All organs in the body are innervated by nerves, which carry information to and from the organ and modulate the organ’s function. Methods and medical devices that modulate these nerve signals are a potentially powerful way to treat many diseases and conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, gastrointestinal disorders, type II diabetes, inflammatory disorders, and more. The Common Fund’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program aims to transform our understanding of these nerve-organ interactions and ultimately advance the neuromodulation field towards precise treatment of diseases and conditions for which conventional therapies fall short.
For more information, visit the SPARC page on the NIH Common Fund website.
NIBIB maintains an active role in SPARC, overseeing two of the four components of the program:
Next-generation Tools and Technologies [Michael Wolfson, Ph.D. & Andrew Weitz, Ph.D.]
This component supports development of tools and technologies to facilitate the progress of anatomical and functional mapping studies conducted within the program. A wide range of new capabilities are being developed, harnessing the fields of photonics, systems engineering, virology and genomics, device design and manufacture, surface chemistry, tissue engineering, neural interfacing, biomarker sensing, and more.
Data and Resource Center [Andrew Weitz, Ph.D.]
This component serves as a hub for the research, engineering, and clinical components of SPARC by disseminating raw and analyzed data, functional maps, and models generated by SPARC investigators. The Data and Resource Center is designed to host an interactive atlas of human and selected animal peripheral nervous systems, spanning from the end organs under study in SPARC to potential neuromodulation intervention points.
The NIBIB Director, Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D. and Jill Heemskerk, Ph.D., the Deputy Director of NIBIB, both serve as Co-Chairs of the SPARC program.