In Vivo Epigenetic Imaging

Developing Technologies for Improved In Vivo Epigenetic Imaging or Analysis (R01)

The objective of the Technology Development in Epigenetics Initiative is to stimulate the development of revolutionary epigenetic technologies as part of the Roadmap Epigenomics Program. We are specifically interested in revolutionary technologies rather than evolutionary changes to currently existing technologies. Transforming technologies are needed to enable researchers to monitor epigenetic events related to development and disease.

Each human cell type is believed to have a distinct epigenomic profile, which may be altered in a disease state. Therefore, clinical diagnosis of diseases with a significant epigenetic component requires the ability to monitor the epigenetic state of specific tissues/cell types. Tissues such as blood or skin are readily available for this analysis, however in the case of diseases impacting the brain, heart, bone, and other organs it may be difficult or impossible to obtain the appropriate tissue/cell type for epigenetic analysis. Currently the technologies available to determine the epigenetic state of tissues in vivo are extremely limited. The specific purpose of this FOA is to develop revolutionary technologies that will enable in vivo imaging or analysis of epigenetic changes. The epigenetic features of interest include epigenetic marks, modifying enzymes, effector molecules, the activities of these molecules, or other measures of chromatin state.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • The development of technologies and associated optical probes, radiotracers, or ligands for the in vivo imaging of epigenetic modifications or modifying enzymes or epigenetic effector molecules.
  • Imaging technologies for monitoring epigenetic modifications or modifying enzymes at a cellular, tissue, or organ level in living organisms.
  • Technologies that enable in vivo determination of the epigenetic state of human tissues that are not readily available (brain, heart, bone, etc).

Researchers may propose to develop their technology in any in vivo system. We are looking for high impact research in this scientific target area. Applications addressing low impact, incremental improvements to current technologies are not of interest. Applications that propose to use a new technology primarily to test specific scientific hypotheses are advised to submit investigator-initiated applications rather than to submit to this FOA. Applicants should pay close attention to the review criteria for special requirements concerning the significance of the project to the epigenetics research community and project innovation. In all cases, the proposed budget should be commensurate with the research proposed. Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review and for responsiveness by program staff in the NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Workgroup. Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications will be administratively withdrawn without review and will not be considered for funding. A sustained investment in the development of epigenetics technologies will lead to significant advances in our ability to measure and monitor epigenetic modifications in vivo. In the long term, advances in these areas will enhance our ability to investigate, diagnose and ameliorate human disease with a significant epigenetic component.