New NIH MedTech program aims to accelerate medical devices to treat, diagnose nervous system disorders

Science Highlights
September 27, 2022

Incubator hubs will provide subawards to technology innovation teams

Shades of blue design concept image of outline of head, brain and network connections
Modified iStock image

The National Institutes of Health, through its Blueprint MedTech program, has established two incubator hubs and launched a funding solicitation in support of commercially viable, clinically focused neurotechnology solutions to diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system. Blueprint MedTech relies on the collaborative framework of the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, which includes the NIH Office of the Director and 12 NIH institutes and centers that support research on the nervous system.

“We want to help fill a gap for developers whose technologies address diseases of the nervous system—a gap between knowing that the science is mature enough and having an approved device that will help people,” said Michael Wolfson, Ph.D., program director with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and for the Blueprint MedTech program. “We offer a different way of funding technology development built on lessons learned from the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative and other innovative NIH programs.” He noted that this technology development sector has signaled readiness for innovations in areas such as stroke, epilepsy, pain, cognitive impairment, nerve and brain injury, motor impairment, as well as mental health, vision, sleep and neonatal conditions.

Two incubator hubs for the program—the Center for Innovative NeuroTech Advancement [link] (CINTA) and NeuroTech Harbor (NTH)—competed successfully to become technology accelerators for the program. CINTA is a component of the Consortia for Improving Medicine with Innovation and Technology (CIMIT), a network of academic and medical institutions, based in Boston. NTH is a collaboration among scientists, engineers, and clinicians from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and Howard University, Washington, D.C.

CINTA and NTH have launched a funding opportunity  on behalf of the NIH program. This program will catalyze the translation of novel neurotechnologies from early-stage development to first-in-human clinical studies.  Funding would cover up to $500,000 in direct costs per year for up to four years. In addition to funding, the selected teams will receive ongoing, specialized support from mentors experienced in commercializing neurotech devices. CINTA and NTH will choose up to eight teams, with two yearly selection cycles. The program seeks to increase the participation of applicants from underrepresented minorities and groups including women, Black, Latin X, and communities of color. The solicitation for pre-proposal applications is open between September 27 and October 24, 2022. Following review of the pre-proposals a subset of applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal.

This program is supported by NIH grants U54EB033650 to CINTA and U54EB033664 to NTH. 

About Blueprint MedTech: Blueprint MedTech is an NIH incubator that aims to address challenges that innovators contend with in the process of developing cutting-edge medical devices to diagnose and/or treat disorders of the nervous system. It is a constituent program of the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, a cooperative effort among the NIH Office of the Director and 12 of the NIH Institutes and Centers that support research on the nervous system. By pooling resources and expertise, the Blueprint supports transformative neuroscience research, and the development of new tools, training opportunities, and other resources to assist neuroscientists.