BRAIN Initiative: Optimization of Transformative Technologies for Large Scale Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System (U01 Clinical Trials Not Allowed)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

Understanding the dynamic activity of neural circuits is central to the NIH BRAIN Initiative. Although invention and proof-of-concept testing of new technologies are a key component of the BRAIN Initiative, to achieve their potential these technologies must also be optimized through feedback from end-users in the context of the intended experimental use. This FOA seeks applications for the optimization of existing and emerging technologies and approaches that have potential to address major challenges associated with recording and manipulating neural activity, at or near cellular resolution, at multiple spatial and temporal scales, in any region and throughout the entire depth of the brain.  This FOA is intended for the iterative refinement of emergent technologies and approaches that have already demonstrated their transformative potential through initial proof-of-concept testing, and are appropriate for accelerated development of hardware and software while scaling manufacturing techniques towards sustainable, broad dissemination and user-friendly incorporation into regular neuroscience practice. 

Proposed technologies should be compatible with experiments in behaving animals, and should include advancements that enable or reduce major barriers to hypothesis-driven experiments.  Technologies may engage diverse types of signaling beyond neuronal electrical activity for large-scale analysis, and may utilize any modality such as optical, electrical, magnetic, acoustic or genetic recording/manipulation.  Applications that seek to integrate multiple approaches are encouraged.  Applications are expected to integrate appropriate domains of expertise, including where appropriate biological, chemical and physical sciences, engineering, computational modeling and statistical analysis.

An additional FOA (RFA-NS-18-020) solicits applications for proof-of-concept testing and development of new technologies and novel approaches for large-scale recording and manipulation of neural activity.


  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s): 30 days prior to the application due date
  • Application Due Date(s): May 15, 2018, October 29, 2018, May 1, 2019, October 29, 2019, May 1, 2020, and October 29, 2020

RFA-NS-18-019 Expiration Date October 30, 2020  




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

External Deadline

May 1, 2020