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NIH Announces Third Round of BRAIN Initiative Funding, Nearly Doubling Its Investment

Legislative Update
October 13, 2016

With the September 30, 2016, end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, on October 13 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced its third round of grants to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, bringing NIH’s total FY2016 investment to more than $150 million. With $46 million initially awarded in FY2014 and $38 million of new funding awarded in FY2015 for a two-year total of $84 million, the FY2016 new funding of more than $70 million—reflecting more than 100 new awards to over 170 investigators working at 60 institutions—nearly doubles the NIH’s total investment in the BI.

The FY2016 awards expand upon NIH’s efforts to develop new tools and technologies to understand neural circuit function and capture a dynamic view of the brain in action.

Vision researchers, as well as researchers studying brain connections through the visual route, have done well in the first two rounds of BI funding. The National Eye Institute (NEI) has reviewed the grant history for all key personnel from each of the 67 new BRAIN awards issued in FY2015, with 14 of the 67, or 21 percent, including a current or former NEI grantee. This reflects $10.7 million, or 28 percent, of the total new $38 million in funding. In the first round of BI funding, the NEI reported that of the 58 total BI awards, 18 went to teams with NEI-supported Principal Investigators (PIs), while another six were vision-centered proposals, and out of the $46 million awarded, $16 million went to the teams with NEI-supported PIs, while another $6 million went to the vision-centered proposals. This has resulted in “vision” researchers receiving $32.7 million in the first two rounds of funding.

The BI, announced in April 2013 by President Obama, was proposed to be funded in FY2014 at $110 million, with $40 million from NIH, $50 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and $20 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), in addition to funding from private foundations, private research institutions, and industry. NIH’s initial $40 million commitment grew by $6 million by the time that the initial awards were announced.