NIH Approves High-Priority Research Within BRAIN Initiative

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National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., today approved initial areas of high-priority brain research to guide $40 million of NIH fiscal year 2014 funding within the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative.  The initiative aims to accelerate work on technologies that give a dynamic picture of how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact. The ultimate goal is to enhance understanding of the brain and improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases.

The initiative was announced in April by President Obama. He called for a total of $110 million in the 2014 fiscal year budget to support the effort, of which $40 million is expected to be allocated by NIH.

“The time is right to exploit recent advances in neuroscience research and technologies to advance our understanding of the brain’s functions and processes and what causes them to go wrong in disease,” said Dr. Collins. “The BRAIN Working Group has been on a fast track to identify key areas of research for funding.  This group of visionary neuroscientists has provided an excellent set of recommendations, and I am eager to move these areas forward.”

NIH’s fiscal 2014 investment will focus on nine areas of research.  The vision for the initiative is to combine these areas of research into a coherent, integrated science of cells, circuits, brain and behavior.

— Generate a census of brain cell types
— Create structural maps of the brain
— Develop new, large-scale neural network recording capabilities
— Develop a suite of tools for neural circuit manipulation
— Link neuronal activity to behavior
— Integrate theory, modeling, statistics and computation with neuroscience
experiments
— Delineate mechanisms underlying human brain imaging technologies
— Create mechanisms to enable collection of human data for scientific
research
— Disseminate knowledge and training

Following President Obama’s announcement, Dr. Collins tasked a working group of his Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) to identify high priority areas of research for fiscal 2014 funding and to develop a long-term scientific plan. The BRAIN Working Group today presented the high priority research areas to the ACD. The ACD fully endorsed the report and recommended that the NIH director accept them in full, which he did. The working group will continue to work over the course of the next eight to nine months to develop the longer term scientific plan, which is expected to be delivered to the ACD in June 2014.

The BRAIN Initiative is jointly led by NIH, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation. Private partners-including the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Kavli Foundation-are also committed to ensuring success through investment in the initiative.

For more information about the BRAIN Initiative and the ACD working group:
NIH BRAIN Initiative website <http://www.nih.gov/science/brain/index.htm>
NIH BRAIN Initiative Feedback website <http://brainfeedback.nih.gov/>

NIH Advisory Committee to the Director BRAIN Working Group website <http://acd.od.nih.gov/brain.htm>

This NIH News Release is available online at: <http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2013/od-16.htm>.

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