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DHHS/NIH: Research on Bioethical Issues Related to Bionic and Robotic Device Development and Translation


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) invites applications that propose research on ethical questions associated with all stages of the design, testing, and/or implementation of bionic and robotic devices.

Donor Name: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

State: All States

County: All Counties

U.S. Territories: American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands

Type of Grant: Grant

Deadline: 12/26/2023

Size of the Grant: $275,000

Grant Duration: 2 years


This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) aims to support research that analyzes and/or addresses bioethical issues related to bionic and robotic devices. Such devices include both invasive and non-invasive technologies used by and for humans to replace, regulate, or otherwise assist human function. The increasing ability of bionic and robotic devices to enable patients to overcome limitations caused by disease and injury and the growing use of these devices in healthcare has surfaced ethical questions. These questions include those related to the invasiveness and autonomy of individuals using bionic and robotic devices, such as: How much autonomy can/should be provided to bionic and robotic devices used on humans? What ethical issues are posed by removing an implantable device at the end of a study? What are the ethical consequences of implanting devices into human beings that potentially modify function?

To address the broad scope and reach of advances in robotics and bionics, applications are invited from investigators representing a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to ethics, engineering, clinical medicine, biology, neuroscience, law, health disparities and inequities research, health services and implementation research, public health, bioinformatics and health information sciences, behavioral and social sciences (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, communication science) and the humanities (e.g., history, religion, philosophy, literature).

Research Objectives and Scope:

Proposed approaches may include but are not limited to data-generating qualitative and quantitative approaches, normative analyses, and other types of analytic and conceptual research methodologies.

OSP and NIBIB are interested in ethical considerations relevant to any or all stages of bionic and robotic device design, testing, and implementation.

Areas of interest include:

  • Studies that consider the ethical implications of recent developments in bionic and robotic devices, including but not limited to activation and monitoring of devices, data security, and intended and unintended use of these new technologies
  • Research on participant representation in study design and participant selection
  • Ethical issues pertaining to informed consent practices (e.g., participant perspective on the consent process, consent with special populations, changes in consent capacity associated with disease progression)
  • Ethical challenges related to equitable availability and use of robotic and/or bionic devices in medical settings
  • Research on long-term obligations to research participant populations
  • Risk/benefit analysis of device interventions compared to other available treatments

Funding Information

  • Issuing IC and partner components intend to commit an estimated total of $2,000,000 to fund 4-5 awards in FY25 and FY26.
  • The combined budget for direct costs for the two-year project period may not exceed $275,000. No more than $200,000 may be requested in any single year.

Project Period

The total project period may not exceed 2 years.

Eligibility Criteria

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Hispanic-serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)

Local Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)

Federal Governments

  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession


  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations

Foreign Institutions

  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.
  • Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

For more information, visit Grants.gov.

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