Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Invests $11.9 Million in NARSAD Grants for a New Generation of Mental Health Research

Posted: August 16, 2012


Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Invests $11.9 Million in NARSAD Grants for a New Generation of Mental Health Research

(GREAT NECK, N.Y. – August 16, 2012) The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has announced $11.9 million in new research grants, strengthening its investment in the most promising ideas to lead to breakthroughs in understanding and treating mental illness.

The 132-member Foundation Scientific Council, a volunteer group of preeminent mental health researchers, leads the rigorous selection process of identifying the most promising ideas for NARSAD Grants. This year, they reviewed applications from 1,030 researchers seeking NARSAD Young Investigator Grants—a grant program that has been the driving force behind thousands of scientific achievements for the past 25 years. From this group, 202 researchers were selected to receive NARSAD Young Investigator Grants to support their innovative research.

Receiving up to $60,000 over two years, Young Investigators pursue brain and behavior research related to depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety disorders like obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders.  

NARSAD Grants support research across disciplines in four main categories:

  • Basic Research—to understand what happens in the brain to cause mental illness
  • New Technologies—to advance or create new ways of studying and understanding the brain
  • Diagnostic Tools / Early Intervention—to recognize early signs of mental illness and treat it as early as possible
  • Next Generation Therapies—to reduce symptoms and retrain the brain.

NARSAD Young Investigator Grants have proven to be catalysts for additional funding once the Young Investigators have “proof of concept” for their hypotheses. On average, NARSAD Young Investigator Grantees receive an additional 11-19 times their original grant amount in subsequent funding and some have gone on to receive significantly more than that. Since 1987 the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded nearly $300 million in over 4,000 NARSAD Grants to more than 3,300 scientists around the world. The grants are among the most competitive in biomedical research because of the great ability and career success of the applicants.

The Young Investigator selection process was led by Scientific Council Member Dr. Herbert Meltzer of Northwestern University, a founding member of the Council. “The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the United States and other developed countries are caused by mental illness. They estimate that by 2020, major depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children,” Dr. Meltzer said. “Support for the NARSAD Young Investigator Grant program is a proven and effective way to help further the massive effort needed to conquer mental illness. It is especially important now because of the reduced ability of governments, industry, and academic medical centers to fund research and treatment programs.”

“The NARSAD Young Investigator Grants have led to groundbreaking and important new research that has improved  the lives of people living with mental illness through enhanced treatments and therapies and a better understanding of the causes of mental illness,” said Benita Shobe, President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

One example is Helen S. Mayberg, M.D. of Emory University School of Medicine, whose pioneering NARSAD-Grant funded research led to the use of Deep Brain Stimulation to target ‘Area 25,’ an area identified as a locus of pathology in depression. While there are less than 100 people who have had the experimental DBS treatment for depression to date, the published research reports from several different centers show long-term sustained benefit from continued DBS. Formal clinical trials are now in process.

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is dedicated to identifying the causes, improving treatments and developing prevention strategies for mental illnesses that affect an overwhelming one-in-four people in the United States. One hundred percent of all donor contributions for research are invested in NARSAD Grants. The Foundation was formerly known as NARSAD (an acronym for National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression).

Click here for a complete list of Young Investigators and their research.