The Blueprint is a collaborative framework that includes the NIH Office of the Director and the 14 NIH Institutes and Centers that support research on the nervous system. By pooling resources and expertise, the Blueprint identifies cross-cutting areas
of research, and confronts challenges too large for any single Institute or Center.
The Blueprint makes collaboration a day-to-day part of how the NIH does business in neuroscience, complementing the basic
missions of Blueprint partners. During each fiscal year, the partners contribute a small percentage of their funds to a common
pool. Since the Blueprint's inception in 2004, this pool has comprised less than 1 percent of the total neuroscience research
budget of the partners.
Blueprint Grand Challenges
In 2009, the Blueprint Grand Challenges were launched to catalyze research with the potential to transform our basic understanding
of the brain and our approaches to treating brain disorders.
- The Human Connectome Project is an effort to map the connections within the healthy brain. It is expected to help answer questions about how genes influence
brain connectivity, and how this in turn relates to mood, personality and behavior. The investigators will collect brain imaging
data, plus genetic and behavioral data from 1,200 adults. They are working to optimize brain imaging techniques to see the
brain's wiring in unprecedented detail.
- The Grand Challenge on Pain supports research to understand the changes in the nervous system that cause acute, temporary pain to become chronic. The
initiative is supporting multi-investigator projects to partner researchers in the pain field with researchers in the neuroplasticity
- The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network is helping small labs develop new drugs for nervous system disorders. The Network provides research funding, plus access
to millions of dollars worth of services and expertise to assist in every step of the drug development process, from laboratory
studies to preparation for clinical trials. Project teams across the U.S. have received funding to pursue drugs for conditions
from vision loss to neurodegenerative disease to depression.
Since its inception in 2004, the Blueprint has supported the development of new resources, tools and opportunities for neuroscientists.
For example, the Blueprint supports several training programs to help students pursue interdisciplinary areas of neuroscience, and to bring students from underrepresented groups into
the neurosciences. The Blueprint also funds efforts to develop new approaches to teaching neuroscience through K-12 instruction, museum exhibits and web-based platforms. From fiscal years 2007 to 2009, the Blueprint focused
on three major themes of neuroscience - neurodegeneration, neurodevelopment, and neuroplasticity. These efforts enabled unique funding opportunities and training
programs, and helped establish new resources including the Blueprint Non-Human Primate Brain Atlas. Other resources supported by the Blueprint include:
Further information about the Blueprint's history and goals is available in a 2006 article in the Journal of Neuroscience.