National Eye Institute (NEI)
The NEI intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Request for Applications (RFA) to solicit applications for research that will cooperatively and comprehensively dissect ocular surface innervation – from corneal sensation to pain circuits and tearing reflexes. This RFA aims to explore this system at three levels of analysis: morphologic, molecular, and functional. Successful projects will incorporate at least two of these three levels of analysis, and ideally all three. The premise of this RFA is that such basic biology knowledge will facilitate deeper understanding of the resultant pathobiology including neuropathic ocular pain and dry eye disease.
This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects.
The FOA is expected to be published in February 2021 with an expected application due date in June 2021.
This FOA will utilize the U01 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.
In order to capitalize on research opportunities at the front of the eye, NEI has launched the Anterior Segment Initiative (ASI). As part of this Initiative, a Request for Information (RFI) was issued under NOT-EY-20-001 with the aim of seeking input from the scientific community and the public to help identify the major gaps in knowledge and the research opportunities related to the anterior segment of the eye. NEI received a robust response. Among the different areas of need identified was the importance of tackling the clinically significant problems of ocular pain and dry eye disease. Therefore, the objective of this planned RFA is to comprehensively dissect and integrate the pain and tearing pathways at the morphologic, molecular, and functional levels. It also aims to support research that will provide a foundation for understanding the role of corneal surface sensation in the development of post-operative corneal surgery pain (e.g. LASIK), migraine, photophobia, among other related conditions. Finally, very little is known about the autonomic innervation of the corneal surface which may in turn be key to understanding the inflammatory process seen in ocular surface disease including dry eye disease. In sum, the objective of this RFA covers the umbrella of ocular surface innervation as it relates to a variety of functions.
This Notice strongly encourages the establishment of research teams that are multidisciplinary with the complementary expertise required for anatomical, molecular and functional analysis. The teams funded will convene and collaborate as a Consortium and are expected to share data and resources consistent with achieving the overall goals of this RFA and the ASI initiative. Sharing data with the broader scientific community after the completion of the project is also expected.
The areas of research encouraged in this initiative include:
The formation of collaboratory teams with complementary expertise for the various levels of analysis of ocular sensation, pain, and tearing.
Responsive applications must include two of the three themes below. A non-exhaustive list of areas of research interest within each theme are provided.
APPLICATIONS ARE NOT BEING SOLICITED AT THIS TIME.
Applications are not being solicited at this time.
Please direct all inquiries to:
Houmam Araj, PhD
National Eye Institute(NEI)