The National Institutes of Health just awarded 67 projects $38 million under its Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, putting its total investment the project at $85 million in FY 2015. More than 130 researchers in 8 countries and the U.S. received the funding. They represent 125 institutions.
The funded projects are intended to advance neurological devices for next-generation imaging, neuromodulation, large-scale recording of brain activity, and invasive tools to treat conditions like epilepsy.
For example, researchers from Cornell University's Weill Medical College received funding to develop a device that treats traumatic brain injury by delivering deep brain stimulation to the thalamus, while a team from Vanderbilt University will use the award to "explore how ultrasound can be used in conjunction with MR imaging to interrogate brain circuits and diagnose brain disorder," the NIH wrote on its website.
In addition, the private, philanthropic Kavli Foundation announced that it is joining forces with its academic partners to provide $100 million to fund brain research to understand traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Most of the money will be used to establish neuroscience institutes at John Hopkins University, The Rockefeller University and the University of California, San Francisco.
The remaining $42 million will fund the four existing Kavli neuroscience institutes at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Yale University, Columbia University and The University of California, San Diego.
President Barack Obama launched the BRAIN initiative in 2014. The NIH awarded $46 million under the BRAIN initiative that year.
"The President launched the BRAIN Initiative to help unlock the mysteries of the brain, to improve our treatment of conditions like Alzheimer's and autism, and to deepen our understanding of how we think, learn, and remember. The Kavli Foundation is responding to the President's call to action by making investments to advance the goals of the BRAIN Initiative. I hope this spurs other private, philanthropic, and academic institutions to support this important initiative," said John Holdren, assistant to the president for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a statement.
Critics say the program is not ambitious enough. The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies warned last year that the initiative is destined to fail unless funding commitments increase dramatically, and is calling for a $2 billion a year National Neurotechnology Initiative.