Understanding the BRAIN Initiative Budget


Each year, the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® Initiative, or The BRAIN Initiative®, receives its budget from the United States Congress. The NIH BRAIN Initiative is made up of, and managed by, 10 Institutes and Centers (IC) at NIH, whose missions and current research portfolios both complement and benefit from the goals of the BRAIN Initiative.

The NIH BRAIN Initiative is funded by Congress from two streams:

  1. As line items in the budgets of the 10 BRAIN Initiative ICs. This is known as the base allocation.
  2. From funding authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act. The Cures Act funding is a congressional supplement signed into law in 2016 and designed to boost key innovation programs, such as the BRAIN Initiative, with predetermined, varying annual amounts starting in fiscal year (FY) 2017 and ending in FY 2026.
Brain Initiative Budget chart for Fiscal Years 2014 - 2024
BRAIN Initiative Budget for Fiscal Years 2014 - 2024 (Dollars in Millions) for base allocations and 21st Century Cures Act authorization. 21st Century Cures Act authorization jumped from $152 million in FY 2022 to $450 million in FY 2023, representing an increase of $298 million. In FY 2023, Congress reduced the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s base allocation by $238 million, bringing it down to $230 million. BRAIN’s total allocation for FY 2023 still reflected a $60 million increase, from $620 million to $680 million ($450 million from 21st Century Cures Act plus $230 million in base funding). In FY 2024 (current year funding), the base allocation remained flat at $230 million and the 21st Century Cures Act funds dropped to $172 million (as determined in advance), resulting in a total allocation of $402 million for BRAIN, or 40% less than the FY 2023 budget. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to both general questions we have received about the NIH BRAIN Initiative's budget and questions specifically for researchers. We will continue to update the community as new information becomes available.

About the NIH BRAIN Initiative budget

How does FY 2024 funding compare to previous years?

The FY 2024 budget was passed by Congress and signed by the President in March. The budget includes $402 million for the BRAIN Initiative. This represents a $278 million decrease from the FY 2023 appropriation of $680 million, due to an anticipated drop in 21st Century Cures Act funding and a decrease in the BRAIN Initiative’s base allocation.

To further explain:

  • 21st Century Cures Act authorization jumped from $152 million in FY 2022 to $450 million in FY 2023, representing an increase of $298 million.
  • In FY 2023, Congress reduced the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s base allocation by $238 million, bringing it down to $230 million. BRAIN’s total allocation for FY 2023 still reflected a $60 million increase, from $620 million to $680 million ($450 million from 21st Century Cures Act plus $230 million in base funding).
  • In FY 2024 (current year funding), the base allocation remained flat at $230 million and the 21st Century Cures Act funds dropped to $172 million (as determined in advance), resulting in a total allocation of $402 million for BRAIN, or 40% less than the FY 2023 budget.

What are the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s research priorities?

  • NIH BRAIN Initiative projects span a range of disciplines, each one embodying what remains central to the Initiative—inclusive, collaborative, open, and ethical neuroscience.
  • BRAIN Initiative research results to date have allowed us to measure both brain function and brain dysfunction much more precisely, which provides a path to new precision treatments that can be tested in individuals with brain disorders.

High-priority projects will continue to focus on platform tools, technologies, and other resources that will accelerate discovery across the NIH neuroscience portfolio. Looking ahead, BRAIN will be placing an emphasis on:

  • Investing in the development and training of early-stage investigators;
  • Building a sustainable future for three large-scale, transformative projects known as the BRAIN Initiative Cell Atlas Network (BICAN), the BRAIN Initiative Connectivity Across Scales program (BRAIN CONNECTS), and the Armamentarium for Precision Brain Cell Access; and
  • Establishing the Brain Behavior Quantification and Synchronization (BBQS) program, which aims to define how the brain controls behavior.

Based on the decrease in BRAIN funding for FY 2024, are there specific areas of research that will be more affected than others?

We are looking closely at all of our programs and will make decisions about areas we can curtail that will have the least impact on the momentum we’ve built over the past decade.

When could more funding get appropriated to the NIH BRAIN Initiative?

Funds are provided to the BRAIN Initiative on an annual basis by Congress. We will know the level of funding once the budget for FY 2025 is enacted. This budget would cover Oct. 1, 2024September 30, 2025.

What happens to the BRAIN Initiative after 21st Century Cures Act money runs out in FY2026?  

We are grateful for Congress’s support of the BRAIN Initiative since it launched in 2014. While Cures Act funding expires after FY2026, the NIH BRAIN Initiative will continue to fund groundbreaking research as long as Congress continues to provide base funding to the 10 BRAIN Institutes and Centers in the annual appropriations process. The level of funding will determine the size and scope of the program. 


For researchers

I’m planning to submit an application for an upcoming receipt date for a BRAIN funding announcement; should I still submit it?

The BRAIN Initiative continues to fund highly meritorious grant applications. However, our current budget requires us to be even more selective in supporting applications for funding. Current NIH BRAIN Initiative funding opportunities can be found on the BRAIN Initiative website; potential applicants should check here before preparing an application for BRAIN funding. As always, we encourage applicants to follow and search the NIH Guide to find funding opportunities that best fit their proposed projects. Parent announcement mechanisms may be good options; we encourage applicants to speak with NIH program staff to discuss their options for securing competitive federal funding to support their research.

My application scored well; will it be funded?

All applications received in response to a BRAIN Initiative funding opportunity are reviewed for scientific and technical merit by scientific peer review. Well-scoring applications are then prioritized for funding, based on relevance of the proposed project to NIH program priorities, including the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) and the availability of funds. However, the only way to definitively know if an application has been funded is through the issuance of a Notice of Award. Applicants are encouraged to reach out to NIH program staff with further questions.

Are you still funding supplements? Is it worth submitting an application?

The BRAIN Initiative will consider highly meritorious supplement applications including administrative, diversity, re-entry/re-integration/re-training, and continuity supplements.

I am a multiple principal investigator/principal investigator on an active BRAIN award; will the budget be reduced?

It depends. Active non-competing BRAIN Initiative awards will be subject to a 10% budget reduction for FY 2024. This reduction in funds does not apply to the following activities: F99, F32, K00, K99, R21, R25, R34, SBIR/STTR, and diversity supplements.

Due to the budget reduction, I’m unable to complete my project as planned; can I renegotiate my milestones or aims?

With some budget reductions, you may need to revise the scope of your project. In some circumstances, this may require prior approval from the NIH. Please reach out to your NIH program officer to discuss this process and the available options.

Have any actions been taken to cancel existing funding opportunities or receipt dates?

In this fiscal year (FY24), the BRAIN Initiative received a 40% decrease to its budget. This not only impacts our ability to support grants in FY24, but into the next fiscal year as well. The Office of the BRAIN Director and BRAIN Initiative team members have examined current and pending funding opportunities. The table below outlines the actions we’ve taken to cancel funding opportunities and receipt dates managed by the National Eye Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Title NOFO/Notice Number
Notice of Change: Termination of RFA-MH-23-110 "BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)" NOT-MH-24-315
Notice of Change: Termination of RFA-MH-22-145, BRAIN Initiative: Standards to Define Experiments Related to the BRAIN Initiative (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) NOT-MH-24-295
Notice of Change: Cancellation of RFA-NS-22-041 "BRAIN Initiative: Research Opportunities Using Invasive Neural Recording and Stimulating Technologies in the Human Brain (U01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)" NOT-NS-24-090
Notice of Change: Cancellation of RFA-NS-23-024 "BRAIN Initiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Projects- TargetedBCP (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)"  NOT-NS-24-088
Notice of change to receipt date for RFA-NS-23-023: BRAIN Initiative: Targeted BRAIN Circuits Planning Projects TargetedBCPP (R34 Clinical Trials Not Allowed) NOT-NS-24-083
Notice of Change: Cancellation of RFA-NS-23-025 "BRAIN Initiative: Exploratory Team-Research BRAIN Circuit Programs - eTeamBCP (U01 Clinical Trials Optional)" NOT-NS-24-087
Notice of Cancellation of the June 07, 2024, Application Receipt Date for RFA-MH-24-280 "BRAIN Initiative: Development and Validation of Novel Tools to Probe Cell-Specific and Circuit-Specific Processes in the Brain (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)" NOT-MH-24-275
Notice of Cancellation of the June 18, 2024 Application Receipt Date for RFA-EY-23-001 "BRAIN Initiative: New Concepts and Early-Stage Research for Recording and Modulation in the Nervous System (R21) (Clinical Trial Not Allowed)"  NOT-EY-24-005


BRAIN by the Numbers
View or download a snapshot of the BRAIN Initiative’s scientific accomplishments.

Related Topics

Recent Director’s Messages Announcing Yearly Appropriations