across multiple levels - connecting cellular properties with anatomical constraints, physiology, and behavior; linking mechanisms of neural activity with biophysical mechanisms; bridging mesoscale neural circuits with macroscale neural populations.
  • Models of collective neuronal activity on spatial scales that span individual synapses, neurons, circuits, networks and systems; developing theories of dynamical activity that span timescales of synapses, action potentials, network activity (including attractors and persistent activity) and internal circuit states (including neuropeptides and neuromodulatory systems).
  • Formal statistical inference frameworks to conduct network connectivity and causal-inference analyses from different types of neuroscience data such as fMRI, EEG, LFP and multi-site single neuron recordings.
  • Uncertainty quantification of the data, parameters and outcomes of predictive multiscale models of the brain, e.g. as a result of sparse data and biological variation across subjects.
  • New, interoperable simulation methods for multiscale models; e.g. to couple subcellular to the neuronal networks, to full-brain model scales.

New methods for complex data analysis

  • Methods to extract fundamental features from large nonlinear, spatio-temporal data sets, including real-time data analysis, e.g. from physiological, behavioral and imaging data.
  • Novel implementations of dynamic versions of principal component analysis, including novel implementations of independent component analysis, graphical models and compressed sensing that may be used to dynamically track structure in continuous data, point process data, and combinations of the two.
  • Tools to address data dimensionality – correlating lower dimension neural activity among subsets of strategically sampled neuronal populations; analyzing higher dimension data resulting from increased behavioral and stimulus complexity.
  • Data fusion and data assimilation methods to combine heterogeneous data and link sparse data with mechanisms.

Responsiveness Criteria

  • Database curation, annotation and development is not be responsive to this FOA.  
  • Projects to develop or improve computational infrastructure are not be responsive to this FOA
  • Projects to develop theories and models that do not explicitly state how the theories and models proposed are informed by the underlying neurobiology will be considered non-responsive.

Applications deemed to be non-responsive will not proceed to review.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The NIH BRAIN initiative intends to fund an estimate of 15 to 20 awards, corresponding to a total of up to

$6 million for fiscal year 2016.

Award Budget

Application budgets not limited, but are expected to range between $150,000 to $250,000 direct costs per year.  Investigators are expected to request a budget that is required to accomplish the proposed work.

Award Project Period

Awards are for three years of support.

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

    • Hispanic-serving Institutions
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
    • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
    • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
    • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)

Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government - including the NIH Intramural Program
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations
  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions)
Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).  
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Letter of Intent

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

The letter of intent should be sent to:

Dr. Grace C.Y. Peng, PhD
Telephone: 301-451-4778
Fax: 301-480-1614
Email: BRAINTheoriesFOA@mail.nih.gov

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

R&R or Modular Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions: 

Research Strategy: It is expected that projects will require a collaboration of theorists, modelers, data scientists, experimentalists and end users to develop new analytical tools (including theoretical frameworks, modeling platforms and analysis algorithms) for understanding specific challenges and problems. For each discipline, the roles of each expert should be clearly delineated. 

Explicit integration into experimental pipelines is not required and the FOA is not intended to fund experimental data collection.  Collaboration with experimentalists, however, is strongly encouraged, and it is expected that the end product will strongly inform experimental paradigms and drive future data collection. 

All applicants are strongly encouraged to outline strategies and metrics for the collaborating end user(s) to evaluate the credibility of the proposed theories, models, and methods; and how these analytical tools will address the question(s) of interest within the intended domain. The strategies and metrics could include, but are not restricted to: comparing proposed theories with other existing theories; performing verification, validation, uncertainty quantification, sensitivity analysis, and documenting limitations of the proposed models and methods.  Under circumstances where it may be impractical to perform verification, validation, uncertainty quantification and/or sensitivity analysis of the proposed analytical tools, applicants are encouraged to substantiate: (1) why it is impractical; and (2) where appropriate, propose alternative methods and metrics that can help build confidence in the analytical tool, and their predictive capabilities for the intended domain of use.

Applicants should provide a timeline and personnel effort needed for end user evaluation.

The end deliverables for the proposed theories, models or methods should be clearly defined and quantifiable. 

Applicants should describe the source of the existing data used (e.g. from other investigators, PhysioNet.org, Datadryad.org, CRCNS.org, NIF, NITRC, IEEG, etc.) to develop the proposed analytical tool.

Applicants should explicitly describe the use case for their proposed analytical tool, and describe how their tools can be generalized to other problems in the brain. The proposed activity should have a clear statement of how their tools can be widely used by the neuroscience community, and can influence fundamental approaches to understanding neuroscience data.  This statement should  clearly articulate the specific problem that is being addressed and will allow the success of the activity to be measured.

Projects that develop new theories should be based on a rich set of observations, and allow emerging ideas to be infused and quantitatively tested.

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modification:

All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should address a plan for sharing the analytical tools (e.g. theories, models and methods) produced from the proposed project.  The plans may include policies for access and sharing; including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements. In the body of the text, the section should begin with a heading indicating “Tool Sharing Plan”. Tool Sharing Plans should provide details for the tool components or modules, tool parameters and associated datasets. The plan should include the minimum requirements for tool documentation, tool building, tool validation and tool reproducibility. Applicants are also expected to include plans to link proposed tools with other relevant tools. Any software associated with proposed tools are expected to also be addressed in the Software Sharing Plan (below). Applicants are strongly encouraged to make their analytical tools electronically available in synchrony with paper publication.

  • Applications that develop software to instantiate the proposed mathematical or statistical theories, models and methods should address a plan for sharing software. In the body of the text, the section should begin with a heading indicating “Software Sharing Plan”.  There is no prescribed single license for software produced through grants responding to this announcement.  This FOA, however, includes goals for software dissemination, and reviewers will be instructed to evaluate dissemination plans relative to these goals:
    • The software should be freely available to biomedical, biological, behavioral, environmental, and clinical researchers and educators in the non-profit sector, such as institutions of education, research institutions, and government laboratories.
    • The terms of software availability should permit the commercialization of enhanced or customized versions of the software, or incorporation of the software or pieces of it into other software packages.
    • To preserve utility to the community, the software should be transferable such that another individual or team can reproduce the analytical tool and continue development in the event that the original investigators are unwilling or unable to do so.
    • The terms of software availability should include the ability of researchers to modify the source code and to share modifications with other colleagues. An applicant should take responsibility for creating the original and subsequent official versions of a piece of software, and should provide a plan to manage the dissemination or adoption of improvements or customizations of that software by others. This plan should include a method to distribute other user's contributions such as extensions, compatible modules, or plug-ins.

Appendix:  Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Planned Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Planned Enrollment Reports as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

PHS 398 Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Foreign Institutions

Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must follow policies described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, and procedures for foreign institutions described throughout the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

3. Submission Dates and Times

See Part I. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirements for obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number and for completing and maintaining an active System for Award Management (SAM) registration. Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.  

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review and responsiveness by components of participating organizations, NIH. Applications that are incomplete, non-compliant and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed.

Applications Involving the NIH Intramural Research Program

The requests by NIH intramural scientists will be limited to the incremental costs required for participation.   As such, these requests will not include any salary and related fringe benefits for career, career conditional or other Federal employees (civilian or uniformed service) with permanent appointments under existing position ceilings or any costs related to administrative or facilities support (equivalent to Facilities and Administrative or F&A costs).  These costs may include salary for staff to be specifically hired under a temporary appointment for the project, consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel, and other items typically listed under Other Expenses.  Applicants should indicate the number of person-months devoted to the project, even if no funds are requested for salary and fringe benefits. 

If selected, appropriate funding will be provided by the NIH Intramural Program.  NIH intramural scientists will participate in this program as PDs/PIs in accord with the Terms and Conditions provided in this FOA.  Intellectual property will be managed in accord with established policy of the NIH in compliance with Executive Order 10096, as amended, 45 CFR Part 7; patent rights for inventions developed in NIH facilities are NIH property unless NIH waives its rights. 

Should an extramural application include the collaboration with an intramural scientist, no funds for the support of the intramural scientist may be requested in the application.  The intramural scientist may submit a separate request for intramural funding as described above.

Prior Consultation with Scientific/Research Staff

Consultation with relevant Scientific/Research staff is strongly encouraged, not later than the Letter of Intent due date. This is not the same as the Letter of Intent, and should be included as a separate communication to the Scientific/Research Contacts, see Section VII.  If requested by the applicants, staff can advise whether the proposed project meets the goals of this FOA and the mission of the BRAIN initiative, and discuss responsiveness questions.  Staff will not evaluate the technical and scientific merit of the proposed project; technical and scientific merit will be determined during peer review using the review criteria indicated in this FOA. During the consultation phase, if the proposed project does not meet the programmatic needs of this FOA, applicants will be strongly encouraged to consider other Funding Opportunities.  

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

For this particular announcement, note the following:

This FOA promotes the collaboration of theorists, modelers, data scientists, experimentalists and end users to develop new analytical tools (including theoretical frameworks, modeling platforms and analysis algorithms) for understanding specific challenges and problems. A sound rationale should be provided as to why the approach and the research team are the most appropriate, and likely to generate an exceptionally high impact if successful. Although reviewers will consider feasibility, they will be instructed to not penalize unavoidable risks that are intrinsic to new and innovative approaches, especially from fields that traditionally fall outside the NIH community.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?

To what degree will the proposed analytical tools (including theoretical frameworks, modeling platforms and analysis algorithms) be widely used in the neuroscience community, and/or will they have a strong influence on fundamental approaches to understanding neuroscience data?   

Investigator(s)

Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?

To what degree have the roles of the collaborating end users been described?  To what degree is there an appropriate effort to collaborate with theorists, modelers, data scientists, experimentalists and end users for developing tools for the wider community, and are the roles of each expert clearly delineated?  Will the end user contributions to the project add substantive value to the project deliverables?  To what extent will the project inform experimental paradigms and drive future data collection?   

Innovation

Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?   

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed? 

To what degree does the application propose adequate metrics and strategies for building confidence in the analytical tool, and their predictive capabilities for the intended domain of use?  To what degree are the end deliverables clearly defined and/or quantifiable; are the source data for analysis appropriate to the project and readily available for replication studies; and are the use cases for the proposed tools well described and appropriately understood in terms of end user needs? 

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?  

Environment

Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?   

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

Biohazards

Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Resubmissions

Not Applicable

Renewals

Not Applicable

Revisions

Not Applicable

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Reviewers will assess whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions that exist in other countries and either are not readily available in the United States or augment existing U.S. resources.

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan; 2) Sharing Model Organisms; and 3) Genomic Data Sharing Plan.

Does the Tool Sharing Plan include appropriate detail on modules, parameters and datasets?  Does the plan adequately address documentation, validation and tool reproducibility?   Does the Software Sharing Plan appropriately address goals for dissemination, free availability for non-profit use and modification, reproducibility and continued development by other individuals or groups, and appropriate customization and/or commercialization?    

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by CSR, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Appeals of initial peer review will not be accepted for applications submitted in response to this FOA.

Applications will be assigned to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.  This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact CenterTelephone: 800-518-4726
Web ticketing system: https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-710-0267

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Grace C.Y. Peng, PhD
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Email: BRAINTheoriesFOA@mail.nih.gov

James Gnadt, PhD
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Email: BRAINTheoriesFOA@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Robert Elliott, PhD
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
Telephone: 301-435-3009
Email: elliotro@csr.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Ruthann Rand
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Telephone: 301-496-8521
Email: randrudy@mail.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Part 75.

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