Our History

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation began as a family movement in 1981 and has become the world’s leading private funder of mental health research. The first NARSAD Grants were awarded in 1987.

Started by a small group of family and friends of the mentally ill determined to increase the pace of research to find the causes, better treatments and cures for mental illnesses, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation was originally incorporated in 1981 as the American Schizophrenia Foundation. It was developed and agreed to by three leading national mental health organizations: National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, National Mental Health Association and National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association. In 1985, the organization became the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). In 2011, the organization rebranded itself, becoming the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, awarding NARSAD Grants to fund research in every major area of brain and behavior research for all mental illness. Since awarding the first NARSAD Grant in 1987, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded more than $365 million to fund more than 5,000 grants to more than 4,000 scientists around the world.


The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation invests in scientific research and believes that science is the purveyor of hope for improving the lives of the mentally ill.  

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation supports broad-based mental health research by the best and brightest in their fields that leads to greater understanding of the causes of mental illnesses, better ways to treat and control them, and ultimately, we hope, to preventing these illnesses from occurring.


The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation supports innovative research studies that offer the potential for breakthrough discoveries.

These discoveries are definitively changing what it means to live with mental illness. NARSAD Grants are awarded with the following three research priorities in mind: Basic Research, New Technologies, Next Generation Therapies. Foundation-funded research has contributed to:

  • Basic Research- The discovery of “susceptibility genes,” deepening our understanding of causes and risk factors for mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
  • New Technologies- Innovative treatments for severe depression when drug therapy fails including deep brain stimulation, optogenetics, and transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Diagnostic Tools/Early Intervention - Understanding that the treatment of inflammation levels can improve symptoms of depression and that a simple blood test can detect antidepressant response.
  • Next Generation Therapies - The development of new medications for the 30 percent of people with schizophrenia who do not respond to traditional drug therapy


The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awards the most promising research by the most talented scientists.

  • The prestigious Scientific Council, a volunteer body of 173 leading neuroscientists, including two Nobel Prize winners and four former directors of the National Institute of Mental Health, rigorously reviews and selects research proposals to identify the most outstanding projects for funding.
  • The initial funding Brain & Behavior Research Foundation provides to early-career scientists for a pilot study frequently leads to larger federal and private grants to expand their research programs. For more senior scientists, Foundation funding allows them to pursue novel approaches to their research.


The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation provides an opportunity for family and friends of the mentally ill to be part of the solution to mental illness.

By investing in research and offering public education seminars and symposia where scientists and families can share new discoveries, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and its donors are making potential cures for mental illness a possibility.