Tracking the BRAIN Initiative
Recent activities surrounding the BRAIN Initiative focused on collaboration across U.S. agencies, laboratories, and the public and private sectors to fuel efforts to accelerate understanding of the human brain. A White House conference featured leading scientists from across the country addressing research areas in need of exploration and investment while NIH and NSF announced funding awards that will support research into new tools and technologies.
White House Conference
On September 30, leading neuroscientists along with industry and philanthropic leaders participated in a White House conference on the future of the BRAIN Initiative and its implications for the field. SfN President Carol Mason moderated a panel on the progress made to date by scientific agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative. The event featured remarks from NSF Director France Cordova, NIMH Director Thomas Insel, and John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. A video of the event is available.
The White House also announced a number of new funding partners for BRAIN-related research, including General Electric, Google, and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).
NIH announced its first set of awards in support of the BRAIN Initiative. A total of $46 million in FY2014 funds will be spread among more than 100 investigators in 15 states working on 58 projects investigating new tools and technologies for understanding the brain. According to the NIH announcement, “these initial awards are part of a12-year scientific plan focused on developing the tools and technologies needed to make the next leap in understanding the brain.”
NSF Funding Opportunities
NSF announced new funding opportunities as part of its involvement in the BRAIN Initiative. The Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems program will support 15 to 25 grants for a total investment of up to $12 million for FY2015. The grants will be centered on two research themes: “Neuroengineering and Brain-Inspired Concepts and Designs” and “Individuality and Variation.” Within those themes, the announcement specifically calls out general advances in theory and methods, technological innovations, educational approaches, enabling research infrastructure, and workforce development as being of significant interest.