About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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Brain Waves

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November 17, 2003

NBIC: Neurotechnology Research Grants

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Posted by Zack Lynch

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced additional funding for the neurotechnology research, development and enhancement program.

As I have written previously, neurotechnology is being driven by the convergence of advances in Nanotechnology, Information Technology, Biotechnology and Cognitive Science (NBIC -- pronounced N-bic). Mike Roco, the man who has spear headed the National Nanotechnology Initiative over the past decade, is now targeting the NSF's attention on creating a similiar initiative to understand how NBIC technologies will create new tools to enhance human performance.

I have grouped the examples used in the Neurotechnology Program Announcement into their respective technology sector to show that all four of these areas are required for neurotechnology to fully develop. I have also tried to find links to relatively close examples of each technology for those who wish dive deeper. (Many of these technologies could fall into multiple categories. For example, drug delivery systems are likely to require nanobiotechnology for significant breakthroughs to emerge.)

Neurotechnology Program Research Objectives

This program seeks to enable neuroscience and behavioral research by soliciting research and development of novel tools and approaches for the study of the development, structure, and function of the brain. Technologies that are appropriate include: hardware, software, and wetware (and combinations of thereof) that would be used to study the brain or behavior in basic or clinical research.

1. Nanocrystals or quantum dots covalently bonded to neural receptor ligands
2. Microfluidic systems for in-vivo spatial and temporal delivery of biomolecules
3. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) used for monitoring neurons
4. Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) used for monitoring neurons
5. Amplifiers for mice to record neural activity from many neurons
6. Non-invasive optical imaging instruments
7. Tools for detection of acute neurological events
8. Improved electrodes, microcomputer interfaces, and microcircuitry

Information Technology
1. Software to translate neuroimaging data from one data format into another
2. Algorithms for understanding human neuroimaging data
3. Tools for real-time analysis of neurophysiological events
4. Dynamic monitors of intracranial pressure and spinal fluid composition
5. Devices for non-invasive diagnosis and precise identification of pathogens
6. Tools, technologies and algorithms for neuroprosthesis development
7. Non-invasive tools to assess damage, monitor function in brain tissue
8. Tools for data mining into genomics and proteomics of the nervous system

1. Proteome analysis arrays, proteome data storage, analysis of proteome data
2. Genetic approaches to study structure or function of neural circuits in animals
3. Biosensors that would be selectively activated by neurochemicals
4. Delivery systems for drugs, gene transfer vectors, and cells
5. Probes of brain gene expression that can be imaged non-invasively
6. Genetic approaches to manipulate or monitor synaptic activity
7. Tools for intervention and prevention of acute neurological events

Cognitive Science
1. Non-invasive methods for in-vivo tracking of implanted cells
2. Tools to enhance visualization of specific brain markers
3. New methods to study neural connectivity in living or post mortem brain,
4. Tools for early-warning detection of imminent seizure activity
5. Methods to facilitate high-throughput analysis of behavior
6. Tools for therapeutic electrical stimulation for rehabilitation

Just as previous techno-economic waves have been driven by the convergence of multiple technologies from different sectors, so too will the neurotechnology wave. To understand how our emerging neurosociety may take shape, it is critical to understand how the NBIC convergence will drive the neurotechnology wave.

All thoughts and comments welcome. If there is a request I will start a NBIC wiki for those who are interested.

Comments (3) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05


1. coolmel on November 17, 2003 10:44 AM writes...


as always the information you post on this blogsite are link heavens. however, in the future, i would like to see research not only one the hardware/wetware but also on the subjectivewares/consciousnesswares/innerspace
which are being manipulated by these neurotech physical devices.

and yes, i like to have a NBIC wiki.

thanks again for putting up excellent content.

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2. alfred on November 17, 2003 7:04 PM writes...


I spent the last 4 hours visiting your web/blog site, following links, and ordering books. I can see where you're coming from with the intergral aspect you request from Zack.

My own interest stems from a natural/herbal neuropharma involvment. And I'd like lots of reference and links in that direction as well.

But...What we've got is a wonderful source of current and relevent information from highly educated and intelegent minds open to amazing possibilities for the future. This information is an intergration of all neurotechnology knowledge to be found on the web.

I haven't found a better source. Or any other blog, portal, or web-site even close.

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3. coolmel on November 18, 2003 8:45 AM writes...

i couldn't agree more. that's why i joined this wonderful blogsite--to keep my perspectives in balance. and i couldn't thank Zack enough for his efforts.

thank you alfred for stopping by.

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