Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Gut-Microbiome-Brain Interactions and Mental Health (R21/R33)

Notice Number: NOT-MH-13-012

Key Dates

Release Date: January 24, 2013
Estimated Publication Date of Announcement: April 2013
First Estimated Application Due Date: October 10, 2013
Earliest Estimated Award Date: July 1, 2014
Earliest Estimated Start Date: July 1, 2014

Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to request applications for research to investigate mechanisms by which the gut microbiome modulates the development and function of brain circuits that subserve behavioral functions of direct relevance to the mission of the NIMH.

This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations (e.g., of microbiologists and neuroscientists) and responsive projects. 

The FOA is expected to be published in Spring 2013 with an expected application due date in Fall 2013.

This FOA will utilize the R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award mechanism. The R21 phase will support exploratory and feasibility studies. The R33 phase will support hypothesis-driven studies to investigate mechanisms. Transition from the R21 to the R33 phase is contingent upon successful completion of milestones proposed in the application.

Research Initiative Details

With this FOA, the NIMH encourages multidisciplinary teams of investigators to initiate hypothesis-driven research that will begin to investigate mechanisms by which gut microbiota may influence pre- and postnatal development as well as genes, signaling cascades, synaptic plasticity, and brain circuits that underlie behavioral functions of direct relevance to the NIMH. Because initial colonization of the gut by microbiota occurs early in life and may influence the subsequent development and modifiability of the central nervous system, developmental studies are of particular interest. The specific pathways and mechanisms underlying communication between the gut microbiome and the brain are poorly understood. Thus, studies designed to enhance understanding of mechanisms underlying gut microbiome-brain interactions and provide novel insights into brain function and behavior are also encouraged. Applicants may propose to use wild-type or gnotobiotic model organisms or human cohorts.



Inquiries regarding this Notice may be directed to:

Nancy L Desmond, PhD
Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7197, MSC 9645
Bethesda, MD 20892-9645
Telephone: 301-443-3107