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NCCIH SBIR and STTR Research Priorities

The mission of NCCIH is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care. The following narrative indicates the scope of projects suitable for the SBIR/STTR program that fit within the mission of NCCIH.

For additional information about areas of interest to NCCIH, please see the examples below, which were taken primarily from PHS 2020-2 SBIR/STTR Program Descriptions and Research Topics for NIH, CDC, and FDA (search the text for “NCCIH”) and NIH SBA-Approved SBIR/STTR Topics for Awards Over Statutory Budget Limitations

Examples of Topics

Natural Products (including botanicals, herbs, probiotics, prebiotics, dietary supplements, special medicinal diets, and microbiome-/microbial-based therapeutics):

  • Development and validation of technologies for standardization and characterization of biologically active ingredients in natural products.
  • Development and validation of technologies for taxonomic identification of botanical raw materials or detection of adulterants.
  • Development and validation of technologies for the identification and characterization of bioactive metabolites derived from oral consumption of natural products.
  • Development and validation of methods for the sustainable production of low-yield natural products of commercial interest.
  • Development of novel analytical tools and technologies to study the microbiome, including its composition, genetics, and bioactivity, that can help clarify associations between the human microbiome and brain function and health.
  • Development of gut microbiome monitoring assays for validating safety and functional analysis of genomic and microbiota interactions.
  • Development of complementary and integrative therapeutic approaches to modify and balance the gut microbiota in healthy populations and individuals with disrupted microbiota and related diseases.
  • Clinical testing of natural products for the management of hard-to-treat symptoms such as pain, sleep disorders, or mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression to allow development of an evidence base that would accelerate U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a drug indication for the natural product.

Mind and Body Approaches (including meditation, mindfulness, hypnosis, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, manual therapies, and music/art therapies

  • Development, testing, and validation of appropriate objective and/or quantitative measures and instruments to assess or monitor mind and body approaches in different contexts (e.g., classrooms, families, child welfare, juvenile justice systems).
  • Development, testing, and validation of measures and tools to assess training or fidelity of implementation of mind and body approaches in different settings (e.g., health care, community, families, schools, child welfare, juvenile justice systems).
  • Development and testing of technologies for the implementation of mind and body approaches in group or individual settings and/or self-care strategies. Examples may include but are not limited to the use of mobile health technologies such as smartphone apps, sensors, online delivery, or phone-based delivery.
  • Development and validation of methods for standardization and characterization of the active components of mind and body approaches.
  • Development and validation of methods for standardization of multimodal interventions to study whole person health.
  • Development and validation of imaging tools or instruments for studying manual therapies, including but not limited to massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation.
  • Development and testing of innovative technologies for multisensory delivery of mind and body approaches.
  • Development, testing, and validation of innovative technologies to enhance sensory-based (temperature, light, olfaction, etc.) therapies.
  • Development, testing, and validation of innovative technologies to facilitate delivery of music/art-based interventions and to identify novel outcome measures and biomarkers for these interventions.

General Tool/Technology Development:

  • Development and validation of biomarkers that correlate with efficacy of complementary and integrative health approaches.
  • Development and validation of standardized, reliable, and cost-effective tools that correlate with brain imaging in response to mind and body interventions.
  • Development and validation of tools, technologies, and instruments, including gaming and virtual reality technologies, for the accurate assessment of adherence and/or fidelity to the use of mind and body practices and interventions.
  • Development and validation of tools to improve patient-reported outcome measures of importance in clinical studies of complementary and integrative health approaches.
  • Development, pilot testing, and validation of wireless technologies for real-time data collection and monitoring of brain activity or other physiological signals for mind and body approaches.
  • Development or adaptation of biochemical or epigenetic monitoring devices for complementary and integrative health approaches.
  • Development and validation of tools to improve biological and physiological outcome measures for use in clinical studies of complementary or integrative health approaches.
  • Development or adaptation of technologies for objective assessment of pain with relevance to complementary and integrative health approaches.
  • Development of sleep monitoring technologies or biomarker panels to assess sleep deprivation, sleep deficiency, circadian rhythm dysregulation, and connection of sleep disturbances with health risks.
  • Development and testing of in vivo labeling technology of tissues or cells responsible for generating signals in response to different internal senses (e.g., mechanical force, temperature, osmolarity, oxygen levels).
  • Development and testing of technology or methods for quantifying biomechanical forces applied to internal tissues or cells.
  • Development and testing of mobile health technology or nonmobile technology and methods to monitor or quantify physical and/or emotional well-being, breathing, or sleep.

For information regarding FDA approval of a drug indication for a natural product, please see the FDA website for the Investigational New Drug (IND) or Device Exemption (IDE) Process (CBER).