Neuroscience Research Activities & Resources

Through its various divisions, centers, and branches, NICHD supports and maintains several valuable research projects, databases, and banks that are useful to neuroscientists and researchers. Some of these resources include:

  • Cincinnati Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Neurodevelopment (C-Mind) Project
    This project aimed to create standardized methods for recruiting, scanning, and processing data using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) coupled with arterial spin labeling perfusion and to investigate language development and attention brain processes of typically developing children using task fMRI. General information, experiments, data, publications, and associated studies are now stored within the National Institute of Mental Health Data Archive. The C-Mind Project was led by the Pediatric Neuroimaging Research Consortium at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, in collaboration with the laboratory of Neuroimaging at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Data and Specimen Hub (DASH)
    This centralized resource allows researchers to store and access de-identified data from NICHD-funded research studies for secondary research use.
  • Echinoderm Genome Database (EchinoBase) 
    EchinoBase is designed to present the results of the genome sequencing project for the purple sea urchin. The sequences and annotations emerging from this effort are organized in a database that provides the research community access to those data not normally presented through National Center for Biotechnology Information and other large databases.
  • Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program
    Integrated data resource to explore underlying genetic etiologies that may contribute to both structural birth defects and cancer.
  • Gallus Expression in Situ Hybridization Analysis (GEISHA) 
    GEISHA is an online repository for chicken in situ hybridization information. This site presents whole mount in situ hybridization images and corresponding probe and genomic information for genes expressed in chicken embryos in Hamburger Hamilton stages 1-25 (0.5-5 days).
  • Gene Expression Database (GXD) 
    GXD collects and integrates the gene expression information in the Mouse Genome Informatics database.
  • Jackson Laboratories Cytogenetic Models Resource  
    This resource maintains and distributes chromosome aberration stocks, which provide primarily mouse models for Down syndrome research.
  • Xenbase: Xenopus Biology and Genomics Resource  
    Xenbase is an online resource for information about Xenopus biology, genomics, and the research community using this model organism.

NICHD funds several research networks and centers programs that focus on one or more areas of the neurosciences. Some of these include:

  • Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA) Activities
    NICHD leads NIH activities related to the BPCA in pursuit of the following goals: to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to perform pediatric studies to improve labeling for patented drug products used in children, and to help NIH prioritize therapeutic areas and sponsor clinical trials and other research for off-patent drug products that need further study in children. This effort includes the Pediatric Trials Network external link, which conducts pediatric clinical drug trials in a variety of therapeutic areas. The Pediatric Trials Network has a program focusing on Down syndrome external link, developed in conjunction with the INCLUDE Project, to enhance clinical trial support for medication usage in children with the condition.
  • COVID-19 Research and NICHD
    The institute is leading and participating in NIH-wide research on COVID-19 within populations of interest to NICHD, including pregnant and lactating people, children and teens, and individuals with disabilities.
  • CAPSTONE Centers for Multidisciplinary Research in Child Abuse and Neglect
    These specialized multidisciplinary research centers test the efficacy and effectiveness of clinical interventions; conduct longitudinal prospective studies examining the long term effects of specific and understudied types of maltreatment including abusive head trauma, medical child abuse and neglect; examine the neurobiology of abuse and neglect and implications for health outcomes; and test the development of screening tools and clinical assessment measures for early identification and treatment of specific types of abuse and neglect to decrease morbidity and mortality and to identify potential comorbidities.
  • Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network (CPCCRN) external link
    This multicenter program is devoted to the investigation of the safety and efficacy of treatment management strategies used for the care of critically ill and injured children. The goal of the network is to develop an infrastructure to pursue well-designed collaborative clinical trials and meaningful descriptive studies in pediatric critical care medicine. The Network’s objective is to investigate ways to reduce morbidity and mortality in pediatric critical illness and injury, and to provide a framework for the development of the scientific basis of pediatric critical care practice.
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (EKS IDDRCs)
    This program provides core infrastructure and research support for investigators with independently funded projects to understand the causes of intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as their prevention, management, and treatment through biomedical and behavioral approaches.
  • Learning Disabilities Innovation Hubs (LD Hubs) and Learning Disabilities Research Centers (LDRC) Consortium
    These complementary projects aim to address the causes, symptoms, and treatments of learning disabilities that impact reading, writing, and mathematics. The Hubs focus on understudied research areas relevant to individuals diagnosed with or at-risk for these learning disabilities, while the Consortium develops knowledge on the causes, origins, and developmental course of learning disabilities.
  • Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network 
    The MFMU Network, established in 1986, focuses on research questions in perinatology, maternal-fetal medicine, and obstetrics. It provides the infrastructure to conduct multiple, large clinical and observational studies, often simultaneously, to investigate the safety and efficacy of obstetric treatment and management strategies and reduce maternal, fetal, and infant mortality and morbidities. Network sites cover more than 160,000 deliveries a year and their racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity allows study results to be generalizable to the U.S. population. Results from MFMU Network studies have impacted clinical practice and informed recommendations by confirming treatments that prevent poor outcomes and negating ineffective, costly, and/or potentially harmful therapies.
  • Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource (MR3) Network 
    This network of centralized research infrastructure assists young faculty at the formative stage of their careers. MR3 centers provide workshops and courses, mentorship and collaborative opportunities, access to state-of-the-art facilities, and pilot grants in domains particularly relevant to rehabilitation researchers. The network offers a broad range of expertise including regenerative medicine, clinical aspects of neuromodulation, biomechanics and modelling of movement, clinical trial design, health services and analysis of large datasets, and technology assessment and product development.
  • Maternal and Pediatric Precision in Therapeutics (MPRINT) Hub
    The MPRINT Hub aims to aggregate, present, and expand the available knowledge, tools, and expertise in maternal and pediatric therapeutics to the broader research, regulatory science, and drug development communities. It will serve as a national resource for conducting and fostering therapeutics-focused research in obstetrics, lactation, and pediatrics, while also enhancing inclusion of people with disabilities.
  • Neonatal Research Network (NRN) 
    NRN was established to conduct multi-center clinical trials and observational studies in neonatal medicine to promote healthy outcomes for newborns.
  • Newborn Screening Translational Research Network (NBSTRN) 
    The mission of the NBSTRN is to improve the health outcomes of newborns with genetic or congenital disorders by means of an infrastructure that allows investigators access to robust resources for newborn screening research. The NBSTRN supports research on disorders screenable in newborns, many of which are associated with neurodevelopmental impairment.

In addition to providing primary support to several resources, NICHD also contributes to other NIH resources related to the neurosciences. These include:

  • Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study external link
    This Repository houses all data generated by the ABCD Study, the largest prospective study of brain development and child health in the United States. The ABCD Research Consortium includes a Coordinating Center, a Data Analysis, Informatics & Resource Center, and 21 research sites across the country. Researchers will track their biological and behavioral development through adolescence into young adulthood.
  • Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) Program
    This NIH-wide initiative supports large-scale multidisciplinary studies on autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), with the goal of determining the disorders' causes and potential treatments.
  • Birth Defects Initiative
    The mission of the Initiative is to capitalize on genomic and other biomedical discoveries to further understanding of the mechanisms responsible for structural birth defects. The Working Group, led by NICHD, collaborates on birth defects-related activities across NIH.
  • Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative
    The BRAIN Initiative aims to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space.
  • Centers for Collaborative Research in Fragile X
    These centers, funded by NICHD with co-funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, aim to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Fragile X syndrome (FXS) and FMR1-associated conditions. The centers are geared toward stimulating multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research, with the common goal of facilitating the translation of basic research findings from bench to bedside and bedside to community.
  • Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR) 
    CIDR provides high-quality next-generation sequencing and genotyping services, as well as statistical genetics consultation, to investigators working to discover genes that contribute to common disease.
  • Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA)
    The CTSA program creates a definable academic home for clinical and translational research. CTSA institutions work to transform the local, regional, and national environment to increase the efficiency and speed of clinical and translational research across the country.
  • Clinical Genome Resource (ClinGen) external link
    ClinGen is an NIH-funded central resource that defines the clinical relevance of genes and variants for use in precision medicine and research under the auspices of gene and variant curation expert panels. ClinGen is an approved source of valid scientific evidence to support the clinical validity of genotype-phenotype relationships in the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory review of genetic and genomic tests.
  • Developmental Genotype-Tissue Expression (dGTEx)
    The goal of dGTEx is to build a widely available resource of human developmental gene expression in different tissues, including brain, from children for use in basic and clinical research. dGTEx will also establish a tissue bank to help researchers further understand how gene expression is regulated over the course of human development from birth through adolescence. dGTEx extends the work of the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) initiative, which catalogued gene expression patterns in tissues from adults, to provide a comprehensive understanding of gene expression changes across the lifespan. Also visit external link .
  • DS Connect®: The Down Syndrome Registry
    This patient registry is a secure, web-based international resource for storing and sharing demographic and health information about individuals with Down syndrome. The registry helps identify those with Down syndrome who might be eligible to take part in research studies or clinical trials and connects them with the researchers leading those studies. DS-Connect facilitates the creation of cohorts for the INCLUDE initiative.
  • Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM (HEAL) Initiative
    Within this NIH-wide initiative, NICHD efforts are focused on understanding how opioids affect infants, children, and pregnant people and women. The institute is supporting multiple research activities related to opioids, in keeping with NIH’s overall efforts to find scientific solutions to the opioid epidemic.
  • HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study
    This study, part of the HEAL initiative, aims to help researchers understand normative childhood brain development as well as the long-term impact of prenatal and postnatal opioid and other drug and environmental exposures. The study will enroll a large number of pregnant women from U.S. areas significantly affected by the opioid crisis and follow them and their children for at least 10 years.
  • INCLUDE (INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE) project
    This NIH-wide research initiative investigates critical health and quality-of-life needs for individuals with Down syndrome. INCLUDE researchers study conditions that affect individuals with Down syndrome and the general population, such as Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, autism, cataracts, celiac disease, congenital heart disease, and diabetes.
  • International HapMap Project
    The elucidation of the entire human genome has made possible this current effort to develop a haplotype map of the human genome. The haplotype map, or "HapMap," will be a tool that will allow researchers to find genes and genetic variations that affect health and disease.
  • Knockout Mouse Phenotyping Program (KOMP2)
    KOMP2 provides broad, standardized phenotyping of a genome-wide collection of mouse knockouts generated by the International Knockout Mouse Consortium, funded by the NIH, the European Union, the Wellcome Trust, Canada, and the Texas Enterprise Fund.
  • Mammalian Gene Collection (MGC)
    The MGC provides full-length, open reading frame clones for human and mouse genes, which are available for distribution to the scientific community.
  • Model Organisms for Biomedical Research
    This website provides information about national and international activities and major resources that are being developed to facilitate biomedical research using animal models, such as Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus, mouse, and rat.
  • MRI Study of Normal Brain Development
    This multi-site longitudinal study uses technologies (e.g., anatomical MRI, diffusion-tensor imaging [DTI], and magnetic resonance spectroscopy [MRS]) to map pediatric brain development. More than 500 children, ranging from infancy to young adulthood were enrolled in the study. Clinical/behavioral assessment data and raw and volumetric brain MR data are available for download to researchers.
  • National Institute of Mental Health Data Archive (NDA)
    NDA is an NIH-supported informatics platform for data repositories that includes relevant data at all levels of biological and behavioral organization (i.e., molecules, genes, neural tissues, social and environmental interactions, etc.) and for all data types (i.e., text, numeric, image, time series, etc.). NDA was developed to share data across multiple research domains and to facilitate collaboration across laboratories and interconnectivity with other platforms. The National Database for Autism Research houses autism spectrum disorder-related data. The ABCD Data Repository houses all data generated by the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study external link, the largest prospective study of brain development and child health in the United States.
  • National Xenopus Resource Center 
    The recently established National Xenopus Resource Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, serves as a stock center for Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis by maintaining genetic stocks, providing stocks to researchers, developing new experimental tools and husbandry techniques, and meeting other needs of the Xenopus research community. The Center also serves as a training center for advanced technologies (e.g., husbandry, cell biology, imaging, genetics, transgenesis, genomics, etc.).
  • NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research
    The Blueprint is a framework to enhance cooperative activities among 15 NIH Institutes and Centers that support research on the nervous system. By pooling resources and expertise, the Blueprint can take advantage of economies of scale, confront challenges too large for any single Institute or Center, and develop research tools and infrastructure that will serve the entire neuroscience community.
  • NIH NeuroBioBank 
    This repository, funded by NICHD, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, and the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, is a centralized resource for collecting and distributing brain tissue for research. The bank serves as the single point of access for six biorepositories, including the brain and tissue bank at the University of Maryland, established and previously funded by NICHD. Biospecimens in the NeuroBioBank span neurological, neuropsychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • NIH’s Strategic Response to COVID-19
    NIH’s COVID-19 research response is helping to create safe and accurate tests, treatments, and vaccines. Learn more about the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) initiative, the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) efforts, the Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) activities external link, Return to School activities, and other efforts.
  • Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN)
    The RCDRN, composed of 19 distinct consortia, was established to stimulate natural history studies and the development of clinical interventions for rare disorders, many of which impact the nervous system. The consortia partner with patient and family groups and with industry to encourage quick translation of research results. Visit Rare Diseases Clinical Research Consortia Supported by NICHD to learn more about NICHD-funded activities.
  • Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND)
    The NIH TRND program is a congressionally mandated program designed to bridge the gap that often exists between basic research discoveries and testing of new drugs in humans. The work of the TRND includes the discovery, optimization, and preclinical testing of therapies, with the ultimate goal of generating enough sufficient-quality data to support successful investigational new drug applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and first-in-human studies (if necessary). The program aims to encourage biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to take the therapeutic clinical candidates that reach this stage into clinical development.
  • Trans-NIH Structural Birth Defects Working Group (SBDWG)
    The Trans-NIH SBDWG comprises extramural program officials from NIH components whose missions include research into structural birth defects, with the goal of facilitating advances in our understanding of the etiology, mechanisms, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of structural birth defects.
  • Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers (MDCRCs)
    The MDCRCs foster the translation of new scientific findings and technological developments into novel treatments for muscular dystrophies. MDCRCs promote basic, translational, and clinical research and provide important resources that can be used by the national muscle biology and neuromuscular research communities.
  • Xenopus Gene Collection (XGC)
    The XGC supported the production of cDNA libraries, clones, and sequences to provide a set of full-length, open reading frame sequences and cDNA clones of expressed genes for Xenopus. All resources are publicly available for the biomedical scientific community.
  • Zebrafish Gene Collection (ZGC)
    The ZGC supported the production of cDNA libraries, clones, and sequences to provide a set of full-length, open reading frame sequences and cDNA clones of expressed genes for zebrafish. All resources are publicly available for the biomedical scientific community.
  • Zebrafish International Resource Center (ZIRC) 
    One-stop resource for zebrafish wild-type and mutant strains, ESTs/cDNAs, and monoclonal antibodies. ZIRC is also a resource for animal husbandry and diagnostic pathology testing for zebrafish and medaka.

Neuroscience researchers and other scientists may find the following informational resources helpful.

  • NIH Common Fund
    Developed with input from meetings with more than 300 nationally recognized leaders in academia, industry, government, and the public, the NIH Common Fund provides a framework of the priorities NIH must address to optimize its entire research portfolio. The NIH Common Fund identifies the most compelling opportunities in three main areas: new pathways to discovery, research teams of the future, and re-engineering the clinical research enterprise.
  • NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool Expenditures and Reports (RePORTER)
    Like its predecessor CRISP, RePORTER is a database of funded projects that allows users to locate and view NIH awards using their own search criteria. RePORTER, provides detailed budget information, research results, and products, including patents and publications. Data from 1985 through to the present are available and searchable.
  • NIH Scientific Data Sharing
    NIH has a variety of sharing policies for data management, genomic data, and other policies addressing topics from model organisms to publications. This website helps visitors find out where to get help with data sharing; stay up to date on NIH data sharing policy-related statements, news, and events; and look for training opportunities. This is also where to go to learn more about the new NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy that will apply to funding applications and proposals submitted to NIH on or after January 25, 2023.
  • PhysioNet 
    PhysioNet offers free web access to large collections of recorded physiologic signals external link and related open-source software external link. The goal of the site is to promote, catalyze and perform basic-to-bedside research in complex biomedical systems by: making physiologic and clinical data available in open Internet-accessible archives; developing innovative open-source software for the exploration and analysis of physiologic data; and creating a multidisciplinary "laboratory without walls" to facilitate the discovery of basic and translational information in complex physiologic signals. By freely disseminating large and well-characterized collections of data and related software, the project aims to reduce barriers for researchers and students whose work requires these essential materials.
  • Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC)
    SPARC, a project of the NIH Common Fund, is a community resource that provides public and private research communities with the scientific foundation necessary to advance neuromodulation therapies in pursuit of precise neural control of end-organ system function to treat diseases and conditions.
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