NIH Approves High Priority Research Within BRAIN Initiative

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BRAINffIn April 2013, President Obama announced a new grand challenge in the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, which aims to accelerate the development and application of technologies to increase our knowledge of brain circuits and systems.  President Obama 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 the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The NIH convened a BRAIN working group soon after the President’s announcement. This group is comprised of highly distinguished researchers in the field of neuroscience. The group was charged with articulating scientific goals and developing a plan for the NIH.  Since May 2013, the working group has worked diligently and has held four meetings to discuss and develop scientific goals and research priorities for the BRAIN initiative.

On Monday September 16, 2013, the working group presented their preliminary report to the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD).  NIH’s fiscal 2014 investments 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.  The nine high priority areas identified were:

  • 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
  • Disseminate knowledge and training

This is an interim report.  The working group will continue to work to develop a longer-term, scientific plan, which is expected to be delivered to the ACD in June 2014.

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