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NIH Launches Competition for Innovative Neuromodulation Treatments

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   January 20, 2022

The $9.8 million Neuromod Prize is aimed at scientists, researchers and clinicians who are studying how to improve clinical outcomes through targeted treatments that adjust nerve activity to improve organ function.

The National Institutes of Health is looking for innovative treatments for stimulating the peripheral nervous system to treat diseases and improve health.

The Neuromod Prize is a $9.8 million competition aimed at scientists, researchers and clinicians who are studying how to improve clinical outcomes through neuromodulation therapies, or targeted treatments that adjust nerve activity to improve organ function. The challenge is part of the NIH’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program.

“We’re asking potential solvers to use the foundational knowledge and technologies that have come out of our SPARC program and take it to the next level with their innovative concepts and ideas,” ​​James M. Anderson, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, which oversees the NIH Common Fund, said in a press release. “This competition is an exciting opportunity to come up with tangible plans for harnessing the power of the body’s electrical system to help transform treatments for millions of people living with chronic or acute illnesses.”

According to the NIH, recent innovations in technology and an improved understanding of the relationship between the nervous system and organs and tissues have led to new treatments for a variety of health concerns. These treatments can target specific organs and functions or specific groups of organs and functions.

The competition is broken up into three phases, with only the first phase open at this time.

In phase 1, “participants will submit concept papers describing their proposed therapeutic approaches and their plans for conducting proof-of-concept studies, rationales for therapeutic use, and expectations for clinical impact.” A virtual information session is scheduled for February 7, and submissions are due by April 28.

A panel of judges will select as many as eight quarterfinalists to receive a share of the $800,000 prize pool and move on to the second phase, in which they’ll develop preclinical studies. That phase, worth up to $4 million, will take place later in 2022.

Semifinalist winners from phase 2 will move on to the third phase, with a $5 million prize, which is expected to launch in 2023. In that phase, participants will move from preclinical trials into advanced translational and clinical studies and regulatory approvals.

Eric Wicklund is the Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.


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