Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Big Bucks for BRAIN

The National Institutes of Health wants $4.5 billion over the next dozen years to fund its massive push to develop new tools for imaging, mapping, and studying the brain, technologies that will lay the foundation for understanding how the brain works, and eventually how to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders.

According to a new NIH report on the scientific vision for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovation (BRAIN) Initiative, the plan would provide around $400 million per year for the first five years and $500 million per year between 2020 and 2025. The White House has already invested $40 million in the project, and has asked that another $100 million be included in the 2015 budget.

NIH Director Francis Collins said yesterday in a statement that the discovery of how the brain "gives rise to our mental and intellectual lives will be the most exciting and challenging area of science in the 21st century." He added that the project will require the invention of new technologies, and says it also will lead to new treatments and cures for brain and nervous system disorder, and will sow the seeds of new industries.

One of the core ambitions driving the BRAIN project, which will include participation from NSF and DARPA, will be to develop technologies that researchers who do not have specialized training can use in their novel experiments and studies. To develop these tools, the report advises that the project focus on tech development over the first five or six years.

For anyone who did a double take at the proposed cost of the project, it would be about the same as buying "about one six-pack of beer for each American over the entire 12 years of the program," Cornelia Bargman, a Rockefeller University neuroscientist and a leader of the working group that developed the report, tells ScienceInsider.

Columbia University neuroscientist Eric Kandel says the project is seeking "a reasonable amount of money," as he had been skeptical of how much could be accomplished with the much smaller amount of funding that was invested in the project last year, the New York Times reports.

Collins adds the first round of requests for grants under the project will be announced in September.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.