ACD BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0
The major objective of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative®, announced in April 2013, is to develop new tools and technologies to understand and manipulate networks of cells (e.g. circuits) in the brain. The Advisory Committee of the (NIH) Director (ACD) enthusiastically endorsed BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision as the strategic plan for the NIH BRAIN Initiative. Reflecting the thoughtful, scholarly work of the first ACD BRAIN Initiative Working Group and incorporating input from many public workshops, BRAIN 2025 coalesced support for BRAIN across the neuroscience community and provided the framework for NIH's implementation of this Initiative. Consistent with the BRAIN 2025 report, in the second five years of the BRAIN Initiative, NIH plans to build on its current emphasis on technology development with an added focus on the production and dissemination of resources for understanding the brain. This new working group (2.0) will revisit the 2025 report's priorities through the lens of progress to date, rising scientific opportunities, and the new set of tools and technologies emerging from BRAIN.
The BRAIN Initiative has been integrating technologies and conceptual approaches on all fronts, ranging from mapping cell types and monitoring circuits for understanding their function, to technology dissemination and therapy development. The 21st Century Cures Innovation Fund provides $1.5 Billion through 2026, on top of the regular NIH BRAIN Initiative appropriation. NIH is taking a flexible approach with these Innovation funds, applying them across the priority areas of 2025, including use for competing and non-competing awards, and multi-year projects. These funds offer a unique opportunity to invest across the research priorities and core principles endorsed by the ACD, and updated by the new working group, to accelerate progress rapidly toward the audacious goals of the Initiative.
Ultimately, these investments will lead to a better understanding of the human brain and pave the way for prevention, intervention, and cures for devastating brain disorders. Despite remarkable insights about how individual brain cells and synapses work, neuroscience has not yet decoded how neural circuits carry out complex, higher functions of the brain, nor do we understand clearly what goes wrong in neuro/mental/substance use disorders. The BRAIN Initiative arose to tackle these challenges, building upon advances from diverse fields of science and technology. As befits the ambitious scope, the Initiative coordinates investment across multiple NIH institutes, federal agencies, and private groups, and has spurred multiple international brain research efforts. Although the BRAIN 2025 report set an overarching vision and specific goals for the BRAIN Initiative — for which significant progress has been made — the report also noted that the Initiative must adapt in response to the evolving scientific landscape.
This new, ACD BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0 will provide scientific guidance to the ACD on how best to accomplish the ambitious vision for the BRAIN Initiative, considering the current state of neuroscience.
Consistent with this charge, this ACD-WG will:
- Review BRAIN Initiative activities and progress to date
- With BRAIN 2025 as a guide:
- Suggest changes to specific goals from the BRAIN 2025 report in response to the evolving scientific landscape
- Identify new opportunities for research and technology development, within a solid ethical framework, to ensure the research is of the utmost value to the public it intends to serve
- Consider unique opportunities for the BRAIN Initiative to train and empower the broader neuroscience research community
Process, Deliverables, and Timeframe
This working group of the ACD will:
- Seek input broadly from the scientific community, patient advocates, and the general public
- Hold open meetings and workshops on specific topics as needed
- Update the ACD regularly on progress
- Deliver to the ACD an interim report with an initial list of high‐priority areas for FY20 funding in December, 2018
- Present its final report — an updated Strategic Plan — to the full ACD at its June 2019 meeting.