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NCCIH Research Blog

Music and Health Research: NIH Funds Available To Build Capacity

October 28, 2020

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.


Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

We are now beginning to witness and participate in a growing field of research at the intersection of music, science, technology, and health. While scientific research on the effects of music on health and the clinical discipline of music therapy have been with us for years, research in these areas has accelerated over the past few years. Because of the complexity of researching music-based interventions, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is encouraging interdisciplinary research collaborations among basic research scientists, translational researchers, clinical trialists, neuroscientists, music health professionals, musicians, neurologists, and/or technology development researchers.

Some current research questions are:

  • What are the biological and psychological mechanisms underlying the effects of music on people when they are healthy or ill?
  • How can we take advantage of recent advances in technology to increase this knowledge and develop interventions that draw on music’s capacity to promote well-being and heal?
  • Where are the best opportunities for evidence-based music interventions?

Several NIH institutes and centers (ICs) are partnering to reissue funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) on music and health. These are being funded under NIH’s Sound Health initiative, launched in 2016, and co-funded by NIH and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts

On July 15, we released PAR-20-266 Promoting Research on Music and Health: Phased Innovation Award for Music Interventions (R61/R33 Clinical Trial Optional). The goal is to develop innovative music interventions aimed at understanding mechanisms of action and clinical applications of music interventions in medical treatment. Proposed projects should fit with a milestone-driven approach. Little or no preliminary data are required for the R61 phase, but milestones will need to be met to transition to an R33 phase.

On August 19, NIH published notices on two forthcoming FOAs:

  • NOT-NS-20-096 Notice of Intent to Publish Funding Opportunity Announcements for Music and Health: Understanding and Developing Music Medicine (R01).
  • NOT-NS-20-100 Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Music and Health: Understanding and Developing Music Medicine (R21). This FOA will have a similar therapeutic focus but will emphasize exploratory projects that may be more high risk and high reward.

These funding opportunities are designed to offer sustained financial support over several years, which we think is the best approach to build substantial capacity in the field.

I hope you are intrigued and will consider applying for these NIH funding opportunities as we explore new research questions about music and health.


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