Instrumentation Development and Engineering Application Solutions (IDEAS)


Four images, the first is an image of red laser tweezers on a green background, the second is an infrared image of a mouse, the third is an image of small glass vials in a pyramid shape, and the fourth is an image of a red and green circuit board.

The Instrumentation Development and Engineering Application Solutions (IDEAS) (formerly the Signal Processing and Instrumentation Section (SPIS)) provides the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) with electrical, electronic, electro-optical, biomedical, mechanical, computer, and software engineering expertise for projects that require technology development of novel biomedical laboratory and clinical research enabling systems, instrumentation, and methodologies. As the central, on-campus, engineering resource within the IRP, the broad range of IDEAS engineering knowledge and experience establishes a strong infrastructure fostering interdisciplinary, multi-investigator, cross-Institute technology incubators and high-risk high-reward research.

    A computer generated diagram of a mechanical device

    Our Capabilities

    We provide the NIH IRP with engineering expertise for biomedical and clinical research driven technology development. The majority of IDEAS activities require first-of-a-kind instrumentation design, software development (both for instrument control and signal analysis), in-house fabrication, and overall collaborative validation in laboratories and clinics. 

    Image of a gloved hand pushing a syringe into a clear tube connect to tissue on blue tray

    What We Do

    With more than 40 active projects, IDEAS has collaborated with 18 NIH Institutes and Centers on technology and methodology development projects.  These collaborations support NIH research initiatives, including: systems biology, genomics, proteomics, bioimaging, precision medicine, brain, and neuroscience. In-house capabilities and accomplishments have established IDEAS as an engineering focal point that facilitates science through successive iterations of theory development, experimentation, and design innovation.

    Image of microscope next to a computer with a purple background


    See a list of publications authored by IDEAS researchers and collaborators and featuring IDEAS developed technologies.  

    Mentoring @ IDEAS

    IDEAS is committed to strongly supporting NIH mentoring initiatives by hosting summer and year-round interns.

    See a list of current trainees, photos of current and past trainees, and link to projects. View all trainees

    Interns assist in the design and development of advanced biomedical instrumentation used in research projects within the NIH IRP. 

    Technology Transfer

    With collaborators, IDEAS contributes to NIH Office of Technology Transfer activities via many mechanisms, including:

    • Patents
    • Licensing
    • Open-source distribution
    • CRADA - Cooperative Research and Development Agreements
    • MTA - Material Transfer Agreement
    • CDA - Confidential Disclousre Agreement
    • Instrument duplication giving access to additional IRP investigators
    • IRP developed technology duplication and support at offsite research centers