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Program Snapshot

The Common Fund’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program accelerates development of therapeutic devices that modulate electrical activity in nerves to improve organ function. This therapeutic strategy, also known as “bioelectronic medicine,” could offer new treatment options for diverse diseases and conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, gastrointestinal disorders, and more.

In Phase 1 of the program, SPARC supported the development of new tools and technologies, mapped the connections among a variety of different nerves and organ systems, and created a rich public resource (the SPARC Portal, available at sparc.science) that provides scientists with cutting-edge information and tools for advancing bioelectronic medicine. Building on these accomplishments, in Phase 2 of the program SPARC will focus on the anatomy and functional connectivity of the human vagus nerve (SPARC-V), build a new ecosystem of open-specification neuromodulation device components (SPARC-O), challenge the innovator community to prove new capabilities (SPARC-X), and will continue to share data and digital resources through the SPARC Portal. Through these complementary initiatives, SPARC will facilitate the development of new best-in-class bioelectronic medicine therapies:

SPARC-V (Vagus nerve mapping and physiology)

  • The Reconstructing Vagal Anatomy (REVA) initiative is creating more precise and detailed maps of the human vagus nerve, a bioelectronic highway that carries two-way electrical signals between the brain and internal organs of the body
  • The VNS Endpoints from Standardized Parameters (VESPA) initiative is identifying the physiological effects of altering vagus nerve activity to discover how best to stimulate nerve fibers for specific therapeutic effects

SPARC-O (Open-source neuromodulation technologies)

SPARC-X (Neuromod Prize)

  • Neuromod Prize is providing an exciting challenge competition that will incentivize groundbreaking proof-of-concept demonstrations of bioelectronic medicine approaches that will help patients; learn more at neuromodprize.com

Resources for advancing bioelectronic medicine

  • The SPARC Portal is advancing bioelectronic medicine by providing open access to digital resources that can be shared, cited, visualized, computed, and used for virtual experimentation

Learn more about Phase 2 of the SPARC program here.

Announcements

SPARC Enters Phase 2!
The SPARC Program has launched its Phase 2 initiatives, which will advance understanding of the structure and function of the autonomous nervous system and develop new, open-source approaches to neuromodulation therapies. See the announcement on the SPARC.science portal to learn more.

Breaking News! Winners announced for Phase 1 of the $9.8M Neuromod Prize
The NIH Common Fund has announced eight Phase 1 winners of the Neuromod Prize. Each winner was awarded $100,000 and an exclusive invitation to conduct proof-of-concept studies in the second phase of the competition. Read the Common Fund announcement to learn more.

Visit the SPARC Portal

Explore datasets, maps, and predictive simulations

This page last reviewed on February 5, 2024