Call for Proposals for research projects on Ethical, Legal, and Social Aspects (ELSA) of Neuroscience

This call has been closed.

The aim of the call is to facilitate multinational, collaborative research projects that will address im-portant questions regarding ethical, philosophical, legal and socio-cultural aspects related to the neurosciences and their recent advances.

Subjects under this general heading include but are not limited to:

a) the consequences of the development of neuroscientific diagnostic methods (e.g. handling of incidental findings; the “right not to know”; very early disease prediction before symptoms occur; diagnosis in absence of treatment options; interactions between socio-culturally di-verse patients and health personnel; availability of novel expensive methods)

b) abnormal behaviour reduced to deviant brain states (e.g. expansion of the concept of illness; seeing psychiatric symptoms merely as specific neurochemical imbalances); use of brain data and brain interventions in legal contexts (e.g. “brain reading” for the detection of deception; brain intervention of offenders; psychosurgery; insurance law)

c) neuroenhancement such as alteration of mental states (cognitive, affective) and abilities (e.g. cognition, sleep, appetite, sexual behaviour) in healthy subjects by pharmacological or by electrical/magnetic brain stimulation

d) intelligent technologies and close human-machine interaction (e.g. Ambient Assisted Living, Brain-Computer Interfaces)

e) personality changes as side effects of neurological or psychiatric therapies (e.g. Deep Brain Stimulation; brain implants)

f) the impact of modern neuroscience on traditional philosophical questions, concepts and theories regarding fundamental aspects of human nature (e.g. the relationship between mind and brain, the nature of consciousness, self- and personal identity, free will)

g) biobanking of neural tissue (e.g. tissue donation, deceased donor, data protection, possible consequences for relatives)

h) clinical research with patients suffering from neurological or psychiatric diseases (e.g. de-veloping tools to improve the assessment of decision-making capacity of the patients, anal-ysis of legal measures to protect those who do not have the capacity to consent)

i) societal and cultural changes induced by neuroscientific knowledge and its application.

The individual components of joint applications should be complementary and should contain novel, ambitious ideas to answer key questions or lead to a step-wise change in understanding. There should be clear added value in funding the collaboration over the individual projects.

All scientific disciplines and stakeholders, which are relevant for the specific ELSA-research ques-tion, should be integrated. This could be for instance experts from the fields of neuroscience, psy-chology, medicine, informatics, engineering, philosophy, theology, law, social sciences, cultural studies or healthcare economy. Depending on the research question, it may also be necessary to integrate (pharmaceutical) industry, health insurances, patients, relatives, patient representatives or other groups of persons who are directly affected.

Projects should go beyond purely analytical or descriptive levels related to the past or present. Based on their analyses, the applicants should aim at giving prospects for the future and developing proposals for socio-compatible use of neuroscientific advances. Additionally, the applicants should develop and implement concepts for effective public communication of their results. Com-munication of the results on an international level is desirable.

No empirical neuroscientific or biomedical research can be funded in this call.

Proposal submission: It is strongly recommended that all applicants thoroughly read the information provided below.


Call text: Read more about this call’s purpose, aims, and application procedures.

Country-specific information: Please study thoroughly the regulations for your country/region

Contact persons: It is strongly recommended that applicants call their national/regional contact person prior to submitting a proposal.

Proposal template and online submission: Please download the proposal template and find the link for the proposal submission here.




For general information, please contact the Joint Call Secretariat:

ELSA Neuroscience Joint Call Secretariat
DLR Project Management Agency, Health; on behalf of the BMBF
Dr. Katja Kuhlmann
+49 228 3821 1723

Dr. Anna Gossen

+49 228 3821 1684