Terre A. Constantine, Brain Research Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: Neurological research and neurological disorders

CONTACT: tconstantine@thebrf.org, 312-759-5150

IP TAKE: A former researcher with firsthand understanding of funding insecurity, Constantine now wants to serve the scientific community by directing money its way. Her organization's focus: all kinds of brain research, with a particular emphasis on understanding autism, Alzheimer's, Parkison's, and schizophrenia.

PROFILE: Finding money for scientific research is a challenge, as any impoverished postdoc can tell you. And with federal dollars for science being cut in the name of short-term deficit concerns, it's lean times in the laboratory these days. Motivated by the struggles of her fellow scientists to secure funding for their work, Terre Constantine hung up her lab coat and got a job in philanthropy. Today, as executive director of the Brain Research Foundation, Constantine helps further scientific research by giving money to people who are trying to solve the mysteries of the human brain. As Constantine says in her bio, "Supporting scientific research can be just as important as performing the actual research itself."

Before she was put in charge of millions of brain-research dollars, Constantine was a researcher herself. She has a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and a Ph.D. in pharmacology, and she did her postdoc at the Scripps Research Institute. For a time she directed the Jack Miller Center for Peripheral Neuropathy at the University of Chicago. In short, when it comes to relating to her grantees, Constantine has been there. She knows what researchers need, and in her role as funder, she is determined to help them get it.

Based in Chicago, the Brain Research Foundation gives out approximately $1 million annually. All recipients are researchers in the area of brain science, which is a pretty broad field. According to the Brain Research Foundation website, grantees can focus on a wide range of areas, including alcoholism, mental retardation, head injuries, sleep apnea, and Fragile X syndrome, to name a few. A list of ongoing research projects is available. 

Interested in getting funding for your own brain research projects? The Brain Research Foundation has a helpful list of grant programs here. And if you'd like to get a better feel for the foundation before submitting a formal application, you can attend its Neuroscience Day, a conference of neuroscientists who discuss the hottest brain research issues.

Also, if you'd like to understand Constantine a little more, she gave an interview of sorts to ChicagoBusiness.com in which she reveals some of her nonscientific interests. Among other things, she has the Black Eyed Peas (!) on her iPod (and Etta James and the Smiths), she reads the Huffington Post and the New York Times (online), she watches the Daily Show (when she has time), and she is the mother of two young children. Oh, and when she wants to communicate scientific issues to nonscientists (such as board members of the Brain Research Foundation), Constantine finds Scientific American articles to be suitably "lay-friendly" for forwarding.