Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Discovery of Cell-based Chemical Probes for Novel Brain Targets (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:
August 14, 2020
Estimated Publication Date of Funding Opportunity Announcement:
September 08, 2020
First Estimated Application Due Date:
October 05, 2020
Earliest Estimated Award Date:
May 04, 2021
Earliest Estimated Start Date:
May 04, 2021
Related Announcements

NOT-MH-20-075 - Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Discovery of in vivo Chemical Probes for the Nervous System (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications for research on 1) discovery and development of novel, small molecules for their potential use in understanding biological processes relevant to the mission of NIMH and 2) discovery and/or validation of novel, biological targets that will inform studies of brain disease mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on projects that provide new insight into important disease-related biological targets and biological processes. 

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 Fall 2020 with an expected application due date in Fall 2020.

This FOA will utilize the R21 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below

Research Initiative Details

This program creates an opportunity for integrated research in biology and chemistry on structure-activity relationships (SAR) of novel compounds through an iterative and parallel optimization process, to advance successful development of cell-based chemical probes. Applicants to this FOA should have in hand the starting compounds (“validated hits”) for chemical optimization and bioassays for testing new analog compounds. The iterative bioassay and chemical optimization cycles may encompass:

  • Cellular activity (potency in cellular assays);
  • Cellular penetration (cellular permeability measured in relevant assays: Caco-2/MDR1-MDCK/PAMPA);
  • Aqueous solubility;
  • Selectivity (assessment of on-target and off-target effects in cells);
  • Cellular target engagement (mechanism of action)

The above-mentioned areas of investigation are representative and not meant to be all-inclusive.

Funding Information
Estimated Total Funding

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

Expected Number of Awards
Estimated Award Ceiling

Direct costs are limited to $275,000 over a two-year period, with no more than $200,000 in direct costs allowed in any single year.

Primary CFDA Numbers

93.242, 93.173, 93.279

Anticipated Eligible Organizations
Public/State Controlled Institution of Higher Education
Private Institution of Higher Education
Nonprofit with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institution of Higher Education)
Small Business
For-Profit Organization (Other than Small Business)
State Government
Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Federally Recognized)
County governments
Independent school districts
Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
Indian/Native American Tribally Designated Organization (Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
U.S. Territory or Possession
Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Other than Federally Recognized)
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entity (Foreign Organization)
Regional Organization
Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government

Applications are not being solicited at this time. 


Please direct all inquiries to:

Enrique L Michelotti PhD
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices