Doing the Numbers on the Latest NARSAD Grants

The latest round of Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) Young Investigator Grants are in, so let's take a look at the numbers. (See Brain and Behavior Research Foundation: Grants for Mental Health.)

The foundation's Young Investigator Grants, also known as "NARSAD" (perhaps it will never be able to leave that acronym behind), totaled $11.8 million over 200 gifts. The object,, as always, is to support bold and novel research that might not be able to draw funding from other, more conservative funders. BBRF reported nearly 1,200 applicants this year, which were reviewed by a council of 138 brain and behavior research experts. Volunteers, believe it or not.

The council is searching for researchers whose ideas are interesting but unproven. With any luck, those chosen will go on to receive funding from larger, more traditional grantmakers such as the National Institute of Mental Health. BBRF simply aims to be the first. Doing the numbers on the various subject areas of this year's grants paints a picture of the BBRF's funding priorities at the present, and perhaps in the future.

The majority of grants — just over a quarter — went to researchers studying schizophrenia. Just under a quarter went to mood disorders, with the focus split pretty evenly between bipolar, major depression, and unipolar. The "multiple focus" subject area was the next most popular, with about 20% of grants. Most were for studying both anxiety and mood disorders, but a fair number looked at autism and schizophrenia.

Just over 10% of the grants were for anxiety disorders. A little under 10% were for pervasive development disorders, with nearly all going to autism (but a couple for Fragile X). Researchers looking into addiction and attention deficit disorder each received around 3% of the grants.

So what's the story here? The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation has a big focus on schizophrenia. (Read CEO Jeffrey Borenstein's IP profile.) Notice that even in the "multiple focus" area, many of the grants touched on that disorder. But as always, mood disorders pulled in a lot of funding.

Take notes! The 2014 NARSAD grants are just around the corner.