BRAIN Initiative: Research on the Ethical Implications of Advancements in Neurotechnology and Brain Science
NIH - National Institutes of Health (RFA-MH-19-400)
- Proposal: 02/04/2019
- Amount: up to $300,000 per year
- Duration: up to 4 years
This funding opportunity announcement (FOA), in support of the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, is one of several FOAs aimed at supporting transformative discoveries that will lead to breakthroughs in understanding human brain function. Guided by the long-term scientific plan, “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision,” this FOA specifically seeks to support efforts addressing core ethical issues associated with research focused on the human brain and resulting from emerging technologies and advancements supported by the BRAIN Initiative.
Efforts supported under this FOA are intended to be both complementary and integrative with the transformative, breakthrough neuroscience discoveries supported through the BRAIN Initiative.
This FOA seeks to provide opportunities to directly consider the integration of ethical issues with BRAIN-supported scientific advances. Specifically, this FOA seeks to support efforts addressing core ethical issues associated with research focused on the human brain and resulting from emerging technologies and advancements in research and development supported by the BRAIN Initiative. The hope is that efforts supported under this initiative might be both complimentary and integrative with the transformative, breakthrough neuroscience discoveries supported through the BRAIN Initiative.
While there are many ethical topics that might be suitable for leveraging an integrated research approach, input from the Neuroethics Working Group (https://braininitiative.nih.gov/about/neuroethics.htm) of the BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group and feedback from a Request For Information (RFI) on BRAIN Neuroethics has helped inform priority areas of ethics best suited for this FOA. Indeed, the BRAIN Initiative currently supports several research project grants focused on neuroethics. For this FOA, applications that focus on the following areas relevant to the BRAIN Initiative would be considered of particular interest:
- Research on risk/benefit analyses and informed consent practices in human neuroscience research with neural devices, and long-term obligations to patient populations
- Studies that probe the ethical implications/considerations 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
- Studies that consider the ethical implications of evolving neuromodulation and neuroimaging technologies, specifically as they pertain to the infrastructure of these technologies (activation and monitoring of devices, long-term maintenance, data security, intended and unintended use of these new technologies)
- Studies that empirically consider different perspectives on the distinction between invasive versus non-invasive brain imaging and/or neuromodulation; particularly as those views are similar or different between groups such as participants, researchers, physicians, families, and the broader public view
- The ethical implications of access to and use of emerging neurotechnologies and their relationship to informed consent (participant perspective on the consent process, consent with special populations, changes in consent capacity associated with disease progression)
- Ethical issues unique to research that leverages opportunities with human brain tissue
- Ethical issues associated with predictive/diagnostic research related to brain disorders
- Public, researcher, and/or research participant attitudes and decision-making 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
- Cybersecurity/privacy considerations, such as effective security and safeguards for human brain data and wireless transmissions to/from neural devices; gaps/provisions needed in existing regulatory models
- Studies focused on the advances in neural recording and/or neuromodulation specifically for use in children
- Research efforts to link neural data with behavioral data to better understand and/or diagnose brain diseases and disorders
All potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the Scientific/Research Contacts listed below to discuss the alignment of their proposed work with the FOA goals.