BRAIN issues funding opportunities to support brain cell type-selective access reagent engineering and dissemination facilities for molecular genetic technologies

The goal of the BRAIN Initiative Armamentarium for Precision Brain Cell Access is to generate tools to specifically access, manipulate, and monitor brain cell types across multiple species. BRAIN recently issued two Armamentarium-related funding opportunities to support brain cell type-selective access reagent engineering and dissemination facilities for scaling up and distributing molecular genetic technologies.

RFA-MH-25-100: Scaled reagent resources for brain cell type-specific access across vertebrate species (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

This funding opportunity supports Reagent Resources for Design and Development (RRDDs) for the scaling up of brain cell type-specific molecular or genetic access reagents to study circuit function. Resources are sought with reagents that are:

  • Scaled up to enable access to each molecularly defined brain neural cell type that could exhibit a distinct function
  • Easily produced, disseminated, utilized, and stored
  • Catalogued for users in a brain atlas that is registered to cell types
  • Applicable to both genetically tractable and less tractable vertebrate organisms
  • Highly specific, efficient, and reproducible in targeting cell types
  • Not toxic or perturbative to cells, tissues, and organisms
  • Flexible and compatible with other methods of cell access to deliver various payloads
  • Potentially usable in humans to target gene editors or other effectors to circuits for future therapies

This funding opportunity is intended to scale up brain cell type-selective access reagent engineering to work toward achievement of these reagent features for several vertebrate species, including in human ex vivo tissues or cells. Additionally, each RRDD project is required to work on reagent engineering, validation of reagent specificity and efficiency, cataloguing of validated reagents, and adaptation of reagents into formats that can be easily disseminated. Supported projects are expected to work closely together and will benefit from membership in the Armamentarium Consortium of researchers for sharing of technologies, reagents, and data to improve brain cell type-selective access reagents, as well as cooperation in publication and reagent distribution to integrate the technologies into neuroscience research. Please read the full NOFO (RFA-MH-25-100) for more information. Applications open May 14, 2024, and the next application due date is June 14, 2024.

RFA-MH-25-105: Production and distribution facilities for brain cell type-specific access reagents (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

This funding opportunity supports Production and Distribution Facilities to disseminate reagents specifically from RRDD projects developed under RFA-MH-25-100. Supported facilities will interface with these specific reagent development projects, scale up reagent production, disseminate reagents broadly, and coordinate reagent data distribution.  The types of reagents to be produced and distributed could include viral vectors, nucleic acid constructs, and nanoparticles designed for selective access to hundreds of brain cell types. Such reagents will enable neuroscientists to probe circuit function with high precision in experimental animals and ex vivo human tissue and cells. Facilities are needed to contribute to the production and distribution of reagents broadly to neuroscience researchers. This funding opportunity will foster close interaction between technologists, disseminators, and neurobiologists in a research consortium including investigators funded by other Armamentarium funding opportunities. Please read the full NOFO (RFA-MH-25-105) for more information. The earliest submission date is September 30, 2025, with a due date of October 31, 2025.

As part of the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s efforts to promote more impactful science through the inclusion of diverse perspectives, these NOFOs will require a Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) as part of the application.

Please visit the BRAIN Initiative’s funding opportunities webpage for more details on these and any additional opportunities that may arise.

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