Dear Foundation Supporter,
I am writing to share with you major research accomplishments in the effort to overcome mental illness. We hope you will join our program to achieve unprecedented advances in brain and behavior research.
Important leadership in advancing this cause came with last year’s White House announcement of a new “BRAIN Initiative.” This public-private partnership effort aims to map the brain and “unlock its mysteries.” The Federal government has already begun to award grants with its initial $100 million investment.
The co-chair of the BRAIN Advisory Committee, Dr. Cornelia Bargmann, commented in an article in the Winter ’14 Bulletin of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “We think we can leap to the next level of analysis because of progress in many areas of science: in recording neuroactivity with genetically encoded indicators; in developing optics and related instrumentation; in engineering very fast, sensitive cameras that can capture a huge amount of information in a short amount of time.”
Dr. Bargmann went on to point out that optogenetics (a key new technology developed by Dr. Karl Deisseroth of Stanford University, with the support of an early NARSAD Grant in 2005), will play a key role in advancing mental health research. “Today, optogenetics enables us to perturb neural activity or manipulate it to see how it affects behavior. That’s a big shift in the field from an observational to a causal science.” She went on to say that, “It’s been disappointing that drug development for brain disorders and psychiatric diseases has seen little progress over recent years, where the need is so great. Many pharmaceutical companies have pulled out of neuroscience drug development, and many promising avenues have failed despite a lot of effort. Ask industry why they’re backing away from these problems, and they say it is because we don’t understand enough about the brain. Those are our marching orders.”
The “marching orders” of this Foundation are to better understand the brain so we can more accurately understand, treat, and ultimately prevent and cure mental illness. Through our NARSAD Grants, we are committed to funding cutting-edge research projects selected by our distinguished 146-member, all-volunteer Scientific Council.
This link illustrates some of the major research achievements of our grantees in 2013. With further commitment from a broad community of supporters in 2014, we will be able to sustain the momentum in this tremendously dynamic period of brain and behavior research and come closer to overcoming mental illness once and for all.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and support.
Stephen A. Lieber