Notice of Data Sharing Policy for the BRAIN Initiative

Notice Number: NOT-MH-19-010

Key Dates
Release Date:January 22, 2019

Related Announcements


Issued by
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)


The purpose of this notice is to inform prospective applicants and current awardees of a new policy concerning data collected with support from awards that are funded by the BRAIN Initiative. Specifically, this Notice clarifies the expectation that applicants to BRAIN Initiative funding opportunity announcements: 1) submit their data to one of the BRAIN data archives for sharing; 2) include specific required elements in the Resource Sharing Plan as further detailed below; and 3) include costs attributed to data preparation and submission to a data archive in grant applications.

BRAIN Initiative Overview

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative® 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, 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 Notice and related FOAs issued as part of the BRAIN initiative 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. Videocasts of the NIH BRAIN Multi-council Working Group are available at

To enable rapid 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 and information sciences.

BRAIN Initiative Data Sharing

The BRAIN 2025 report calls for establishing platforms for sharing data related to the BRAIN Initiative. In response, NIH has released RFAs related to data archives (RFA-MH-19-145 and RFA-MH-17-255), data standards (RFA-MH-19-146 and RFA-MH-17-256), and software to integrate and analyze data (RFA-MH-19-147 and RFA-MH-17-257). Each of those efforts is focused on data from a “sub-domain” which are usually defined by the data collection methodology.

Data archives that have been established include:

1) The Neuroscience Multi-omic Data Archive (, R24MH114788) to hold data from -omics experiments.

2) The Brain Image Library (, R24MH114793) to hold microscopy data.

3) Data Archive for the BRAIN Initiative (, R24MH114796) to hold data related to human electrophysiology experiments.

4) OpenNeuro (, R24MH117179) to hold magnetic resonance imaging data.

5) Block and Object Storage Service (, R24MH114785) to hold electron microscopy data.

A few additional data archives in distinct sub-domains are expected to be funded. The complete list of BRAIN Initiative infrastructure awards can be found here. The awardees for the RFAs listed above are creating the informatics infrastructure necessary for BRAIN Initiative awardees and others to share the data they are collecting with the research community.

For BRAIN Initiative applications (both new and resubmissions) submitted after March 1, 2020, applicants are required to share the data they collect using the BRAIN Initiative informatics infrastructure (both data archives and relevant data standards),consistent with authorities under the 21st Century Cures Act and these awards authorized under that Act. . BRAIN Initiative fellowship applications (using any of the F activity codes) are not required to share the data they are collecting, but they are encouraged to use the informatics infrastructure as part of their training activities.

The general expectation is that data from BRAIN Initiative awards will be submitted to the archives every 6 months. Submitting data to an archive is distinct from sharing that data with the research community. Submitted data will generally be held in a private enclave until the data are shared with the research community. Frequent submission allows those measuring the data to perform quality control checks as the data are deposited. Submitting the data on an ongoing basis is often easier than trying to package the data at the end of an award period.

After the data have been submitted to the appropriate data archive, it will be shared with the research community when papers using the data have been published or at the end of the award period, whichever occurs sooner. The calendar for submitting data to the relevant archive and sharing data with the research community will depend on the exact details of the experiments that are being conducted.

All applications to BRAIN Initiative FOAs are required to include a Resource Sharing Plan as part of the application. Consistent with authorities under the 21st Century Cures Act and these awards authorized under that Act, t he portion of that plan dealing with data must include:

1) a summary of the data that will be shared

2) a description of the standard(s) that will be used to describe the data set

3) the data archive(s) that will house the data

4) the proposed timeline for submitting data to the archive and sharing data with the research community.

For applications that involve human subjects, the Resource Sharing Plan should have a description of whether and how the consents that will be used to obtain that data will affect the research that can be done with that data. Consents that would allow the data to be used for General Research Use are not appropriate for all experiments, but applicants should use consents that allow broad data sharing whenever possible. A resource sharing plan is required no matter what level of funding is requested.

Costs associated with preparing and submitting data to a data archive should be included in grant applications.

BRAIN Initiative awardees who have received awards prior to the effective date of this Notice are encouraged to share their data. For awards made prior to the effective date of this Notice, administrative supplements may be necessary to prepare such data sets for submission to an appropriate repository. Investigators should discuss such supplements with their assigned program officer. Some existing BRAIN Initiative awardees already have data sharing expectations as part of their awards. This Notice does not alter existing data sharing expectations or milestones.


Please direct all inquiries to:

For technical assistance with data submission, please contact the relevant data archive.

For other inquiries please contact:

Ming Zhan, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-827-3678