NIH Issues Funding Opportunity Announcement for a Cell-Type Specific Armamentarium

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This funding opportunity announcement supports the development of technologies, production efforts, and dissemination resources for a cell type-specific armamentarium to study brain function across species. Applications are due in February and October of 2021.

RFA-MH-20-556 Pilot resources for brain cell type-specific access and manipulation across vertebrate species (U01; clinical trial not allowed)

Molecular access to diverse brain cell types enables more detailed study of neuronal circuits. The purpose of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to improve molecular access to diverse cell types through the evaluation of molecular or genetic technologies and the creation of pilot production and distribution resources for cell type-specific access and manipulation reagents for several vertebrate species. Applicants to this FOA should propose demonstration projects for reagent resource production, validation, and dissemination. The proposed projects should be scalable and must address the following three goals:

  1. Reagents enable unique access to many molecularly defined neural cell types that are found in a complex brain region or significant brain network of a vertebrate and that could exhibit distinct cellular, circuit, or behavioral functions.
  2. Reagents are easily produced, disseminated, utilized, and stored.
  3. Collection of reagents are catalogued for users in a brain atlas and registered to cell types based on molecular, anatomical, or other properties that can be referenced.

Examples of responsive research activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Creation of a collection of systemically administered viral or non-viral reagents that efficiently cross the blood brain barrier and direct construct expression to molecularly defined brain cell types
  • Bioinformatic analysis of genetic and epigenomic profiling data to identify candidate regulatory elements to confer brain cell type selectivity or specificity to constructs
  • Production of transgenic vertebrate responder lines containing widely used reporter, monitoring, or manipulation constructs that can be combined with molecular access driver reagents to be expressed in specific brain neural cell types

This FOA is the first in a series comprising the BRAIN 2.0 transformative projects, which were motivated and inspired by the recommendations in “The BRAIN Initiative 2.0: From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures” and “The BRAIN Initiative and Neuroethics: Enabling and Enhancing Neuroscience Advances for Society.” These large-scale projects, built on the early successes from the first half of the Initiative, will support the development and dissemination of important resources and data to propel neuroscience far into the future. Applications are due on February 11, 2021 and October 19, 2021. For more details and a list of relevant research topics, please see the full notice.