The first meeting of the NIH BRAIN Initiative Multi-Council Working Group (MCWG) took place on August 25. The working group [hyperlink to roster], co-chaired by NINDS Director Story Landis and NIMH Director Tom Insel, is composed of 14 outstanding extramural neuroscience researchers and a neuro-ethics expert, in addition to three ex officio members representing Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The purpose of the working group is to provide input on a variety of issues to the advisory councils of the 10 NIH Institutes participating in the BRAIN Initiative. The meeting included an overview of the BRAIN Initiative, an overview of the working group’s responsibilities, and a discussion of the applications received in response to the NIH’s initial six BRAIN Initiative funding announcements. In the afternoon, concepts for potential future BRAIN funding announcements were presented for input and approval.
The NIH BRAIN working group presented its long-term vision for the BRAIN Initiative to the NIH Director’s Advisory Committee on June 5, which was enthusiastically endorsed by the Committee and the NIH director. This vision, detailed in the working group’s final report, BRAIN 2025, focuses on mapping the circuits of the brain, measuring the fluctuating patterns of electrical and chemical activity flowing within those circuits, and understanding how their interplay creates our unique cognitive and behavioral capabilities. Check out the NIH director’s statement and the NIH news release to learn more!
The NIH BRAIN working group will present its scientific plan to the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, at the June 5-6, 2014 meeting. This plan outlines the scientific vision for the Initiative as well as specific goals, milestones, and deliverables. Related information, webcast link, and materials will be posted to the ACD and BRAINwebsites as they become available.
On May 14, the Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues issued its first set of recommendations in response to President Obama’s charge to “identify proactively a set of core ethical standards – both to guide neuroscience research and to address some of the ethical dilemmas that may be raised by the application of neuroscience research findings.” The specific topic of the report is the integration of ethics into neuroscience research across the life of a research endeavor. Read the press release or report for more information.
Last week, President Obama announced his budget proposal to double the Federal investment in the BRAIN Initiative from about $100 million in Fy 2014 to approximately $200 million in FY 2015. Read the fact sheet to learn more about the proposed investments at various agencies to support groundbreaking research and meet the audacious goals of this initiative.
The White House is seeking to further advance the goals of the President’s BRAIN Initiative by mobilizing organizations around the country. Through a Call to Action released on February 24, the White House has asked to hear from companies, health systems, patient advocacy organizations, philanthropists, etc. about the unique activities and capabilities underway that could be leveraged to catalyze new breakthroughs in our understanding of the brain.
Later this year, the White House will hold an event to feature the role of these organizations in achieving the President’s bold vision. Have ideas? Send to email@example.com by May 1, 2014.
When the President launched the BRAIN Initiative in April 2013, he charged his Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues with exploring the ethical, legal, and societal implications raised by both this research initiative and other recent advances in neuroscience to ensure that this research progresses responsibly. The Commission is currently encouraging the public to weigh in on these topics and individuals interested in submitting comments should refer to the announcement recently posted in the Federal Register.
On January 15, 2014, the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-73.). In this bill, Congress signaled its strong support for the BRAIN Initiative by appropriating funds for NIH Institutes and Centers to begin its implementation in fiscal year 2014. Language also indicates the importance of investing in basic research to advance fundamental knowledge by stating that “This work may take decades before it results in cures or treatments, but it holds promise to unlock the secrets behind diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.”
Today, NIH is excited to release six new funding opportunities in support of the BRAIN Initiative. These announcements were developed in response to one or more of the high priority research areas identified by the ACD BRAIN Working Group. Collectively, these opportunities focus on advancing our technological capabilities for understanding how circuits of interacting neurons function to create behavior, with the ultimate goal of improving our scientific foundation for the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders.
These initial investments will total $40 million in Fiscal Year 2014. Two announcements focus on developing methods for classifying and accessing the diverse cells and circuits of the brain; three of the announcements focus on developing and optimizing technologies for recording and modulating collections of cells that function together as a circuit; and the final announcement supports the formation of interdisciplinary teams of scientists to develop the next generation of non-invasive imaging technologies for human research.