NIH Announces $40M in Research Funding Opportunities to Advance the Administration's BRAIN Initiative

Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it is releasing solicitations that will provide $40 million in research funding to advance the Administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which President Obama unveiled on April 2, 2013. 

As President Obama noted at a White House launch event, the goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to give “scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember.”  This initiative will not only improve our understanding of the how the brain works, it also promises to improve our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases of the brain.

The new solicitations will provide funding for researchers to:

  • Generate an inventory of the different types of cell types in the brain;
  • Develop new tools to analyze the complex circuits that are responsible for brain function by delivering  genes, proteins and chemicals to particular cells;
  • Develop new approaches to record the activity of large numbers of neurons in any location in the brain, and improve existing technologies so they can be widely adopted by neuroscientists;
  • Understand large-scale neural circuits by integrating experimental, analytical, and theoretical approaches; and
  • Form teams to develop the next generation of non-invasive imaging technologies.

These solicitations support many of the research topics identified as priorities by an NIH working group on the BRAIN Initiative composed of leading neuroscientists, co-chaired by Dr. Cornelia Bargmann (Rockefeller University) and Dr. William Newsome (Stanford University).  This working group is expected to submit its final report in the summer of 2014.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation have also been investing in the BRAIN Initiative.  DARPA is supporting the development of technologies that will improve the understanding and treatment of neuropsychological illness for U.S. veterans and servicemembers using more precise neural stimulation therapies.  The agency has also launched a new program to understand how neural stimulation could enable recovery of memory following brain injury.  The National Science Foundation has awarded $25 million to the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  This center seeks to understand human intelligence and develop truly intelligent machines by creating collaborations between researchers in computer science, math, statistics, robotics, neuroscience, and cognitive science.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at OSTP

Lyric Jorgenson is with the Office of the Deputy Director for Science, Outreach and Policy, National Institutes of Health

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