Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN): Biologic-based Drug Discovery and Development for Disorders of the Nervous System (U44 Clinical Trial Optional)
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:
February 25, 2021
Estimated Publication Date of Funding Opportunity Announcement:
April 20, 2021
First Estimated Application Due Date:
August 10, 2021
Earliest Estimated Award Date:
March 15, 2022
Earliest Estimated Start Date:
April 01, 2022
Related Announcements

NOT-NS-21-031 - Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN-Biologics): Biologics-based Drug Discovery and Development for Disorders of the Nervous System (UG3/UH3 Clinical Trial Optional)

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 of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

All applications to this funding opportunity announcement should fall within the mission of the Institutes/Centers. The following NIH Offices may co-fund applications assigned to those Institutes/Centers.

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)


The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research announces its intention to publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for investigators seeking support from the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network for Biologics (BPN-Biologics). Applicants will be encouraged to utilize a customized set of contract resources and consultants from the BPN-Biologics Network to help advance their neuroscience-focused biotherapeutic discovery and development projects into the clinic. This Notice is provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.

The FOA is expected to be published in the spring of 2021 with an expected application due date in the summer of 2021.

Research Initiative Details

The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is a collaborative framework through which 14 NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices jointly support neuroscience-related research, with the aim of accelerating discoveries and reducing the burden of nervous system disorders (for further information, see To facilitate biotherapeutic discovery and development by the neuroscience community, the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research has established the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network for Biologics (BPN-Biologics), a collection of contract service providers and consultants with extensive industry experience in the areas of pharmacokinetics, toxicology, manufacturing, and Phase I clinical safety testing.

A planned Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will solicit applications from investigators seeking funding through a fast-track phased U44 cooperative agreement mechanism to help advance their biologic drug discovery and development projects into the clinic. This FOA will support preclinical discovery and development of potential therapeutic biologics and biotechnology products including, but not limited to, large biologic macromolecules, (e.g., proteins, antibodies, and peptides), gene-based therapies (i.e., oligonucleotide- and viral-based), cell therapies, and novel emerging therapies (e.g., microbial and microbiome therapies). Applicants will collaborate with NIH-funded consultants and can augment their project with NIH contract research organizations (CROs) that specialize in manufacturing, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, and Phase I clinical testing. BPN-Biologics awardee institutions retain their assignment of IP rights and gain assignment of IP rights from the BPN-Biologics contractors (and thereby control the patent prosecution and licensing negotiations) for biotherapeutic candidates developed in this program.

To be eligible for the BPN-Biologics program, an applicant must have identified one or more lead biologic agent(s) with established preliminary in vivo efficacy and target engagement data using the agent(s) in relevant animal model(s).The agent(s) should show in vivo efficacy using clinically relevant outcome measures and in vivo target engagement at the clinically intended site of action. The applicants should have key in vitro and in vivo assays that may be needed for any characterization and/or optimization of the lead biologics.

Projects can enter the BPN-Biologics program during Discovery or Development stages and may seek support through phase I/first-in-human testing. Discovery involves lead characterization and optimization to improve the potency and/or suitability for clinical testing, toward the goal of identifying a clinical candidate. During Development, a clinical candidate undergoes preclinical toxicology testing required for an IND and manufacturing, ultimately advancing into phase I/first-in-human testing. BPN-Biologics Development activities include cGMP manufacturing, toxicology studies, regulatory support, and phase I/first-in-human testing.

The NIH will assemble a customized Lead Development Team (LDT) for each project accepted into the program. The LDT typically will be co-chaired by the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) and a consultant with extensive industry expertise identified and supported by the NIH. The LDT may also include members of the PD/PI's team, NIH-hired consultants with additional expertise, and NIH staff. The LDT will plan and coordinate the work supported by the cooperative agreement award and conducted by BPN-Biologics contractors. All projects that enter the BPN-Biologics program will begin with a U44 Phase I during which the LDT will establish a detailed research plan with go/no-go milestones for all subsequent work.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with NIH program staff as plans for an application are being developed. Consultations will include conference calls with NIH program staff as well as webinars. Early contact provides an opportunity for NIH program staff to discuss the program’s scope, entry criteria, and goals and to provide information and guidance on how to develop a competitive application. For additional information on BPN, please see:

If you would like to be notified of more details regarding this Notice and registration for future program webinars, make sure to subscribe to the Division of Translational Research Listserv.

Funding Information
Estimated Total Funding


Expected Number of Awards
Estimated Award Ceiling

Application budgets must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project but should not include the costs of NIH contract resources requested.

The total duration may not exceed 5 years

Primary CFDA Numbers


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)
Indian/Native American Tribally Designated Organization (Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Other than Federally Recognized)
U.S. Territory or Possession
Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
Independent school districts
County governments
Regional Organization
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entity (Foreign Organization)

Applications are not being solicited at this time. 


Please direct all inquiries to:

Ann-Marie Broome, Ph.D., MBA

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)


Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices