What Types of Brain Research has BBRF Been Funding Lately?

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation expanded its grantmaking program about five years ago to fund research in every major area of brain and behavior research for all types of mental illness. Grants go toward basic research to understand how mental illness occurs in the brain, technologies to create new ways of studying the brain, and therapies to retrain the brain and reduce symptoms of mental illness.

To get a better sense of what BBRF really cares about right now, we looked back on recent foundation statements, grant cycles and grantee research projects.


This is one of BBRF’s biggest and most enduring priorities, so unsurprisingly, lots of grants go toward brain research for schizophrenia.  The foundation’s president, Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, has advocated for approaches to schizophrenia treatment that reduce hospital ER visits as a last resort. He has also advocated for treatment models that emphasize early intervention and a team-based, coordinated approach.

In December 2015, the foundation announced a new round of Distinguished Investigator Grants to 15 scientists totaling $1.5 million. Six of these grants went to researchers working in the field of brain research for schizophrenia. These professor-researchers were based at New York University, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Yale University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Exeter, and Columbia University.   


Depression is the other huge issue of concern for BBRF. Borenstein believes that more treatments for depression are necessary, because the current options don’t work for everyone. One particularly promising treatment is a drug called NSI-189, which is believed to stimulate the production of new cells in the brain.

In the latest round of Distinguished Investigator Grants, three grants went to researchers working in the field of depression. These researchers were based at University Pierre & Marie Curie, Harvard University and the University of Toronto.


Autism has been a hot topic for researchers lately, and BBRF regularly supports researchers working in the field of this disorder. It recently funded research projects by two established researchers at the University of California Los Angles and McGill University. These studies seek insight into the genetic basis of communication deficits and the regulation of gene expression for treatment of the disorder.

Bipolar Disorder

The foundation has also been interested in research about how the brain develops bipolar disorder. It recently funded research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai that looked into ways that the brain can become resilient to the disorder. Since bipolar disorder is believed to be highly heritable, there are opportunities here for researchers to look at genetics and biological mechanisms to prevent the disorder from expressing itself in the brain and finding new treatments, accordingly.

Other recent areas of funding for Distinguished Investigator Grants include post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. In addition to these funding areas, Young Investigator grants have been going toward work regarding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, borderline personality, eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The open application period for Young Investigator Grants is January-February; for Independent Investigator Grants is November-December; and for Distinguished Investigator Grants is June-July. Check out the foundation’s FAQ page to keep up with deadlines and guidelines. You can learn more about discoveries in basic brain research, new technologies, diagnostic tools/early intervention, and next generation therapies that the foundation supports on its website.

To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment.