The White House has announced the expansion of an initiative to advance brain science and technologies, including commitments of more than $300 million in federal, corporate, and philanthropic funding.
To that end, foundations, universities, and research institutions have agreed to align more than $240 million in research funding with the initiative. Participants include the universities of Utah, Texas, Pittsburgh, and California, Berkeley; Carnegie Mellon and Boston universities; and the Pacific Northwest Neuroscience Neighborhood, which includes the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the University of Washington, Oregon Health & Science University, and fifty companies based in Oregon and Washington. Elsewhere, the Simons Foundation will align its five-year, $60 million Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain initiative with the effort and will provide an additional $2 million in funding; the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has pledged to increase funding for its Young Investigator Grants by $2 million; the Children's Neurobiological Solutions Foundation will expand its Pediatric Brain Mapping Project and develop mechanisms to connect patients to clinical trials; and the Neurotechnology Architecting Network will mentor innovators working to develop new technologies to advance our understanding of the brain. Carnegie Mellon also announced a $5 million gift from Pittsburgh philanthropist Henry L. Hillman in support of its recently launched $75 million BrainHub initiative.
Among the organizations that helped launch the BRAIN Initiative in 2013, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which committed to investing $60 million annually in brain-related projects, has completed the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Map project, while the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has invested more than $70 million in the past year in support of the initiative and anticipates making a similar investment in 2015.
The initiative also will be expanded to include two federal agencies, the Food and Drug Administration and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, in addition to the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. NIH has announced $46 million in grants to more than a hundred investigators through a first round of investments in FY2014 in support of the initiative. And corporations participating in the initiative include GE, which has launched a Brain Health Initiative linking GE Healthcare, GE Ventures & Healthymagination, and GE's Global Research Center; and Google, which is partnering with the Allen Institute to develop scalable computational solutions to advance brain research.
"The human brain is the most complicated biological structure in the known universe. We've only just scratched the surface in understanding how it works — or, unfortunately, doesn't quite work when disorders and disease occur," said NIH director Francis S. Collins. "This is just the beginning of an ambitious journey and we’re excited about the possibilities."