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 Mental Health (NIMH)
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)
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 Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

Funding Opportunity Title

BRAIN Initiative: Foundations of Non-Invasive Functional Human Brain Imaging and Recording - Bridging Scales and Modalities (R01)

Activity Code

R01 Research Project Grant

Announcement Type

New

Related Notices

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

RFA-MH-16-750

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

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

93.242,  93.213, 93.867, 93.866, 93.273, 93.286, 93.865, 93.279, 93.173, 93.853  

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA), in support of the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, aims to support transformative discoveries that will lead to breakthroughs in understanding human brain function. Guided by the long-term scientific plan, “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision,” this FOA specifically seeks to support efforts that will revolutionize our understanding of the biological activity underlying, and bioinformatic content of, data collected using contemporary non-invasive functional brain imaging techniques. The hope is that these transformative discoveries will lead to breakthroughs in understanding the dynamic activity of the human brain.    

Key Dates
Posted Date

September 25, 2015

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

December 6, 2015

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

December 6, 2015

Application Due Date(s)

January 13, 2016, 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 the 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

April 2016

Advisory Council Review

August 2016

Earliest Start Date

September 1, 2016

Expiration Date

New Date January 14, 2016 per issuance of NOT-MH-16-003. (Original Expiration Date: January 7, 2016)

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

The BRAIN Initiative: The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is a Presidential initiative 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 FOA and other FOAs issued in Fiscal Year 2015 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, which held its first two meetings in 201 4 and 2015.

In addition to the 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 investigator-initiated applications as well as through specific FOAs. Potential applicants to this FOA are strongly encouraged to contact Scientific/Research Contacts if they have any questions about the best FOA for their research.

To enable rapid progress in the 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 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.

The BRAIN Initiative will require a high level of coordination and sharing between investigators. While this FOA does not use a cooperative agreement mechanism, it is expected that BRAIN Initiative awardees will cooperate and coordinate their activities after awards are made by participating in Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) meetings and in other activities.

This FOA is related to the Recommendations in Section III.2 and 6 of the Final Report (http://www.nih.gov/science/brain/2025/index.htm) of the BRAIN working group. Specifically, this FOA solicits applications that will address the recommendations on “Maps at Multiple Scales” and “Advancing Human Neuroscience” (Section III, Part 2 and 6) from “Section III> Implementation: Goals, Deliverables, Timelines and Costs” of the Final Report.

Research Objectives

As stated in the BRAIN 2025 report, “The last twenty years have seen explosive growth in the development and use of noninvasive brain mapping methods, predominantly MRI, complemented by MEG and electroencephalography (EEG), to investigate the human brain under normal and pathological conditions, and across the human lifespan.” Human neuroimaging methods and technology have made significant advances in elucidating the macroscopic structural and functional organization of the human brain.  At the same time animal research, aided by advances in optical imaging and other techniques, has allowed detailed study of the brain anatomy and physiology at the microscopic scale of brain function.  The overarching research objective of this FOA is to advance our ability to accurately and precisely infer these microscopic details of underlying anatomy and physiology in the human brain from the more limited data available from noninvasive functional brain mapping methods. At present, relatively little is understood of the fundamental relationships between brain imaging signals at macroscopic levels and the underlying circuits and cellular activity at more fine-grained scales. What is needed is to integrate the information from the signals collected using non-invasive imaging and recording techniques with studies aimed at better understanding the cellular- and circuit-bases of these signals. Such integrative, multidisciplinary efforts would revolutionize our understanding of the biological and bioinformatic content of data collected from non-invasive human brain imaging and functional evaluation techniques. This knowledge could lead to transformative breakthroughs in understanding dynamic functions of the human brain under both normal and pathological conditions.

Thus, the goal of this FOA is to improve our understanding of the dynamic function of the human brain using non-invasive imaging techniques that are suited to the general human population. Research proposed in response to this FOA should focus on determining what the signals detected with non-invasive neuroimaging and functional evaluation techniques reveal about the underlying neural circuitry, with an emphasis on determining how the acquired signal at one level informs our understanding of activity at other levels. A key to achieving these goals will be bridging microscopic and macroscopic scales across temporal and spatial domains. This approach will yield a deeper understanding of how electrical and chemical activity in different populations of neurons and glia are represented in macroscopic-level measurements of brain structure and function. The knowledge gained could potentially enable non-invasive measurements of circuit and network interactions at multiple spatial and temporal scales.

Integrative Approaches

Transformative approaches are needed that will enable the testing and validation of estimation of anatomy and physiology across scales in both time and space. These approaches could include: (a) combining current and emerging neural recording and neuromodulation techniques and methods (leveraging theoretical models, simulations, and sophisticated quantitative analyses) to deconstruct signals from non-invasive neuroimaging and neurophysiological recording; (b) using both correlations and perturbations of micro- or meso-level activity to determine relationships with macro-level activity to reveal and define the principles by which signals decay or amplify across scales; and (c) innovative design of critical experiments to validate and test emerging theories and ideas.

Making progress in overcoming obstacles in one discipline often requires research approaches from another discipline. Achieving the goals of this FOA will likely require collaborative efforts between imaging scientists, physicists, mathematicians, computational and informatic theorists, engineers, biologists, neuroscientists, clinical scientists, and behavioral scientists. If necessary to achieve the goals, investigators are strongly encouraged to form teams to work across the translational spectrum, including pre-clinical studies in small and large animal species. Partnerships with industry are also encouraged. It is anticipated that progress on specific key questions will be enhanced by interdisciplinary collaborations. This FOA is designed to provide resources to leverage transformative, interdisciplinary approaches to human brain imaging and functional evaluation techniques.

Examples of potential studies responsive to this FOA include:

  • Applications that significantly advance our understanding of the structure-function relationship of defined units in the brain using non-invasive imaging and functional evaluation techniques, high-density recording, and behavioral manipulations. Studies may include investigations aimed at understanding how recorded signals map onto neural code in the context of specific behaviors.
  • Integrative, multimodal approaches combining non-invasive brain stimulation and neuromodulation techniques with functional neuroimaging (e.g. simultaneous transcranial magnetic stimulation and fMRI, focused ultrasound and other neuroimaging and recording techniques) to elucidate functional networks through focal stimulation of cortical brain regions and monitoring of the distributed signals.
  • Manipulation of subcortical activity through neurons and circuits deep within the brain, and subsequent imaging of downstream effects on cortical dynamics or circuit function.
  • Use of integrated multimodal imaging approaches across structural levels to link neural circuit dynamics (e.g., oscillations) to structural or functional measurements in subcortical structures, and those to observations in the cortex.
Animal Model Inclusion

Recommendations from the BRAIN 2025 Report and the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group point to a need to focus on human neuroscience and non-invasive neurotechnologies. Yet, it is recognized that in order to truly understand the biological bases of the data collected from non-invasive human brain imaging and neuro-recording techniques, it may be necessary to use non-human species to directly perturb and then measure activity at the molecular, cellular, or circuit level.

Therefore, this FOA allows animal studies that are clearly justified as essential for understanding the cellular mechanisms of non-invasive neuroimaging and neuro-recording techniques. Studies that use animal models of diseases, ex vivo tissues, clinical specimens or patients that will not be applicable to or cannot be generalized to healthy human brain circuit and network interactions will be considered unresponsive. Such applicants should contact Scientific/Research Contacts to determine whether their application might be responsive to other NIH and BRAIN funding opportunities.

All potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the Scientific/Research Contacts listed below to discuss the alignment of their proposed work with the FOA goals.

Technical Assistance Phone Conference

A Technical Assistance phone conference will be held for potential applicants on Monday, December 7, 2015, at 1:00-2:00pm EST. NIH staff will be available to answer questions related to this FOA. To obtain call-in information, please email BRAIN-info-NIMH@mail.nih.gov at least 24 hours prior to the call and specify the FOA number in the subject line or in the body of the email.

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 number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

The issuing IC and partner components intend to commit an estimated total of $12M in FY2016 to fund 12-15 awards.

Award Budget

Application budgets are limited to $700,000 in direct costs in any project year, and need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.

Award Project Period

The scope of the proposed project should determine the project period. The maximum project period is 5 years 

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
  • 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:

NIMHReferral@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: The interdisciplinary teams supported through this FOA should focus on novel, transformative and integrative efforts that will revolutionize our understanding of the biological and bioinformatic content of data collected from non-invasive human brain imaging and functional evaluation techniques. Investigators should address the challenge of measuring dynamic neuronal activity across multiple scales in time and space. Applicants should include concrete plans for the determination of what the signals detected with non-invasive neuroimaging and functional evaluation techniques reveal about the underlying neural circuitry, in particular, with emphasis on understanding how the acquired signal at one level informs our understanding of activity at other levels. The focus should be on achieving a deeper understanding of how electrical and chemical activity in different populations of neurons and glia are represented in macroscopic-level measurements of human brain structure and function.

Applicants proposing animal research must provide clear rationale how the findings from the proposed studies will translate up the scale and lead to an improved understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying commonly measured human brain signals as observed through non-invasive neuroimaging and neuro-recording techniques. Studies that use animal models of diseases, ex vivo tissues, clinical specimens or patients that will not be applicable to or cannot be generalized to healthy human brain circuit and network interactions will be considered unresponsive and will not be reviewed.

Bridging Scales and Modalities: Investigators must provide a clear rationale and relationship linking the expected advances in the fundamental understanding of the measurements to the increased abilities to assess circuit and network interactions at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Further, the team should plan investigations that demonstrate these expanded abilities of the tools to bridge microscopic and macroscopic spatial scales, and the observable and actual physiologic temporal scales. A key focus will be on linking non-invasive measures of brain activity at multiple levels to learn about circuit function (e.g., How to interpret observable population-level activity in one area? What is the relationship to that in another area? How can we advance the understanding of the underlying mechanisms that bridge spatial and temporal scales, linking components and their interactions to behavior of healthy humans?).

Current State-of-the-Art Statement: Investigators must clearly state the specific goals of their application, to include defining the current state of the science/technology as a benchmark against which the proposed research will be measured. Critically, applicants must provide an assessment of how their application will advance beyond the state-of-the-art, with an emphasis on the current resolution/timing/performance limits they expect to understand/improve, and how the proposed studies will result in a transformative impact in our understanding of human brain function.

High-risk projects with limited preliminary results are welcome if they have suitable high impact. A sound rationale should be provided as to why the approach proposed is the most appropriate and likely to generate an exceptionally high impact if successful.

Timeline and Milestones: A timeline should be included as part of the Research Strategy and should include a distinct final section, entitled “Milestones”, that briefly proposes indicators of progress at critical junctures. These junctions include the translation from small animal research, if needed, to the demonstration of improved measurement/assessment of dynamic neuronal activity across structural levels in human or non-human primate brain. These should be tailored to the unique scope of each project and written concretely enough to evaluate what exactly will have been achieved during the course of the project. This should include the specific proof-of-concept test(s), if applicable, that will indicate how the proposed approaches will be tested and validated along with alternative strategies should an effort fail to perform as expected. Investigators should describe how results will be used to inform future phases of research and development and how our current state of brain imaging and neuro-recording techniques will be transformed by the findings from the proposed research.

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.

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.

In order to expedite review, applicants are requested to notify the NIMH Referral Office by email at nimhreferral@mail.nih.gov  when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application

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.

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? Will the overall goals of the research effort represent a significant step forward and will achieving the goals likely revolutionize our understanding of cellular mechanisms underlying commonly measured brain signals observed through non-invasive neuroimaging and neuro-recording techniques? How will the knowledge gained about the fundamental mechanisms of these non-invasive neurotechnologies be used to inform our understanding of circuit and network interactions at multiple spatial and temporal scales in ways that are currently unachievable using non-invasive approaches? Has the state of the art been accurately described? Will the proposed research lead to scientific breakthroughs in understanding dynamic functions of the human brain?

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? Does the application have highly skilled investigators in all areas of interdisciplinary science and engineering needed to advance the research? 

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? Does the proposed work address the existing challenge of understanding how the observed signals at the macro scale can provide information across physiologic spatial and temporal scales? Will the proposed work likely enable important scientific discovery related to dynamic human brain function? Is the proposed research potentially transformative either through the development of novel concepts, methods, and approaches that may be high-risk or through major advances in current approaches that break through technical barriers and will significantly improve current capabilities?

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?  Does the application propose interdisciplinary approaches to overcoming challenges of transformative integration of information across scales? Will the approaches outlined serve to improve our understanding of how electrical and chemical activity in different populations of neurons and glia are represented in macroscopic-level measurements of human brain structure and function? Does the research plan include approaches to demonstrate the improved ability for measuring dynamic brain function or bridging multiple spatial/temporal scales? Is the challenge of measuring dynamic neuronal activity across multiple scales in time and space addressed? Are there concrete plans for the determination of what the signals detected with non-invasive neuroimaging and functional evaluation techniques reveal about the underlying neural circuitry, in particular, with emphasis on understanding how the acquired signal at one level informs our understanding of activity at other levels? Are there a clear rationale and relationship linking the expected advances in the fundamental understanding of the measurements to the increased abilities to assess circuit and network interactions at multiple spatial and temporal scales? Are investigations planned that demonstrate these expanded abilities of the tools to bridge microscopic and macroscopic spatial scales, and the observable and actual physiologic temporal scales? Do the specific goals of the application include defining the current state of the science/technology as a benchmark against which the proposed research will be measured? Do the applicants provide an assessment of how their application will advance the field beyond the current state-of-the-art? If the project is high-risk with limited preliminary results, is a sound rationale provided as to why the approach proposed is the most appropriate and likely to generate an exceptionally high impact outcome if successful? Are the proposed milestones appropriate indicators of progress at critical junctions? 

If animal research is proposed, have the applicants provided a clear rationale for how the findings from the proposed studies will translate up the scale and lead to an improved understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying commonly measured human brain signals as observed through non-invasive neuroimaging and neuro-recording techniques?   

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? If the use of ex vivo tissues, clinical specimens or patients is proposed, will the research outcomes have clear relevance to the healthy brain, beyond the disease models and/or patient populations studied? Will the knowledge gained improve the understanding of cellular mechanisms of non-invasive brain imaging and recording techniques in a broader human population?

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.

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 National Institute of Mental Health, 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 on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines 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 appropriate National Advisory Council or Board. 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 Commons Help Desk (Questions regarding 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: 301-435-0714

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Jay Churchill, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone:  301-443-3621
Email:  churchillj@mail.nih.gov

Guoying Liu, Ph.D.
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Telephone:  301-594-5220
Email:  liug@mail.nih.gov  

Peer Review Contact(s)

David Armstrong, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-3534
Email: armstrda@mail.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Tamara Kees
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-8811
Email: tkees@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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