BRAIN Initiative: Request for Information (RFI) on Development and Dissemination of Human Brain Imaging Technologies
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

January 15, 2021

Response Date:
April 01, 2021

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Issued by

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

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 Mental Health (NIMH)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)


The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit public input for NIH on investments for The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative in non-invasive human brain imaging technologies.

BRAIN Initiative Overview

The 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.

The NIH component of the BRAIN initiative has been 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 over 12 years. In 2018, the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) formed a new working group to assess BRAIN Initiative progress and provide guidance on key opportunities, along with a neuroethics group tasked with considering the ethical implications of ongoing research and forecasting what the future of BRAIN advancements might entail. The findings of these groups are detailed in two reports: The BRAIN Initiative® 2.0: From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures and The BRAIN Initiative® and Neuroethics: Enabling and Enhancing Neuroscience Advances for Society. This Notice and FOAs issued as part of the BRAIN Initiative are based on careful consideration by the NIH of the recommendations of these two reports, as well as ongoing input from the BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group (MCWG) and Neuroethics Working Group (NEWG). General information about the BRAIN Initiative, including videocasts and meeting summaries of the MCWG and NEWG proceedings, is available at

BRAIN Initiative Investments in Human Imaging Technologies

Starting in fiscal year 2014, NIH released the following FOAs for next generation human imaging technologies (listed with links to the FOAs and to the specific awards in NIH RePORTER):

Together, these projects represent a diverse portfolio of next generation imaging modalities at different stages of development. As general goals, they are aimed at achieving increased sensitivity and spatiotemporal resolution, increased portability and compatibility with complex behaviors, and reduced cost. In its recent report, the BRAIN 2.0 ACD Working Group noted that these grants are scheduled to complete final design, construction and testing over the next few years, and although NIH has made significant progress towards the original BRAIN 2025 goals, success awaits full implementation.

BRAIN Initiative Human Imaging Workshops

To develop a clear and detailed view of current and upcoming requirements and opportunities for human imaging technology development and dissemination, the NIH BRAIN Initiative will be holding the following public workshops:

February 18-19, 2021: BRAIN Initiative: Dissemination of BRAIN Non-Invasive Imaging Technologies

This workshop will feature progress updates from BRAIN Initiative U01 awardees (see Full Scale Development FOAs above), as well as presentations from industry representatives on potential paths for follow-on dissemination and commercialization. Discussion panels with technologists and neuroscience end-users will address potential gaps and critical issues within the context of these projects. The presentations will be posted prior to the workshop, and the discussion will be broadcast to the public. For more information, go to

March 9-11, 2021: BRAIN Initiative: Transformative Non-Invasive Imaging Technologies

The goal of this workshop is to bring together neuroscientists, tool developers/engineers, and industry partners to identify new non-invasive functional imaging tools that could be realized in the next five to ten years. Discussion topics will include how to maximize potential impact of these technologies on human neuroscience research, and identification of possible pathways for their dissemination. Presentations will be posted prior to the workshop, and the discussion will be broadcast to the public. For more information, go to [ ].

Information Requested

The NIH seeks input from key extramural community stakeholders, including researchers in academia and industry, clinicians, and scientific societies and advocacy organizations, as well from interested members of the public, on strategies to advance the utility of non-invasive functional brain imaging tools, including those that are already under development as part of the BRAIN Initiative, as well as tools that could be newly implemented in the next five to ten years. The input sought by NIH includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Identify in-vivo human neuroscience research directions that could be further advanced with BRAIN-funded non-invasive functional brain imaging capabilities and/or could drive priorities for new capabilities.
  2. Identify gaps and challenges in human neuroscience research that could be bridged by BRAIN-funded or future non-invasive functional brain imaging technologies and analytics.
  3. Identify scientific, methodological, engineering, or operational barriers that limit the use or dissemination of BRAIN-funded imaging capabilities under current development.
  4. Identify barriers to the development of future non-invasive functional brain imaging capabilities.
  5. Identify practical avenues of translating science and engineering innovations to non-invasive functional brain imaging capabilities.
  6. Identify pathways, major challenges, roadblocks, and potential remedies for disseminating technology and services to non-expert scientists using non-invasive functional brain imaging tools.
  7. Identify ways to promote greater use of BRAIN-funded or future non-invasive functional brain imaging technologies in the broader research community.
  8. Identify any potential neuroethical or diversity, or other considerations that should inform development and dissemination of non-invasive imaging technologies.
  9. Any other comments that might accelerate and/or enhance research with new non-invasive functional brain imaging technologies and methods.

How to Submit a Response

You may respond to this RFI by filling out this webform submitting an email to by April 1, 2021. If submitting by email, please include the Notice number (NOT-NS-21-024) in the subject line. Responding to this RFI is voluntary. Responses may address any or all aspects of the information requested or other relevant topics pertinent for consideration by NIH. NIH staff will use discretion when considering responses submitted after the comment period has closed.

Respondents will not receive individualized feedback concerning their responses. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s), summaries, or other materials.

This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a policy, solicitation for applications, or an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health, or the BRAIN Initiative Institutes and Centers to provide support for any ideas identified in response to it. Please note that NIH does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or to otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Shumin Wang

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

Telephone: 301-594-9001


Edmund Talley, Ph.D.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-1917

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