BRAIN Initiative: Engineering and optimization of molecular technologies for functional dissection of neural circuits (UM1 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is intended to support the creation of Centers for accelerated engineering and optimization of high-impact, molecular technologies to monitor and/or manipulate brain cell activity in experimental animals. The Centers will produce high-impact molecular probes such as, but not limited to, fluorescent protein indicators of neuronal state variables (e.g., intracellular calcium, membrane voltage, released neurotransmitters/neuromodulators, etc.), molecular integrators of neural activity, optogenetic, chemogenetic, sonogenetic, magnetogenetic actuators, and activity-dependent molecular switches. This FOA is part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN Initiative Armamentarium project, whose goal is to generate tools to specifically access, manipulate, and monitor brain cell types across multiple species. In this FOA, technology optimization is sought for existing tools for brain cell monitoring or manipulation that are beyond the proof-of-concept stage and that can be delivered selectively as payloads to cell types using newly developed brain cell access reagents. Each Molecular Payloads Center is expected to integrate: (1) sufficiently scaled molecular engineering, (2) in vivo validation of improvements seen in engineering assays in intact brains of experimental animals, (3) benchmarking throughout the technology development against existing best-in-class tools, and (4) adaptation of tools into easily produced and applied formats for neuroscience users. Molecular Payloads Centers may also include optional demonstration experiments that establish groundbreaking capabilities of improved molecular tools in vivo. This FOA will foster close interaction between technologists and neurobiologists in a research consortium including tool developers funded by other Armamentarium FOAs for brain cell access reagents. The Armamentarium consortium will promote rigorous technology design, benchmarking, validation, and distribution of monitoring and/or manipulation tools and associated brain cell access reagents.


  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s): 30 days prior to the application due date

  • Application Due Dates: June 28, 2023; Feb. 15, 2024; Oct. 17, 2024

RFA-MH-22-245 Expiration Date October 18, 2024




Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science

External Deadline

October 17, 2024