Next Generation Networks for Neuroscience (NeuroNex)

ISSUED BY: National Science Foundation


Understanding how behavior emerges from the dynamic patterns of electrical and chemical activity of brain circuits is universally recognized as one of the great, unsolved mysteries of science. Advances in recent decades have elucidated how individual elements of the nervous system and brain relate to specific behaviors and cognitive processes. However, there remains much to discover to attain a comprehensive understanding of how the healthy brain functions, specifically, the general principles underlying how cognition and behavior relate to the brain’s structural organization and dynamic activities, how the brain interacts with its environment, and how brains maintain their functionality over time.

Achieving an understanding of brain structure and function that spans levels of organization, spatial and temporal scales, and the diversity of species requires an international, transdisciplinary collaborative effort to not only integrate discipline-specific ideas and approaches but also extend them to stimulate new discoveries, and innovative concepts, theories, and methodologies.

The objective of this phase of the NeuroNex Program is the establishment of distributed, international research networks that build on existing global investments in neurotechnologies to address overarching questions in neuroscience. The creation of such global research networks of excellence will foster international cooperation by seeding close interactions between a wide array of organizations across the world, as well as creating links and articulating alliances between multiple recently launched international brain projects. The potential transformative advances in neuroscience stemming from this activity will have profound scientific and societal impacts.

The goal of this solicitation is to support collaborative networks (approximately 15 to 20 investigators in each network) comprised of international teams of disciplinarily diverse experimentalists, theorists, and research resource (including technology and cyberinfrastructure) developers working on a common foundational question in neuroscience. It is anticipated that these international networks will enable experimentation, analysis, and discovery in neuroscience at scales much larger than currently possible.

This interdisciplinary, international program is one element of NSF’s broader effort directed at Understanding the Brain, a multi-year activity that includes NSF’s participation in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (http://www.nsf.gov/brain/) and the phased approach to develop a research infrastructure for neuroscience as outlined in the Dear Colleague Letter NSF16-047. The need for a program that helps neuroscientists collect, standardize, manage, and analyze the large amounts of data that result from research attempting to understand how the brain functions has been recognized by stakeholders in the scientific community and by the U.S. Congress in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) of 2017. The NSF and international partner agencies envision a connected portfolio of transformative, integrative projects that leverage existing global investments in neurotechnologies and create synergistic links across domestic and international investigators and communities, yielding novel ways of tackling the challenges of understanding the brain in action and in context.


  • Early Career
  • Established Investigator
  • International
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May 29, 2020


May 29, 2020