July 8, 2019


The gut microbiome has been linked to depression, schizophrenia, and other neurological conditions, but it is not yet clear whether this relationship is causal. Now, researchers are striving to identify biomarkers that might be informative to treatment or prognosis, since a plan of care for patients with mental health conditions cannot currently be developed with blood tests or test tissues, as they can with cancer or other conditions.
A new study by the National Eye Institute, part of NIH, provides evidence that the human brain’s visual system is especially sensitive to the color of faces compared to the colors of other objects or things. The findings underscore the complexity of color perception: far from operating as a reflex, color perception involves a set of sophisticated brain operations that ultimately assign value and meaning to what we see.
Scientists looking for a link between repeated brain trauma and lasting neurological damage typically study the brains of soldiers or football players. But it is unclear whether this damage—known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—is prevalent in the general population. Now, a new study reports those rates for the first time: 6% of the population shows signs of CTE.
Scientists working in the field of connectomics—the study of connections inside the nervous systems of organisms—have announced that they have mapped the complete nervous system of a tiny creature. The nervous system in question belongs to the Caenorhabditis elegans roundworm, a simple life form who may yet reveal clues about the biology of more complex animals, including humans.
Researchers say they have found additional evidence that Parkinson's disease originates among cells in the gut and travels up the body's neurons to the brain. The study offers a new, more accurate model in which to test treatments that could prevent or halt Parkinson’s disease progression, since blocking the transmission route of misfolded alpha-synuclein could prevent the physical and cognitive manifestations of Parkinson's.
NIH-funded researchers are finding that VR may help with many areas of medicine, including tailoring rehabilitation exercises, improving mental health, and reducing pain. In the case of movement problems, for example, rehabilitation exercises can sometimes help people train their muscles to improve their movement following a stroke, brain injury, or Parkinson's disease.

OBSSR Request for Information

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Accomplishments is developing a list of impactful public health and healthcare accomplishments that were made possible, in full or in part, as a result of behavioral and/or social sciences research. Submit a public health or healthcare accomplishment (does not have to be limited to only NIH-funded research) and comment and vote on existing submissions. Comment submission due July 31, 2019.

Calendar of Events

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Funding Announcements

Digital Health Technologies to Address the Social Determinants of Health in context of Substance Use Disorders (R41/R42 Clinical Trial Optional) (RFA-DA-20-017); (R43/R44 Clinical Trial Optional) (RFA-DA-20-018). Application due: July 29, 2019.

Rapid Assessment of Drug Abuse: Smart City Tools. (R41/R42 - Clinical Trial Optional) (RFA-DA-20-020); (R43/R44 - Clinical Trial Optional) (RFA-DA-20-021). Applications due: August 7, 2019.

The Office of Strategic Coordination invites DP5 applications for NIH Director’s Early Independence Awards (RFA-RM-19-008) to support investigators who wish to pursue independent research essentially after completion of their terminal doctoral/research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, thereby forgoing the traditional post-doctoral training period and accelerating their entry into an independent research career. Letter of intent due: August 13, 2019; applications due: September 13, 2019.

The American Psychological Foundation invites applications of its David H. And Beverly A. Barlow Grant to fund Research on Anxiety and Anxiety-Related Disorders conducted by a graduate student or early-career researcher. Application due: September 18, 2019.

NIH invites R01 applications for NIH Director’s Transformative Research Awards (RFA-RM-19-007) to fund individual scientists or groups of scientists proposing groundbreaking, exceptionally innovative, original, and/or unconventional research with the potential to create new scientific paradigms, establish entirely new and improved clinical approaches, or develop transformative technologies. Application due September 20, 2019.

Exploratory Clinical Neuroscience Research on Substance Use Disorders. (R61/R33 Clinical Trial Optional) (PAR-19-282) Application due: October 10, 2019; July 10, 2020; March 10, 2021; October 13, 2021; July 11, 2022; March 10, 2023.

PrEP for HIV Prevention among Substance Using Populations. (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) (RFA-DA-20-013). Application due: November 8, 2019.

The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (USAMRAA) invites applications for Hearing Restoration Research Program’s Focused Program Awards to support promising research that will accelerate drug discovery and therapeutic development for hearing restoration or accelerate advances in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of auditory dysfunction. Application due: November 14, 2019.

The Maryland Catalyst Fund program – formerly known as the Faculty Incentive Program – is the University of Maryland’s internal faculty research support program and a key resource in the university’s overall effort to expand its research activity, visibility and impact. The program aims to enable innovative research, to incentivize the pursuit of large, complex, and high-impact research initiatives, and to increase our competitiveness for extramural research awards.

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