BRAIN issues notice of supplements to embed ethicists into BRAIN Initiative research

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Illustration of human brain with electrodes.

This Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) announces the availability of administrative supplements to integrate neuroethics perspectives and approaches into current BRAIN-funded projects.

The NIH BRAIN Initiative Neuroethics Program helps to identify and navigate ethical challenges and implications of neuroscience research and discoveries. In 2017, the NIH began funding neuroethics research through an R01 funding opportunity to study the ethical implications of neurotechnology and brain science. These funds have already led to collaborations between neuroscientists and ethicists that may have not otherwise happened, and exciting new projects on the ethics of portable neuroimaging machines, personality changes in patients with neural devices, and other topics.

In addition to research project grants, the NIH is again supporting administrative supplements aimed to integrate neuroethics into currently BRAIN-funded research projects (see notice NOT-MH-22-040). Supplement requests must be within the scope of the original grant aims and applicants can request up to one year of support.

Examples of relevant activities include:

  • Ethical implications of access and use of emerging neurotechnologies and their relationships to informed consent.
  • Stakeholder perspectives about monitoring or modulating brain function for purposes of improving our understanding of human brain function and/ or reducing illness and disability due to brain diseases and disorders.
  • Considerations of cultural differences, treatment/ access barriers, and efforts to enhance inclusion in BRAIN research.
  • Research on long-term obligations to patient populations involved in novel BRAIN neurotechnologies.
  • Studies that empirically consider different perspectives on the distinction between invasive versus non-invasive brain imaging and/ or neuromodulation.
  • Ethical issues associated with predictive/ diagnostic research related to brain disorders.
  • Studies that probe the ethical implications of both collecting large volumes of brain data and the sharing of such for broader scientific purposes.
  • Studies that explore the evolving richness of collected human neural data and considerations such as data ownership, access, de-identification and re-use practices, privacy, and unintended uses.
  • Ethical issues unique to research that leverages opportunities with human brain tissue.

To apply for a neuroethics supplement, please submit requests through the funding opportunity PA-20-272. Applications are due on April 21, 2022.

For more details, see the full notice here.