BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

March 23, 2020


News

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered universities and institutes, leaving scientists scrambling to continue their research. Labs are trying to figure out who will care for animals and organoids, and some clinical trials have been put on hold. These decisions may stall and stymie research, with long-term consequences for the field.
In this Q&A, Science chats with the heads of two animal facilities—Eric Hutchinson, the associate director of research animal resources at Johns Hopkins University and Peter Smith, associate director of Yale University’s Animal Resources Center—about how they are coping with quarantines, animal welfare, and worst-case scenarios.
Research published last week in Science Advances sheds new light on the molecular machinery that enables the shape, growth, and movement of neurons. It is the first time scientists have revealed how the brain shuttles genetic code within its cells, a process believed to be crucial for the formation and storage of long-term memories.
Scientists were recently able to “rescue” a preclinical model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in juvenile models, reversing motor skill deficits with the help of a novel drug derived from scorpion venom. The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, could offer hope to an estimated 119,000 children born with this condition worldwide each year.
Until now, the connection between scent and memory connection has been something of an enigma. Even the mechanisms that underlie memory formation in general have been debated in recent years. But new research provides a "blueprint" of memory processing, which might eventually lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of mental health conditions such as PTSD.
Scientists have previously struggled to pinpoint the exact cause of uncontrollable movements or tremors associated with neurodegenerative diseases. A study published last week in eLife reveals that abnormal signaling by Purkinje cells in the brain causes tremors, and it suggests that targeting deep brain stimulation to the cerebellum might be able to help treat this condition.
Researchers at UC Berkeley have built a microscope that can image the brain of an alert mouse 1,000 times a second, recording for the first time the passage of millisecond electrical pulses through neurons. With this technique, neuroscientists can now clock electrical signals as they propagate through the brain and look for transmission problems associated with disease.
A collaboration to develop an integrated overview of all standards activity that is specifically related to BMI-related neurotechnologies is now available for public comment. This roadmap provides an overview of the existing and developing standards in the field of neurotechnologies for brain-machine interfacing as well as recommendations on the priorities for standardization.
The inaugural workshop, held October 15-16, 2019, in Washington DC, by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, explored the key policy challenges that impede efforts to improve care for those individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. This publication summarizes the workshop's discussion and presentations.

Deadline Extended – BBI Seed Grant Program

The Brain and Behavior Initiative is seeking the next round of exciting proposals for collaborative research about behavior and the brain!
 
Over the last four years, BBI has awarded seed funding to 27 teams of innovative interdisciplinary researchers from nearly 30 departments, centers, and institutes across campus. These have been extremely successful: BBI's $1.75M investment has yielded $12.5M in funding from NIH, NSF, and AFOSR.
 
Brief Statement of Intent: March 2, 2020
Full Proposal Deadline:  ̶M̶a̶r̶c̶h̶ ̶3̶0̶,̶ ̶2̶0̶2̶0̶  **June 1, 2020**
 
Please see this year's Frequently Asked Questions, or direct queries to bbiumd@umd.edu.

Funding Announcements

**Below is a list of recent funding announcements; a running compendium of open FOAs can be found at bbi.umd.edu/news/FOA.**
 
*New!* The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation invites applications to its Program to Accelerate Clinical Trials to increase the number of innovative pharmacologic interventions tested in clinical studies for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias including novel, repurposed, and repositioned drugs as well as natural products. Letters of Intent due April 10, 2020
 
*New!* The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative invites applications to its Summer 2020 Pilot Project Grants to provide early support for exploratory ideas, particularly those with novel hypotheses for autism. Applications due April 24, 2020
 
*New!* NIH encourages R61 applications for Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research (PAR-20-143) to improve understanding of the determinants of firearm injury, the identification of those at risk of firearm injury (including both victims and perpetrators), the development and evaluation of innovative interventions to prevent firearm injury and mortality, and the examination of approaches to improve the implementation of existing, evidence-based interventions to prevent firearm injury and mortality. Applications due May 15, 2020
 
*New!* The FDA invites U01 applications to its Incorporating Cost Effectiveness & Societal Outcomes into FDA Opioids Model (RFA-FD-20-031) program to integrate new structural components, new data, and new analyses into the FDA’s existing model and policy analysis tool, including social outcomes (quality of life, untreated pain, etc.) and cost effectiveness to provide more holistic insight into the opioid crisis and enhance decision makers' ability to propose and consider policy options. Applications due May 18, 2020
 
*New!* The NIDDK invites R01 applications to conduct patient-oriented clinical research studies designed to develop strategies to mitigate health disparities in people with one or more chronic diseases or conditions (PAR-DK-20-015). Populations of interest include those disproportionately burdened with multiple chronic conditions and/or disparities in social, behavioral and/or biological risk factors. Applications due May 22, 2020.
 
*New!* The NIH will award Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grants (T32) (PA-20-142) to eligible, domestic institutions to enhance predoctoral and postdoctoral research training, including short-term research training, and help ensure that a diverse and highly trained workforce is available to meet the needs of the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research agenda. Applications due May 25, 2020.
 
*New!* The NCCIH encourages P01 applications requiring multi-project, synergistic collaborations blending multiple research approaches from outstanding multidisciplinary research teams (PAR-20-138). This Center of Excellence for Research on Complementary and Integrative Health program is designed to support three or more highly meritorious projects that can offer significant scientific advantages and "synergy" that could not be achieved by supporting the same projects as individual research grants. Applications due May 25, 2020.
 
This Notice (NOT-DA-20-005) invites innovative research to characterize the consequences of psychosocial factors on mechanisms of action and determinants of vulnerability and/or resilience to substance use disorder (SUD). Research using basic or clinical approaches is appropriate. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
The purpose of this Notice (NOT-DA-20-039) is to encourage investigators to submit grant applications to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to study the effects of cannabis and cannabinoid exposure on the developing brain, from pre-, peri-, and post-natal development through young adulthood in humans and using animal models. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
This Notice (NOT-DA-20-030) encourages applications for research projects that identify, validate and/or functionally characterize loci, genetic variations and haplotypes that are associated with vulnerability to addiction and that potentially inform the likelihood of responsiveness to treatment. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
The purpose of this Notice (NOT-DA-20-017) is to encourage research project applications aimed at developing and/or implementing specialized software for tracking, characterization, and analysis of Substance Use Disorder (SUD)-related behaviors. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.
 
*New!* NIMH is issuing this Notice (NOT-MH-20-027) to highlight its interest in supporting intervention development activities for older adults. Applies to due dates on or after June 5, 2020.

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