Location: New York, NY
Mission: The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research.
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funds the most innovative ideas in neuroscience and psychiatry to better understand the causes and develop new ways to treat brain and behavior disorders. These disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $346 million to fund more than 4,000 leading scientists around the world.
Since the war on cancer was declared almost 50 years ago, billions of dollars have poured into cancer research. Only a fraction of those dollars are spent on mental health research, though it is impossible to overstate its economic, social and personal toll on society. One in four people live with mental illness. One in five youngsters has a mental illness and tragically suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between ages 15-24.
“We have seen tremendous scientific advances, but we need to expand basic, translational and clinical research to better understand the workings of the brain and why things go wrong, and test new medical and psycho-social approaches,” said Jeff Borenstein, M.D., president & CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. “It is time to declare war on mental illness, and place a priority on funding innovative neurobiological research for better prevention, diagnosis, early intervention, and treatment. We also need to raise awareness, eliminate stigma, and remove barriers to treatment.”
Dr. Borenstein said a major challenge faced by the research community is the funding for research, which is not yet at the level required to meet the need. “Scarce resources mean more competition for federal grants, lab closures and fewer incentives to pursue scientific careers which put us at great risk of losing an entire generation of scientists,” Dr. Borenstein added.
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is combating this brain drain through a funding model that supports scientists at every stage of their careers and gives young investigators a leg up.
Grants are focused on three priority areas: 1) basic research - to understand what happens in the brain to cause mental illness; 2) new technologies - to advance or create new ways of studying and understanding the brain; and 3) next generation therapies - to reduce symptoms of mental illness and ultimately cure and prevent brain and behavior disorders.
This model allows the Foundation to support new ideas that ultimately become the next generation of treatments and technologies for the field of psychiatry--like new and promising technologies such as optogenetics, and next generation therapies such as deep brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation. All three of these important breakthroughs received initial key support from the Foundation’s grants.
The Foundation also offers events and materials to raise awareness and educate the public. Each month they hold a free webinar featuring a leading mental health researcher. The Quarterly magazine, written for a lay audience, addresses parenting, illness research, and new technologies. An annual NY Mental Health Research Symposium, where leading researchers present cutting edge discoveries; Women’s Luncheon: Women Breaking Silence on Mental Illness, features a conversation between Hearst Magazine editorial director Ellen Levine and leading advocates for mental health. Healthy Minds, a Foundation produced public television series, is dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with mental illness by sharing cutting-edge information (including the latest research advances), along with personal experiences from people who live with psychiatric conditions.
Over the past 29 years, the Foundation has been responsible for seeding the research of a generation of brilliant young neuroscientists. This seed money, along with subsequent government funding serves as a model for private / public support for research. The Foundation believes a combination of funding for high-risk, high reward research will generate significant scientific discoveries that will change lives and end the suffering that psychiatric illness brings so many.
“I applaud Research!America and its commitment to making research to improve health a higher national priority,” said Dr. Borenstein. “I am certain that advances in treatment which will result from research will help people with a mental illness live full, productive and happy lives.”