Unlocking the mysteries of the human brain has become a major focus for foundations and major individual donors in the past 10 years. Some funders take a conservative approach, and some are less risk averse, but altogether, they cover a wide range of organizations and individual scholars.

We're keeping tabs on what brain research funders are doing, posting any and all insights we glean in the guide below. All the profiles of funders here are updated regularly.

MAJOR GIFTS

The IP health team tracks and analyzes major individual gifts for brain research in our Life Savers guide. We look at who's giving, who's getting, what the gifts are for, and how brain research donors are cultivated. READ

FUNDERS 

ACORDA THERAPEUTICS

Acorda Therapeutics doesn't have a philanthropic arm, but makes grants to support the study and education of neurological and nervous system disorders.

RITA ALLEN FOUNDATION

Rita Allen Foundation grants for brain research go out broadly through the field, focusing on early-career scientists working in cancer, immunology, and neuroscience. 

ALLERGAN FOUNDATION

This philanthropic arm of the global pharma company doesn't have a dedicated program for brain research or treatment, but nevertheless awards some good-sized brain grants when the benefits are sufficiently broad.   

ALS ASSOCIATION

Dedicates the majority of its funding to new drug discoveries and improved therapies toward the treatment of ALS. Grants are available to both new and established researchers.

AMERICAN BRAIN TUMOR ASSOCIATION

Funding all things brain tumor-related, the ABTA tends to focus its grantmaking on scientists and researchers who are just starting out their careers. 

AMERICAN FEDERATION FOR AGING RESEARCH

AFAR awards aging-focused grants, concentrating its funding support on helping people live longer and healthier lives.  

AUTISM SCIENCE FOUNDATION

ASF supports autism researchers and organizations in the stages of pre- and post-doctoral training and early career. Priorities are genetics, treatment, public education, early diagnosis, and early intervention.

BD BIOSCIENCES

Grantseekers in neuroscience should look into the immunology program at BD Biosciences.

BRAIN ANEURYSM FOUNDATION

This funder supports scientific research to improve early detection, treatment, and technological advances for patients suffering from brain aneurysms. Grants go to researchers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

BRAIN & BEHAVIOR RESEARCH FOUNDATION

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

BRAINNET FOUNDATION

BRAINnet is all about expanding the base of scientific knowledge to build a better understanding of the human brain. A huge focus of grantmaking, here, is to contribute to the prevention of brain-related disorders.

BRAIN RESEARCH FOUNDATION

BRF awards grants to researchers and scientists conducting new research for the better understanding and innovative treatment of neurological disorders and in the field of neuroscience in general.

BRAIN TUMORS FUNDERS' COLLABORATIVE

The Brain Tumor Funders’ Collaborative tends to fund scientists solidly outside mainstream brain cancer research, but in a very specific area at a specific time. BTFC typically makes RFAs once every four years.

BRIGHTFOCUS FOUNDATION

BrightFocus is on the lookout for catalytic researchers that can take their work out of the lab and into practice. Supports research into Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma. 

BROACH FOUNDATION FOR BRAIN CANCER RESEARCH

This funder supports clinics and doctors working on promising brain cancer research to find treatments and a cure. Unsolicited grant applications are not accepted.

CAPITAL GROUPS COMPANIES CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The Capital Groups Companies Charitable Foundation funds brain and neurological organizations across the country.  

CHDI FOUNDATION

CHDI's brain research funding is centered on slowing the progression of Huntington’s disease and finding a cure. CHDI funds researchers, employs staff scientists, and partners with biotech companies.

CHILDHOOD BRAIN TUMOR FOUNDATION

CBTF awards grants annually to researchers for basic science and clinical research for pediatric brain tumors, programs and conferences. Funding goes to treatments, cures, and quality-of-life enhancements.

CHILD NEUROLOGY FOUNDATION

The Child Neurology Foundation invests in early career scientists who examine various aspects of child neurology and neurological disorders.

CITIZENS UNITED FOR RESEARCH IN EPILEPSY (CURE)

This funder awards grants to researchers working to treat epilepsy, uncover its causes, and find a cure. It offers three awards in two annual grant cycles, and a couple of other funding initiatives, too.

SHURL AND KAY CURCI FOUNDATION

Supports research in various disciplines, though most go to neuroscience. Most grants go to universities and medical institutions, with California-based sites favored.

CURE STARTS NOW FOUNDATION

Funds research into pediatric brain cancer, with particular concentration on diffuse Intrinsic pontine glioma. 

DANA FOUNDATION

Dana Foundation grants focus on neurological and brain-related research including neuroscience, neuroimmunology and brain and immuno imaging. 

EPILEPSY FOUNDATION

This is the largest nongovernmental funder of epilepsy research, and supports researchers at universities and corporations working to stop seizures, find a cure, and overcome daily challenges for patients.

MICHAEL J. FOX FOUNDATION

The Michael J. Fox Foundation wants to keep the Parkinson's drug development pipeline flowing. And it isn't afraid to back potentially high risk/high reward projects. 

GATES FOUNDATION

Since Gates does not have a grant program dedicated to brain research, in order to get a related grant from Gates, your research needs to line up with one of the foundation's global health initiatives. 

GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

One of 17 nonprofits in the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trust, Gatsby's neuroscience grants go to theoretical and basic research, circuits and behavior, multidisciplinary consortia, and building centers for neuroscience research.

GEOFFREY BEENE FOUNDATION

Geoffrey Beene’s brain research and treatment support is focused on Alzheimer’s disease. The focus is on research for early-stage Alzheimer's, which is believed to be the key to prevention and treatment. 

CONRAD N. HILTON FOUNDATION

This funder’s brain research grantmaking is focused on finding a cure for multiple sclerosis and improving the quality of life for people suffering from MS. Grants are awarded to researchers and health practitioners.

HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE

HHMI awards a good number of biomedical research grants in the U.S. annually. It tends to favor projects that combine neuroscience and genetics in some way, and doesn't shy away from funding interdisciplinary efforts.

BEN & CATHERINE IVY FOUNDATION

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation wants to double the life expectancy of people with brain cancer, but its ultimate goal is to cure brain cancer. 

F.M. KIRBY FOUNDATION

Kirby provides support for very selective and specific brain initiatives, with such funding often channeled through major hospitals. 

LEON LEVY FOUNDATION

The Leon Levy Foundation runs five neuroscience fellowship programs at hospitals and medical centers around New York City. It gives deeply and narrowly, and likes supporting early-career scientists.

NANCY LURIE MARKS FAMILY FOUNDATION

This funder supports a variety of autism-related endeavors, including neuroimaging, genetics, conferences, treatments, advocacy, anatomy & physiology, communications, and cellular and molecular mechanisms.

MATHERS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

Mathers is a relatively small foundation that supports "established researchers at top universities and independent research institutions" in the U.S.

JAMES S. MCDONNELL FOUNDATION

McDonnell's three main areas of focus are Understanding Human Cognition, Studying Complex Systems, and Mathematical and Complex Systems Approaches for Brain Cancer.

McKNIGHT FOUNDATION

Grantseekers should expect an extremely high level of competition from Ph.D.s working at some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country. 

MATTHEW LARSON FOUNDATION FOR PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMORS

This funder supports medical and scientific research to find a cure for brain and spinal tumors. It was established by the mother of a child who lost his life to this disease.

NATIONAL BRAIN TUMOR SOCIETY

The National Brain Tumor Society awards grants to advance the pace of brain tumor drug development and discovery.  

NATIONAL MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY

NMSS awards grants to support multiple sclerosis studies through grants for research, training, pilot research, commercial funding, patient management/care/rehabilitation research, and health care delivery/policy research.

ORGANIZATION FOR AUTISM RESEARCH

OAR funds research pilot studies that investigate issues that affect autistic individuals and those that care for them. Grants are awarded up to $30,000 for professional researchers, doctoral students, and master’s students.

PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMOR FOUNDATION

This major funder of research into pediatric brain cancer backs a wide range of scientists and research areas, from basic biology of the diseases to treatments. A must-know for scientists working in the field.

SIMONS FOUNDATION

The Simons Foundation awards brain research grants on autism spectrum disorders and postdoctoral fellowships related to how neural activity produces cognition.  

SONTAG FOUNDATION

The Sontag Foundation awards four-year grants to promising early-career scientists in order to advance their research and help them establish their labs. 

SOUTHEASTERN BRAIN TUMOR FOUNDATION

This funder supports researchers who are working on clinical trials to find treatments and a cure for brain tumors. The geographic focus is the Southeastern U.S.

NANCY TAYLOR FOUNDATION FOR CHRONIC DISEASES

Taylor backs a wide range of brain and neurological research. Typically makes a small number of good-sized grants annually.

VERIZON FOUNDATION

Verizon supports a variety of brain research projects and organizations across the United States.

WELLCOME TRUST

The UK-based Wellcome Trust invests in a wide range of science research that investigates the biomedical, population health, humanities, and social sciences. 

WHITEHALL FOUNDATION

Supports brain research into mechanisms of behavior. Grants primarily go to principal investigators not receiving substantial federal support, particularly early-career scientists and senior scientists entering new fields of study.