Request for Information (RFI): Challenges and Opportunities in Single Cell Analysis for Biomedical Research

Notice Number: NOT-RM-12-018

Key Dates

Release Date:  March 29, 2012  
Response Due Date: April 12, 2012

Issued by

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)


This RFI is directed toward identifying the key challenges in the arena of single cell research.

The Single Cell Analysis Working Group of the NIH Common Fund wishes to identify challenges and emerging opportunities related to single cell analysis.  The NIH is especially interested in promoting the analysis of an individual cell within a heterogeneous population. Overcoming these challenges would advance biomedical research at the single cell level facilitating the identification of cellular markers of disease risk and disease progression; enable the development of improved diagnostic tests; and advance our understanding of treatment impact across a broad range of cell types and disease states.

The purpose of this RFI is to collect information from the broader research community to determine where conceptual, technical and methodological barriers exist in single cell analysis. All areas of single cell analysis are of interest including, but not limited to: “-omics” approaches (genomics, epigenomics, proteomics, lipidomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics etc.), cellular development (e.g. cell cycling and differentiation), cell motility, membrane biology, cell communication pathways (e.g. intracellular and extracellular), and cell physiology.  Technological and methodological gaps may include such things as source material access, preparation, and handling; novel assay development, including improvements in sensitivity, throughput, integration and/or automation; novel instrumentation capabilities (flow cytometry, mass spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, optical imaging etc; data collection, modeling, analysis and storage.

Information Requested

As part an ongoing process to gather information for planning meetings, workshops, and program efforts, the Single Cell Analysis Working Group requests information on the following topics related to challenges in single cell analysis in the context of basic, translational, and/or clinical research. Please comment and provide specific examples addressing the following:

1. Major biomedical research opportunities that can be addressed by single cell analysis.

2. Considering ongoing research efforts, the biggest methodological and technical challenges impeding research in single cell analysis.

3. New research or diagnostic tools needed to answer specific questions involving the analysis of single cells.

4. Relevant ground-breaking approaches or technologies of which the biomedical community is not widely aware.


The NIH is committed to understanding the needs of the research community and supporting high-impact research in this area. To that end, we encourage visionary ideas that will dramatically stimulate the use of single cell analysis in answering pressing biomedical research questions.

Please send responses to no later than April 12, 2012.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary.  Any personal identifiers (e.g., names, addresses, e-mail addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled.  Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response.  The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s).

This Request for Information (RFI) is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and/or the NIH Common Fund. The 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:

Richard Conroy, Ph.D.
Program Director
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
6707 Democracy Blvd.
Bethesda, MD 20817
Telephone: 301-402-1486
Fax: 301-480-1614

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