The BRAIN (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, a national research effort designed to advance brain science and technologies, will be supported in part by private foundations and research institutes.
Launched with more than $100 million from the Obama administration's fiscal year 2014 budget — $40 million from the National Institutes of Health, $50 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and $20 million from the National Science Foundation — the initiative will include partnerships with a number of companies, foundations, and private research institutions already investing in neuroscience research. For instance, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which began studying the neural code in 2012 as part of an expansion supported by a $300 million pledge from institute founder Paul G. Allen, will invest more than $60 million annually in BRAIN Initiative-related projects. Elsewhere, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has committed at least $30 million to related research, while the Salk Institute for Biological Studies will dedicate more than $28 million to cross-disciplinary research through its Dynamic Brain Initiative, and the Kavli Foundation expects to invest $4 million annually over ten years in related research and activities.
The BRAIN Initiative builds on discussions among a group of leading neuroscientists and nanotechnologists that were initiated at a 2011 conference organized by the Allen Institute and the Kavli and Gatsby Charitable foundations. The initiative's focus on leveraging emerging technologies dovetails with advances in computational neuroscience and in engineering and physics that are enabling scientists to develop tiny tools to better explore the brain. "We want to understand the brain to know how we reason, how we memorize, how we learn, how we move, how our emotions work. These abilities define us, yet we hardly understand any of it," said Miyoung Chun, vice president of science programs at the Kavli Foundation. "An interdisciplinary network of scientists and engineers working together could make new, powerful prosthetics, lead to new treatments of devastating brain disorders, create improved educational strategies, and smart technologies that mimic the brain's extraordinary abilities."