NIH working group urges $4.5 billion budget for BRAIN Initiative

An advisory group to the National Institutes of Health is urging $4.5 billion in funding for brain research over the next 12 years in a report laying out goals and a framework for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

President Obama announced the massive research initiative in April 2013. Though the NIH leads the project and is contributing $40 million in its fiscal year 2014 budget for it, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, National Science Foundation and Food and Drug Administration also are taking part, according to an announcement.

This report, from the Advisory Committee to the Director's BRAIN Working Group, calls for NIH funding to ramp up to $400 million a year for five years as it focuses on technology development and validation, then to $500 million a year through 2025 as it focuses on applying those technologies to make new discoveries about the brain.

Obama has requested $100 million for NIH's part in the initiative in his fiscal year 2015 budget. The working group emphasized that the proposed budget should be in addition to NIH's existing investment in neuroscience research. The imitative is expected to shed new light on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, among other illnesses.

The initiative's goals include:

  • Determining different cells' role in health and disease.
  • Producing a dynamic picture of the functioning brain through large-scale monitoring of neural activity.
  • Understanding the biological basis of mental processes with new theoretical and data analysis tools.
  • Developing innovative technologies to understand the human brain and treat its disorders.

Its core principles include developing platforms for preserving and sharing data, and validating and disseminating technology.

"As the Human Genome Project did with precision medicine, the BRAIN Initiative promises to transform the way we prevent and treat devastating brain diseases and disorders while also spurring economic development," National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins says in the announcement.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- find the announcement