NICHD Priorities for the SBIR/STTR Programs

The NICHD is interested in SBIR/STTR activities that help to fulfill its mission. Specific Branch priorities are explained below. You can also review the full Omnibus Solicitation (PDF - 2.1 MB) for more information; NICHD-specific information begins on page 53.

The CDBB encourages developmentally sensitive evidence-based small business initiatives that develop technology and products addressing the psychological, social and emotional, psychobiological, language, numerical, literacy, cognitive and intellectual development and health of persons from infancy to maturity. Products that exploit electronic and mobile technologies in order to encourage healthy development and/or our understanding of the influences of context and/or behavior on development are especially encouraged.

Foci of specific interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Intervention programs for social-emotional health and skill development in children, intervention programs for the prevention of child abuse and neglect in at-risk populations, Web-based training programs to enhance parenting skills, novel technologies related to the assessment of emotion, or new tools or methods to enhance the study of human-animal interactions
  • Tools for functional assessment of brain processes in young children, new approaches for quantification of behavior with animal models, and tools for facilitating memory and learning in children and adolescents
  • Innovative technologies, devices, and programs that address behavioral and developmental aspects of health risk behaviors and health promotion from infancy to young adulthood. It encourages research that will promote health and healthy behaviors such as sleep, eating habits, physical activity, prosocial behaviors, academic achievement, literacy, medical care, adherence to medication and to medical advice, and/or reduce pain, obesity, sedentary behavior, risky behaviors (i.e., sex, substance abuse, unsafe driving) from infancy to young adulthood
  • Tools to address reading, writing, and related learning disabilities such as assistive technologies, interactive technologies for use by children, adolescent or adult struggling learners as well as technologies for instructors, parents and/or caregivers for use within or outside of the classroom context, as appropriate
  • Assistive technologies or interactive technologies for use by at-risk or struggling primary- and/or second-language learners (of any age cohort from birth through young adulthood) in any context
  • Development and testing of new technology-based interventions and learning tools whose primary focus is the promotion of early learning and the development of school readiness skills and abilities, including those designed to target specific subpopulations of children and their families (e.g., English-Language Learners)
  • Innovative technology-based methods and assessments for measuring early learning and school readiness skills and abilities and measures of home, child care and preschool environments and practices that are related to child learning and development
  • Innovative technologies that address behavioral and developmental aspects of mathematical thinking and problem solving; scientific reasoning, learning, and discovery
  • Assistive or instructional technologies for use by at-risk or struggling learners of any age cohort from birth through young adulthood in any context (e.g., home, school, work) where improved learning, understanding and/or reasoning is needed

Program Officer:
Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke

The CRB emphasizes developing new and improved methods of fertility regulation as well as research on the benefits and risks of contraceptive drugs, devices, and surgical procedures. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of new and improved methods of fertility regulation, for men and women, that are safe, effective, inexpensive, reversible and acceptable
  • Validation and characterization of targets whose modulation may be contraceptive
  • Synthesis and testing of novel chemical compounds that are potential contraceptives
  • Studies relating contraception to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, including but not limited to development of new contraceptive products combined with products with microbicidal activity against STDs such as HIV
  • Studies to clarify the mechanism of interaction between contraception and other disease processes or conditions
  • Small molecule lead discovery through screening targeted and natural product compound libraries on validated male and female contraceptive targets
  • Screening non-traditional sources of natural products on validated male and female contraceptive targets
  • Medicinal chemistry component in support of drug design and synthesis on validated male and female contraceptive targets
  • Integrated computational/modeling, fragment library screening, structure biology, medicinal chemistry and biological screening infrastructures for structure-based drug discovery
  • Discovery and validation of male and female specific targets involved in control of fertility through research on the processes of spermatogenesis, follicular development, ovulation, or fertilization

Program Officer:
Dr. Steven Kaufman

The DBSVB is interested in biomedical research on the cellular, molecular, and genetic aspects of normal and aberrant embryonic and fetal development, including early embryogenesis, organogenesis, limb regeneration, and other topics, as well as related topics on regeneration (e.g., limb, central nervous system, etc.) and regenerative medicine. Areas of interest for small business include, but are not limited to:

  • Development and application of new animal model systems
  • In vivo techniques for optical imaging and quantitative measurement of physical properties of cells/tissues
  • Innovative technologies for imaging developmental processes and gene expression
  • Innovative and high throughput genomic and proteomic techniques
  • Technologies to facilitate and advance systems biology approaches to the study of embryonic development and structural birth defects, or regeneration
  • In vivo techniques for optical imaging and quantitative measurement of physical properties of cells/tissues
  • Innovative technologies to facilitate and advance high throughput plating of zebrafish embryos, larva, and adults to facilitate chemical screening
  • Software development to facilitate the collection and analyses of data generated through the use of high throughput screening platforms using zebrafish embryos, larva, and adults
  • Technologies/methodologies to generate and software to mine data related to wound healing and regenerative responses across animal species
  • Technologies for induced pluripotent stem cell-based regenerative medicine
  • Development of novel ligands, promoters and other probes that can facilitate regenerative mechanisms

Program Officer:
Dr. Mahua Mukhopadhyay

The FI Branch studies the reproductive processes of men and women and of animals with similar reproductive systems related to developing safer and more effective means of regulating, preserving, or achieving fertility. Particular areas of programmatic interest relative to small business initiatives include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of reagents to facilitate study of reproductive and developmental processes
  • Development of improved methods of growing and differentiating stem cell lines in vitro, including feeder cell-free approaches
  • Development of novel assays, kits, and devices to monitor fertility and treat infertility and gynecological disorders
  • Use of genomics and proteomics to develop novel diagnostics and treatments for reproductive diseases and disorders
  • Development of high resolution technologies to provide invasive or noninvasive assessments of reproductive and developmental competence
  • Development of experimental animal models that would be useful for studying the physiology and pathophysiology of reproductive processes
  • Development of improved and novel technologies for the preservation of human gametes
  • Development of improved technologies for preimplantation genetic diagnosis
  • Development of improved technologies for the reprogramming of cells, including embryonic stem cells or adult cells, into eggs and sperm

Program Officer:
Dr. Ravi Ravindranath

The GHDB's emphasis is on biomedical research on gynecologic health issues in women and adolescent girls. Areas of research include pelvic floor disorders, the menstrual cycle, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, perimenopause/menopause, chronic pelvic pain, vulvodynia and dysmenorrhea. Within the context of small business, areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing new and improved diagnostic approaches and treatments for female pelvic floor disorders, including drugs, graft materials, and devices used for non-surgical and surgical treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and other female pelvic floor disorders
  • Development of new diagnostic approaches and treatments for uterine fibroids, endometriosis, abnormalities of the menstrual cycle and symptoms associated with the perimenopause/menopausal transition
  • Research on mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic pain disorders including chronic pelvic pain, vulvodynia, and dysmenorrhea

Program Officer:
Dr. Lisa Halvorson

The IDDB sponsors research aimed at preventing, diagnosing, and ameliorating intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including common and rare neuromuscular and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Down, Fragile X, and Rett syndromes, mitochondrial conditions, inborn errors of metabolism, autism spectrum disorders, and others. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Understanding the etiology and pathophysiology of abnormal nervous system development
  • Delineating genetic, genomic, and epigenetic bases of IDD
  • Examining the screening, diagnosis, treatment, and management of IDD and other conditions identified by newborn screening or other screening methods
  • Promoting multidisciplinary and translational research in IDD through programs that integrate basic and applied research, training, and service activities
  • Advancing efforts toward the prevention and diagnosis of IDD as well as early intervention and treatment for these conditions

Program Officer:
Dr. Dantua Krotoski

The MPIDB emphasizes domestic and international research on HIV/AIDS and related infections (such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, and malaria) in women of child bearing age, pregnant women, mothers, fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents. Additional areas of interest include:

  • New technologies relevant to resource-limited countries for:
    • Diagnosis of HIV infection and other infectious diseases in infants
    • Diagnosis and treatment of HIV-related complications of HIV (e.g., diagnosis of tuberculosis in children)
    • Simple and less technical point of care assays to monitor CD4 cell percentage/count, HIV viral load, or other surrogate markers of HIV disease progression in children
  • Drug formulations for antiretroviral drugs and/or drugs used to treat complications of HIV infection such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, and malaria relevant to children (preferably not liquid preparations), particularly in resource-limited countries and including fixed-dose drug formulations and innovative methodologies for development of solid formulations capable of being administered to young children (e.g., sustained release beads, etc.)
  • Innovative long-lasting drug formulations for antiretroviral and other anti-infective drugs that would allow less frequent drug administration (e.g., once daily, weekly, or monthly)
  • Simple, standardized tools to evaluate neurodevelopmental outcome in children in resource-limited settings
  • Biomedical modalities, including vaccines, to prevent acquisition of HIV and other infectious diseases in children, adolescents, and women
  • Topical microbicide agents to prevent sexual acquisition of HIV and other STDs in women or in adolescents
  • New, non-invasive technologies to evaluate complications of antiretroviral drugs in HIV-infected infants, children, and adolescents (e.g., mitochondrial toxicity) and in pregnant women and their fetuses

Program Officer:
Dr. Sonia Lee

The OPPTB promotes research to improve the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals and to ensure centralization and coordination of research, clinical trials, and drug development activities for obstetric and pediatric populations. This includes developing and supporting a comprehensive national effort to increase the knowledge base for understanding how to appropriately treat disease during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood using pharmaceuticals that are appropriately tested within their target populations. Applications to advance the study of obstetric and pediatric pharmacology include:

  • Research and tools to better characterize the impact of physiological and developmental changes on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics
  • Advancements in pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics modeling, which improve therapy during pregnancy, among premature infants, children, and adolescents
  • Research on devices to monitor the state of various organ systems during therapy in pregnancy or infancy
  • Development of non-invasive devices for evaluating adherence to chronic therapy in life-threatening conditions (e.g., HIV, diabetes, asthma, liver and kidney transplantation)
  • Development of novel approaches for oral mucosal, transdermal, nasal, ocular, and pulmonary drug delivery systems and device technologies
  • Use of a materials science approach to overcome solubility limitations of pediatric drugs, increase bioavailability, decrease excipient exposure, and provide effective taste masking
  • Development of nanosized formulations to optimize efficacy and minimize toxicity of pediatric drugs
  • Identification of targets for pregnancy associated/induced diseases that can lead to the development of new targeted therapeutics for diseases like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm labor

Program Officer:
Dr. Katerina Tsilou

The PGNB supports research designed to lay the groundwork for future health so that children can achieve their full potential for growth and development. The PGNB encourages research that focuses on detecting the earliest aberrations in molecular and biochemical pathways that lead to disease later in life. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical growth, body composition, bone health, nutrition, and obesity
  • Determinants of normal bone mineral accretion and peak bone mass. Interactions of muscle and bone during infancy and childhood
  • Neuroendocrinology of puberty, linear growth, obesity, and malnutrition
  • Prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndrome
  • Genetic and molecular mechanisms of obesity, psychosocial risks of obesity, and therapeutic interventions for obesity
  • Mechanisms of hormone action during linear growth, pubertal maturation, and other aspects of development
  • Novel approaches to type 1 diabetes management and treatment, especially related to the development of the artificial pancreas
  • Technological innovations/inventions to diagnose and monitor diabetes
  • Nutritional requirements during pregnancy
  • Aspects of nutrients related to growth and disease prevention during infancy and childhood
  • Training of the next generation of pediatrician scientists

Program Officer:
Dr. Gilman D. Grave

The PTCIB develops and supports research and research training in pediatric trauma and critical illness; investigates the continuum of psychosocial, behavioral, and physiological influences that impact child health outcomes in trauma, injury, and acute care; investigates the short- and long-term impacts of acute traumatic experiences; develops research linking pediatric emergency and critical care medicine and science to the epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of childhood physical disabilities; and supports research on prevention, treatment, management, and outcomes of physical and psychological trauma and the interventions needed to improve outcomes for critically ill and injured children across the developmental trajectory. Applications of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Research and development on pediatric-specific technologies and equipment used by emergency and trauma care personnel
  • Development of tools and technologies for efficient screening and determination of the nature of injury, bruising related to forms of child maltreatment
  • Research and development of devices and innovative therapeutic technologies for management of physical disabilities and related problems stemming from and acute injuries
  • Development of preventive intervention tools, materials, and technologies designed to improve clinical practice, parenting and social system support for injured children and children exposed to violence

Program Officer:
Dr. Valerie Maholmes

The PDB supports research and research training in: demography (study of human populations, including fertility, mortality and morbidity, migration, the causes and consequences of demographic change, etc.); reproductive health (behavioral and social science research on STDs, HIV/AIDS, family planning, etc.); and population health (human health, productivity, behavior, and development at the population level). For small businesses, applications are encouraged in, but are not limited to these areas:

  • Technological innovations or inventions to improve collection of biomarker data in large population-representative surveys
  • Hardware or software to improve collection of accurate cause of death information or health diagnosis in large population-representative surveys or in administrative data sets
  • Methods for integrating geographical information systems, spatial network analysis, and/or simulation methods for demographic research
  • Methods for improving collection, documentation, archiving, and dissemination of population representative data sets, including especially data sets that are complex, multilevel or multimodal
  • Methods for protecting and assuring confidentiality for human subjects when collecting, archiving, or disseminating population-representative data sets, especially data sets that are longitudinal or that include both spatial and individual-level data
  • Methods for reducing cost of collecting and disseminating large population-representative data sets
  • Development of effective tools for prevention research and intervention programs related to STD/HIV, pregnancy, divorce, child health, at risk youth, and other health-related topics
  • Innovative approaches to teaching population studies and other behavioral and social sciences at the undergraduate and graduate level
  • Innovative approaches for research design, data collection techniques, measurement, and data analysis techniques in the social and behavioral sciences, with particular attention to methodology and measurement issues in studying diverse populations, sensitive behaviors, confidential behaviors; in issues related to the protection of research subjects; and in issues related to the archiving and disseminating complex datasets

Program Officer:
Dr. Juanita Chinn

The PPB supports research in the following areas: the physiology of pregnancy and labor; high-risk pregnancies; fetal pathophysiology; premature labor and birth; devices and instruments for newborns in the nursery and in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU); routine and extended care of newborns; products and agents related to breastfeeding; supplies specifically used in the care of newborns; nanotechnology and its application for the care of newborns; instruments and devices assessing and monitoring the nursery environment (noise, lighting, and odor); disorders of the newborn; sudden infant death syndrome; and biological and behavioral antecedents of low birth weight. The following topic areas are of high priority:

Neonatal:

  • Non-invasive methods for assessing cardiovascular and pulmonary functions, including cardiac output, systemic blood pressure, airway resistance, pulmonary compliance, vital capacity, and various lung volumes
  • Metabolic profile assessment using non-invasive or minimally invasive approaches, including measurement of glucose and lactate/pyruvate; assessing ketone body measurements; free indirect bilirubin (unconjugated, free indirect); major chemicals (Na+ Ca+ Cl+ K+ etc.) in the blood
  • Improved point-of-care methods to measure plasma glucose concentrations quickly and accurately
  • Devices, instruments, and tools to minimize bacterial colonization, reduce proclivity for thrombous formation, and reduce health-care associated infection risks
  • Rapid methods for diagnosis of bacterial infections and inflammation
  • Non-invasive measures to assess brain energy utilization, especially glucose, oxygen, lactate, ketones, and other energy substrates
  • Innovative ideas to reduce stress for the staff, parents, and infants in the NICU

Perinatal:

  • Non-invasive (or minimally invasive) methods to assess fetal well-being
  • Non-invasive (or minimally invasive) methods to assess placental anatomy, physiology, and function
  • Methods to predict spontaneous preterm birth
  • Methods to predict preeclampsia

Program Officer:
Dr. Tonse Raju

The NCMRR supports innovative research on the restoration, replacement, enhancement, or adaptation of function for people with chronic physical disabilities. This activity includes rehabilitative approaches across etiologies and the lifespan, as well as the environmental and other factors that promote full participation. We encourage studies that integrate biomedical, engineering, and/or psychosocial approaches to develop practical and creative solutions to the daily functioning of people with disabilities and their families. Learn more about the NCMRR mission and its specific program areas. Examples of small business related projects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Systems Science: Developing methodologies/models for data to address the health trajectories from pathophysiology to participation in the rehabilitation process, and utilizing methodology to understand whole-body system responses to physical impairments and functional changes
  • Neuroplasticity: Developing non-invasive and surrogate measures of neuroplasticity that would be appropriate for use in a clinical setting to monitor rehabilitation treatment effectiveness
  • Rehabilitation Interventions: Developing virtual reality, simulations, e-health, and other approaches to promote participation, understand and support healthy behaviors, reduce health disparities and enhance clinical compliance especially in children with disabilities
  • Rehabilitation in the Community: Creating strategies to build or modify community resources that provide effective rehabilitation and health promotion services within the individual's own community
  • Novel Technology: Using nanomaterials, biomarkers, imaging, and robotics to improve rehabilitation treatment for restoration of function, and developing techniques to improve/maximize parameters for transcranial magnetic stimulation

Investigators proposing budgets exceeding the guidelines are encouraged to contact program staff 6 weeks prior to submitting the application.

Program Officer:
Louis A. Quatrano, Ph.D.

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