Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Enhancing Developmental Biology Research at Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) Eligible Institutions (R15)

Notice Number: NOT-HD-19-036

Key Dates
Release Date: November 05, 2019
First Available Due Date:February 25, 2020
Expiration Date: October 26, 2022

Related Announcements
PAR-18-714  Academic Research Enhancement Award for Undergraduate-Focused Institutions (R15, Clinical Not Allowed)

Issued by
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)


This Notice of Scientific Interest (NOSI) encourages grant applications to strengthen the developmental biology research environment at educational institutions that do not receive substantial funding from the NIH, with an emphasis on providing biomedical research experiences primarily to undergraduate students through exposure to and participation in research projects designed to study fundamental processes underlying normal development. In addition, this NOSI attempts to foster the development of novel or underutilized experimental model systems suitable for contributing significantly to our understanding of developmental mechanisms.


There is a need to increase support for developmental biology research at educational institutions primarily focused on undergraduate education. Concern is that students from such institutions tend not to be exposed to scientists conducting developmental biology research. There is evidence that participation of undergraduate students in research fosters their later participation in graduate studies. It follows, therefore, that expanding the number of undergraduates exposed to developmental biology ultimately will provide a larger pool of researchers motivated to study the fundamental processes underlying normal development.

There is also a need to explore new animal models to enhance our understanding of embryonic development and the genetic variations that lead to evolution. The availability of a diversity of experimental models allows investigators to choose the most advantageous system in which to address important experimental questions. Because of the conservation of developmental processes across animal phyla, results from these model systems can readily be used to advance our understanding of human embryonic development. The NIH has long been supportive of enlarging our armamentarium of biomedical model systems and recognizes that often new models first appear in use at small institutions, where funds are limited and best used to support models that require low upkeep. Since AREA awards are limited in dollar amount, these relatively small awards are well-suited to applications using inexpensive, low-upkeep animal model systems. The development of underutilized and/or novel experimental model systems suitable for contributing significantly to our understanding of developmental mechanisms, while not required, is encouraged by this NOSI.

Research Objectives

This NOSI is intended to support scientifically meritorious research projects important to NICHD's mission, strengthen the scientific environment at recipient schools, and foster positive research experiences for undergraduate students, the goal of which is to expose next generation scientists to the exciting field of developmental biology.

In addition to supporting research aimed at understanding normal embryonic development, this NOSI encourages research on developmental defects of generalized body patterning and localized dysmorphic anomalies across a variety of organ systems, such as the nervous, musculo-skeletal, gut, cardiac, limb, and lymphatic that may lead to clinically significant, congenital structural malformations. The area of structural birth defects research is a direct offshoot of this arm of developmental biology.

Potential Research Areas

Research proposals responsive to this NOSI will include small scale, new or renewal projects investigating questions of importance to developmental biology such as, but not limited to:

  • Projects to elucidate the cellular, molecular, and physical mechanisms that direct the formation of embryonic body plan of multicellular organisms
  • Projects to determine the mechanisms underlying the normal development of organ primordia against which aberrations of these processes can be better understood
  • Projects to better understand mechanisms controlling the patterning of a variety of organ systems, such as the nervous, musculo-skeletal, gut, cardiac, limb, lymphatic etc.
  • Projects to identify and characterize genes, genetic networks, and epigenetic factors that control developmental processes
  • Projects to elucidate metabolomics of normal and abnormal embryonic development
  • Projects to assess adverse genetic and/or environmental influences on development and to elucidate mechanisms by which developmental aberrations are produced
  • Projects aimed at identifying developmental mechanisms and pathways reactivated during tissue regeneration and comparative analyses of tissue regeneration in closely related model organisms
  • Projects proposing in vivo studies of endogenous stem cells in animal models to better understand how stem cells function within developing tissues during normal and abnormal embryonic development
  • Testing and refinement of research techniques or animal model systems applicable to developmental biology
  • Utilizing novel or underutilized experimental systems are encouraged but not required.

Application and Submission Information

This notice applies to due dates on or after February 25, 2020 and subsequent receipt dates through October 26, 2022  .

Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcement through the expiration date of this notice.

  • PAR-18-714 Academic Research Enhancement Award for Undergraduate-Focused Institutions (R15, Clinical Not Allowed)

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:

  • For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-HD-19-036” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will be not be considered for the NOSI initiative.


Please direct all inquiries to the Scientific/Research, Peer Review, and Financial/Grants Management contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements.

Scientific/Research Contact(s)


Mahua Mukhopadhyay, PhD
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human development (NICHD)
Telephone: 301-435-6886