Brain & Behavior Research Foundation: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: This funder supports brain researchers working to alleviate suffering from mental illnesses. Most funding goes to young investigators, with priorities in basic brain research, new brain technologies, and brain therapies to reduce symptoms of mental illness.

IP TAKE: This is a great funder to get involved with in the early stages of your research career. Young Investigator grantees are eligible for additional prizes at the foundation’s annual events and for subsequent funding through the advanced researcher programs.

PROFILE: The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded over $342 million, across more than 5,000 grants to over 4,000 scientists, since it was established in 1987. By funding brain research, the foundation aims to alleviate suffering caused by mental illness. It was originally formed by a small group of family and friends of people with mental illnesses. In 2011, the organization rebranded itself, adopting its current name and awarding grants to fund research in every major area of brain and behavior research for all mental illness.

The foundation supports research studies that have potential for breakthrough discoveries. There are three research priorities at the foundation:

  • Basic Research — The discovery of “susceptibility genes,” deepening our understanding of causes and risk factors for mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • New Technologies — Innovative treatments for severe depression when drug therapy fails, including deep brain stimulation, optogenetics and transcranial magnetic stimulation.
  • Diagnostic Tools/Early Intervention — Tools to recognize early signs of mental illness and treat them as soon as possible.
  • Next Generation Therapies — The development of new medications for the 30 percent of people with schizophrenia who do not respond to traditional drug therapy.

NARSAD Young Investigator Grants support scientists at the advanced post-doctoral or assistant professor (or equivalent) level. Grants are up to $35,000 per year, for one or two years (maximum of $70,000). NARSAD Independent Investigator Grants support scientists at the associate professor (or equivalent) level. Grants are up to $50,000 per year, for two years (maximum of $100,000). NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grants support scientists at the full professor (or equivalent) level. Grants are up to $100,000 for one year. Additionally, the foundation honors grantees with Klerman and Freedman Prizes, Outstanding Achievement Prizes, and Productive Lives Awards at two events each year.

The vast majority of grantees are young investigators, with some grants committed to independent investigators and even fewer grants to distinguished investigators. You can view a list of past grantees on the foundation website. Grant decisions are made by a volunteer scientific council comprising 165 experts in various disciplines of brain and behavior research. Most of these experts are members of the Institute of Medicine, chairs of psychiatry and neuroscience departments, and members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Questions should be directed to the New York City-based staff at grants@bbrfoundation.org or by phone at 646-681-4888.

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