NIH BRAIN Initiative: Research on the Ethical Implications of Advancements in Neurotechnology and Brain Science

Funding Opportunity Number: RFA-MH-25-171

Deadline: October 11, 2024

Research Objectives

One of the defined themes in the BRAIN 2025 report is: “*Considers ethical implications of neuroscience research*.” Although ethical issues that are common to other areas of biomedical science also impact brain research, there are special ethical considerations unique to brain research. Considering that the brain gives rise to consciousness, our innermost thoughts, and our most basic human needs, it comes as no surprise that mechanistic studies of the brain have revealed novel social and ethical questions. With respect to research supported by the BRAIN Initiative, there are important ethical issues in areas such as brain imaging and modulation, data privacy, informed consent, and many other areas germane to the BRAIN Initiative that warrant focused attention. It is clear that these critical issues must be considered thoughtfully and with an empirical research framework. Specifically, BRAIN 2025 describes the importance of “Support for data-driven research to inform ethical issues arising from BRAIN Initiative research, ideally with integrated activities between ethicists and neuroscientists.” In addition, feedback solicited through a BRAIN Neuroethics Request for Information underscores that the broader public and scientists alike endorse that scientific advances and technology development are well-served by thoughtful consideration of potential ethical issues.

This NOFO seeks to provide opportunities to directly consider the integration of ethical issues with BRAIN-supported scientific advances. Specifically, this NOFO 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 goal is that efforts supported under this initiative will be both complementary and integrative with the transformative, breakthrough neuroscience discoveries supported through the BRAIN Initiative.

The Advisory Council to the Director Working Group on BRAIN 2.0 Neuroethics Subgroup identified several broad areas for the BRAIN Initiative to consider as suggested next steps:

  • Enhance integration of neuroscience and neuroethics
  • Provide additional tools and resources for neuroscientists to recognize neuroethics issues and opportunities for neuroethics research
  • Assess the development and use of innovative animal and neural-circuit model systems
  • Establish guidelines for the neuroscience data ecosystem that address data capture, storage, sharing, and translation to humans and society
  • Initiate conversations and collaborations to address neuroscience applications beyond biomedical and clinical contexts

For more information, please see the opportunity website.