The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a federal agency supporting research and education across various fields of science and engineering. They fund research across all 50 states through grants and service contracts.
The NSF has been involved with a lot of innovative brain research, and this trend continues with their participation in a new undertaking that promotes understanding the brain via the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), which was announced by the White House back in April.
“If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas… Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy… Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s… Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.”- President Barack Obama, 2013 State of the Union
The intent of the initiative is to advance understanding of the fundamental principles behind brain function and structure, with the intention of nurturing brain health, regain functionality, and improving quality of life through smarter technologies.
Ultimately the hope is that the knowledge gained from the BRAIN initiative will help find ways to treat and prevent brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and epilepsy.
This will be a huge effort involving both public and private partners across the fields of biology, engineering, chemistry, physics, math, computer science, social and behavioral science, and medicine.
As part of the BRAIN initiative, the NSF announced on Monday that they have awarded a 5-year, $25 million grant to Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study how intelligence is created by the brain, as well as how that process can be reproduced in machines. The money from this grant will go into creation of a Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines (CBMM), that will work together with other institutions, both at home and abroad.
Follow the National Science Foundation on twitter at @NSF, and look for #brain updates to find out more about the research.