Initial NIH BRAIN Initiative investments total $46 million

The National Institutes of Health will put forward $46 million to support the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative in the first wave of investments for the project.

Through the initiative, more than 100 investigators in 15 states will create new tools and technologies to capture "a dynamic view of the brain," according to an announcement from NIH. The tools will create a deeper understanding of the brain and hopefully bring about new treatments and cures for brain disorders and diseases, NIH said.

The research initiative was first announced by President Obama in April 2013, with advances in artificial intelligence and increased understanding of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, among other illnesses, among its goals.

Currently, in addition to NIH, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are taking part in the initiative.

Some of the projects the $46 million announced today will go toward include:

  • Creating a wearable scanner to image the human brain in motion
  • Using lasers to guide nerve cell firing
  • Recording the entire nervous system in action
  • Identifying complex circuits with DNA barcodes

In addition, a $1.5 million grant was awarded to scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Copenhagen to create a next-generation brain imaging system, according to an announcement from Johns Hopkins.

In July, it was announced that as part of the initiative, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Pennsylvania will team up to lead a Restoring Active Memory program, with the goal of helping servicemembers recover memory lost due to traumatic brain injury or disease.

"These initial awards are part of a 12-year scientific plan focused on developing the tools and technologies needed to make the next leap in understanding the brain," NIH Director Francis S. Collins said in the NIH announcement. "This is just the beginning of an ambitious journey and we're excited about the possibilities."

To learn more:
- read the announcement