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NIH funding announcements call for technology development for BRAIN Initiative

The National Institutes of Health recently announced funding opportunities for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative in 2014. The funds will support the development of new technologies to aide in the collection and interpretation of data from the brain. The NIH, National Science Foundation and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will provide a total of $110 million in 2014 to support the initiative, which is described in an earlier post.

Private organizations also are making contributions. The grant opportunities respond to the priorities identified by the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director's BRAIN Working Group and focus mostly on technology development. Five of the six opportunities are U01s or Research Project Cooperative Agreements, which support investigators' research projects and anticipate a substantial involvement between the awarding institute and the investigator. Two announcements are aimed at developing methods to classify and analyze neural cells and circuits. Three focus on optimizing existing and designing new technologies to record and modulate dynamic circuits. The sixth announcement is a R24, which provides resources for complex problems requiring multiple areas of expertise. This announcement supports the formation of interdisciplinary teams to general novel and non-invasive imaging techniques.

While this sixth initiative specifically calls for the formation of teams with multiple areas of expertise, projects submitted to any of the announcements could draw on the skills of researchers outside of biology such as statisticians and computer programmers. As these are the first of the BRAIN Initiative awards and potential applicants may be applying to the NIH for the first time, informational conference calls are scheduled for January and February. The application deadlines are in March and NIH expects to announce the awards in September. These awards will be NIH's $40 million contribution to the BRAIN Initiative in 2014.

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