The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced the recipients of the agency's first wave of funding for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, a $110 million U.S. effort to develop tools for studying how networks of neurons produce thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
After receiving more than 600 applications in response to a call for proposals issued last fall, NIH reviewers selected 58 projects for funding in fiscal year 2014. The grants will fund more than 100 investigators both in the U.S. and abroad, many of them early in their careers, says neuroscientist Cornelia Bargmann of Rockefeller University in New York, who led the advisory group to NIH's portion of BRAIN. "Some are just a couple of years out of their PhDs," while others are distinguished leaders of the field, she says. See the full list of grantees.
The list of proposals for exploring new technologies "reads like a mashup" by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, says Meryl Comer, president of the Geoffrey Been Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative. Researchers at West Virginia University in Morgantown, for example, have received a $538,996 grant to develop portable PET scanner that humans can wear as they go about their day. Another group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has received $497,799 to track the real-time movement of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine throughout the human brain.
In June, a working group of prominent neuroscientists laid out an ambitious vision for BRAIN, including seven high priority research areas. They included classifying different cell types in the brain, recording and manipulating the activity of thousands of neurons at a time, and developing new human brain imaging technologies that can measure brain activity down to the neuronal level. (Current techniques such as functional MRI can only measure changes in blood...Continue Reading »