Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for the "Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC): Data Coordination, Mapping, and Modeling Center (U54)"

Notice Number: NOT-RM-16-009

Key Dates
Release Date:  March 25, 2016

Estimated Publication Date of Announcement:  May 2016 
First Estimated Application Due Date:  July 2016 
Earliest Estimated Award Date:  November 2016 
Earliest Estimated Start Date: December 2016  

Related Announcements

Issued by
Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)


The NIH intends to develop and implement a Data Coordination, Mapping, and Modeling Center (DCMMC) for the Common Fund Program, Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC).  As part of this process, the NIH plans to publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to invite applications for the DCMMC.

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 Spring 2016 with an expected application due date in Summer 2016.

This FOA will utilize the U54 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.

Research Initiative Details

Through the SPARC program, the NIH plans to support multidisciplinary teams of investigators to deliver foundational understanding of the physiological mechanisms of neural control of several major organs, novel electrode designs, minimally invasive surgical procedures, and stimulation protocols. Driven by end goals of improving existing, and developing new, neuromodulation therapies to relieve conditions, the program will be iterative and dynamic, with the technologies informing neural mapping efforts, and the mapping results defining new technology requirements. 

The SPARC program will use recent advances in technology – as well as anticipated new technological developments facilitated by the program – to produce detailed, predictive, functional and anatomical maps of the autonomic and sensory innervation of multiple major organs in humans. These maps will provide a foundation for the development and testing of novel electrodes, stimulation protocols, and minimally invasive surgical procedures to improve existing, or develop new, neuromodulation therapies, and to test existing approved neuromodulation devices in new applications.

The primary goal of the DCMMC is to produce detailed, predictive, functional and anatomical neural circuit maps of the autonomic and sensory innervation of multiple internal organs or organ systems, using the data generated by the various projects funded through SPARC. This center will assemble data from all SPARC components into a coordinated data resource, develop a "living" map of the neural circuits innervating the organs, and incorporate methods for modeling the data.

A planned FOA will solicit applications from investigators to develop the DCMMC. It is anticipated that any team of investigators will include specific expertise in relevant mapping, data coordination and multi-scale modeling, such as to be able to achieve the primary goals of:

Data Coordination: The Data Coordination Core will manage and facilitate access to neuroanatomical mapping and neuromodulation data, metadata, protocols, and tools, and develop a framework for enabling the evaluation of comparative datasets that deal with both animal models and human data.

Mapping: The Mapping Core will be responsible for developing dynamic "living" maps of the major circuitry of the nervous system and the end organs, as well as the functional aspects of such circuits. It is anticipated that the core will characterize nerve pathways all the way to end-organ cells being affected.

Modeling: The Modeling Core will be expected to integrate the models and methods to manage knowledge across projects, organs and systems with the view to creating predictive maps. It will also be responsible for integrating predictive computational models for the neurobiology and neuromodulation studies from other SPARC projects, and potentially, projects outside of the SPARC initiative.

This Notice encourages investigators with expertise and insights in the following areas to begin to consider applying for this new FOA. The team is expected to include theorists, modelers, and data scientists with expertise in neuroscience. Teams should plan on including expertise in anatomical and functional mapping, multi-scale modeling of the nervous system, as well as expertise in data coordination and integration across multimodal and/or multi-organ research projects. Teams will also be expected to work in close coordination with projects funded through the other components of the SPARC program; it is anticipated that applicants will include expertise in successfully working with large consortia of biomedical research teams.

Further details and more goals of the DCMMC will be outlined in the forthcoming FOA. Please visit the SPARC web site ( to view the list of existing funding announcements, and the activities/projects that have been funded to date.




Please direct all inquiries to:

Vinay M. Pai
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Telephone: 301-451-4781