An animation of the brain with environment-themed icons.

NIH Funds Collaborative Research in Brain and Nervous Systems Disorders

Understanding and reducing the effects of environmental factors involved in brain diseases and disorders has been a long-standing focus of the National Institutes of Health.  The Global Brain Disorders Research Program funds collaborative projects that allow US-based institutions (and those in other upper-middle income countries) to partner with institutions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICS) to build research capacity, train local scientists, and tackle research questions and interventions to mitigate negative environmental effects on brain health.

Launched in 2002, NIH’s Fogarty International Center (FIC) launched the Global Brain and Nervous Systems Disorders Research across the Lifespan Program, otherwise known as the Global Brain Disorders Research Program. Since then, the program has provided over $85 million to nearly 200 projects. One recent grantee is psychological scientist Diane Rohlman, professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa, who is studying the effects of pesticide exposure on the developing brain of adolescent field workers in Egypt.

Collaborating with researchers from Egypt’s Menoufia University, Rohlman and her colleagues initially followed a cohort of male adolescent agricultural workers for 10 months to investigate how chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide, affects neurobehavioral performance. Comparing the urinary biomarker of the pesticide in the adolescent field workers and in adolescents from the same communities (but who were not hired to work in the fields), Rohlman and her team found that the former group demonstrated high levels of the pesticide’s urinary biomarker as well as neurobehavioral deficits (e.g. cognitive decline, memory problems). In the next phase of her project, Rohlman will examine how pesticide exposure affects the behavioral and neurological health of this cohort of male adolescent agricultural workers in Egypt Rohlman and her research team hope to then continue developing a training and behavioral intervention program for adolescents in this industry to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides.

The initiative is coordinated by NIH’s FIC with funding provided by several NIH Institutes, including the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Psychological scientists interested in applying for funding from the Global Brain Disorders Research Program can read the current Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) for R01 and R21 (exploratory) projects here.

The deadline for applications is November 7, 2018, and Letters of Intent are due 30 days prior to the application due date.


I am working as a Post Doctoral fellow in the Department of Management studies , Indian Institute of Technology , Madras on a research project titled” Metaphorical thinking on Information Processing ability and learning : a study using EEG and fMRI”. I am an independent researcher and would like to apply for NIH funds for Collaborative Research in Brain and Nervous Systems.

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