NIH Request for Information (RFI) on Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities that Bridge Neuroscience and Environmental Health Science
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

May 19, 2022

Response Date:
July 11, 2022

Related Announcements

NOT-NS-22-076: NIH Request for Information (RFI) on Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities that Bridge Neuroscience and Environmental Health Science (rescinded)

Issued by

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

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)

Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH)


This Request for Information (RFI) seeks input on challenges and opportunities for interdisciplinary research that brings together neuroscientists, environmental health scientists, and scientists from other related disciplines to form new teams to advance understanding of the contribution of environmental toxicants to impaired function of the nervous system across the life span.

For the purpose of this RFI, environmental toxicants of primary interest include industrial chemicals or manufacturing byproducts, metals, pesticides, herbicides, air pollutants and other inhaled toxicants, particulates or fibers, plastics, fungal exposures, and bacterial or biologically derived toxins. Expression of toxicity can take many forms across different ages and developmental stages, ranging from neurodevelopmental to neurodegenerative disorders, and encompassing alterations in cognition and behavior that range from subtle to severe. The full range of nervous system outcomes is relevant to this RFI.


A wealth of studies, including many supported by the NIH, provide numerous examples of associations between exposure to environmental toxicants and adverse nervous system outcomes. The devastating consequences of legacy toxicants such as lead and mercury on child brain development have been known for decades, while a growing body of more recent research has linked adverse outcomes of the nervous system to prevalent exposures such as pesticides, ambient air pollution and compounds used as flame retardants and plasticizers. The timing of exposure is critically determining impact. While some exposures can produce rapid observable effects, there is mounting recognition of delayed effects. For example, exposures during critical windows early in development can exert delayed effects, ones not evident until adulthood. Neurotoxicologists, who represent a small fraction of the neuroscience research community, are actively pursuing the biology that links toxicant exposure to neurological outcomes; however, the wealth of knowledge and diverse expertise of the larger neuroscience community is needed.

Several recent National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) workshops (Environmental Neuroscience: Advancing the Understanding of How Chemical Exposures Impact Brain Health and Disease, The Interplay between Environmental Exposures and Mental Health Outcomes, and Integrating the Science of Aging and Environmental Health Research), highlighted the importance of fostering interdisciplinary Team Research to harness the collective efforts of neuroscientists and the environmental health sciences community. These collaborations provide a means to accelerate our understanding of the role of environmental chemicals in nervous system dysfunction and the cellular and molecular mechanisms at play. This knowledge is critical for achieving a full understanding of the multifactorial etiologies of neurological disease, disorders, and dysfunctions that are relevant to the missions of several NIH Institutes and Centers. The potential modifiability of many environmental exposures creates opportunities for novel prevention and intervention strategies to reduce the burden of neurological illness across the lifespan, especially in underserved communities where health inequities are prevalent.

Information Requested

This RFI invites comments, ideas, and information related to gaps, challenges and opportunities for collaborative research bridging neuroscience and environmental health science. Comments are welcome from all stakeholders, including but not limited to, neuroscientists, toxicologists and other members of the environmental health science community, clinicians, patient advocacy groups, individuals and families affected by neurological conditions and interested members of the public. Responses may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Promoting interdisciplinary research
    • Major barriers to collaborations that could bridge neuroscience and toxicology
    • Tools and resources that could facilitate establishing and maintaining productive collaborations among neuroscientists and environmental health scientists
  • Current gaps and opportunities in research on:
    • The effects of environmental exposures on neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases, disorders, and stroke
    • Environmental impact on the nervous system associated with health and well-being in aging
    • The effect of environmental exposures throughout neurodevelopment
    • How socioenvironmental factors impact the brain to contribute to the initiation and/or escalation of substance use
    • Complementary and integrative health approaches that could benefit from more collaborative research between neuroscientists and environmental health scientists

How to Submit a Response

Responses will be accepted through July 11, 2022. All comments must be submitted electronically on the Web Portal at: Responders are free to address any or all the questions listed above. All submitted information will be reviewed by NIH staff.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary and may be submitted anonymously. You may voluntarily include your name and contact information with your response. If you choose to provide NIH with this information, NIH will not share your name and contact information outside of NIH unless required by law.

The Government will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion. The Government reserves the right to use any submitted information on public websites, in reports, in summaries of the state of the science, in any possible resultant solicitation(s), grant(s), or cooperative agreement(s), or in the development of future funding opportunity announcements.

This RFI is for informational and planning purposes only and is not a solicitation for applications or an obligation on the part of the Government to provide support for any ideas identified in response to it. Please note that the Government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for use of that information.

We look forward to your input and hope that you will share this RFI opportunity with your colleagues.


Please direct all inquiries to:

David A. Jett PhD
Environmental Neuroscience Working Group
National Institutes of Health