About SPARC

Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC)

The NIH SPARC Program

Visit the SPARC Data and Resource Center page to learn more about the multi-disciplinary team that develops the SPARC Data ecosystem.

Our Goal

The Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program is supported by the NIH Common Fund to provide a scientific and technological foundation for future bioelectronic medicine devices and protocols. The goal of the SPARC program is to identify neural targets and accelerate the development of therapeutic devices that modulate electrical activity in the vagus and other nerves to help treat diseases and conditions, such as hypertension and gastrointestinal disorders, by precisely adjusting organ function. Some of the ways the SPARC program is working to advance this goal include:

  • Constructing anatomical and functional datasets from organ-specific neural circuitry, including those that mediate visceral pain.

  • Mapping the human vagus nerve, including circuit-level descriptions of human vagal anatomy and physiology.

  • Creating new tools and technologies, including open-source neuromodulation platforms, to enable precise manipulation and measurement of nerve-organ interactions and their associated functions.

  • Establishing effective research partnerships with clinicians, basic scientists, engineers, and private industry to pursue data-intensive, mechanistic clinical studies.

  • Implementing prize challenges for the research and development community to demonstrate proof-of-principle neuromodulation therapeutic benefits with limited off-target effects.

  • Developing the SPARC Portal to make high value autonomic nervous system data sets, maps, and computational studies freely available to the wider research community.

SPARC Material Sharing Policy: To catalyze scientific progress and maximize the value of the significant public investment in the SPARC Program, material generated from the SPARC consortium will be made freely available to the wider research community. Click here to read the policy.

The SPARC Portal

The SPARC Portal is an international project funded by the NIH Common Fund’s SPARC program under OT3OD025349, OT3OD025348, OT3OD025347, and OT2OD030541. The SPARC Portal was created to help facilitate autonomic neuroscience research by hosting a growing collection of digital resources, including datasets, maps, and computational studies that focus on the role of the autonomic nervous system in controlling organ function.

The resources available on the SPARC Portal are generated by SPARC program-supported research projects. Our long-term goal is to make this a resource the larger community can also contribute to. We are continually adding new datasets, maps, and computational studies to the site and are building new functionality to access and interact with those resources — so please check back periodically. We encourage you to ask questions and help us improve the SPARC Portal by providing your feedback.

SPARC's Plans for the Future

The overall vision of the SPARC Portal is to provide a resource for the global scientific community to explore and leverage the scientific discoveries of the SPARC program (and eventually other related research from the field of autonomic neuroscience/bioelectronic medicine). The SPARC program is designed to generate high quality datasets, simulation models, and technical resources that enable interaction and collaboration around these assets.

Key Goals

  1. Enable visitors to explore and discover SPARC research data, resources, publications, documentation, events, webinars and more from the SPARC program.
  2. Provide up-to-date information and insight about/into the autonomic nervous system and its integrated physiological role (e.g., through consolidated and curated maps).
  3. Facilitate collaboration between researchers in bioelectronic medicine.
  4. Facilitate the finding of or enabling exploration of related/associated data, computational models, analysis functionality, and anatomical models.
  5. Support FAIRness in data/model publication (based on the curation work and the FAIRness components of other DRC resources, such as Blackfynn, o2S2PARC, Protocols.io).
  6. Serve as a gateway for SPARC internal and external communication and community building.

For more details, see our full roadmap document here.

SPARC Program Leadership

Oversight for the SPARC program is provided by the NIH Working Group, led by the Office of Strategic Coordination, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Learn More

Visit the NIH Common Fund’s SPARC program website to learn more about public health relevance, translational partnerships, SPARC components, the latest research highlights, and more. To keep up with the latest news and events from the SPARC Portal, sign up for our mailing list. To find out more about the SPARC Program and current funding opportunities, email the NIH Working Group.