NIH puts up $46M in BRAIN grants

October 2, 2014 in Medical Technology

The National Institutes of Health will award $46 million in grants to support the government’s cognitive research initiative known as BRAIN, or Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.

The money will go to supporting projects and tools to enable further understanding of the workings of the btain.

“The human brain is the most complicated biological structure in the known universe,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, in announcing the grants. “We’ve only just scratched the surface in understanding how it works — or, unfortunately, doesn’t quite work when disorders and disease occur.

“There’s a big gap between what we want to do in brain research and the technologies available to make exploration possible,” he added. “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. This is just the beginning of an ambitious journey and we’re excited about the possibilities.”

Among the goals of the BRAIN initiative:

  • 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, stimulating specific circuits with radio waves, and identifying complex circuits with DNA barcodes are among the 58 projects NIH announced  Sept. 30. The majority of the grants focus on developing transformative technologies that will accelerate fundamental neuroscience research and include:
  • Classifying the myriad cell types in the brain
  • Producing tools and techniques for analyzing brain cells and circuits
  • Creating next-generation human brain imaging technology
  • Developing methods for large-scale recordings of brain activity
  • Integrating experiments with theories and models to understand the functions of specific brain circuits

“How do the billions of cells in our brain control our thoughts, feelings, and movements? That’s ultimately what the BRAIN Initiative is about,” said Thomas R. Insel, MD, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, in a press statement. “Understanding this will greatly help us meet the rising challenges that brain disorders pose for the future health of the nation.”

President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative this past year as a large-scale effort to equip researchers with fundamental insights necessary for treating a wide variety of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

[See also: Obama unveils $100M BRAIN Initiative.]

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Article source: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/nih-puts-46m-brain-grants

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