May 2024 NIH BRAIN Initiative Multi-Council Working Group Meeting

Last month, members of the NIH BRAIN Initiative’s Multi-Council Working Group (MCWG) reviewed BRAIN program updates and learned about new and upcoming projects.

On May 14, 2024, the BRAIN Initiative held the 28th meeting of the MCWG, which provides ongoing oversight of the long-term scientific vision of the BRAIN Initiative and regularly offers assessment of the progress of current BRAIN projects and programs. Members discussed updates to the BRAIN Initiative as a whole, as well as specific program updates and new scientific developments.

To begin the meeting, Dr. Susan Weiss, Designated Federal Official of the MCWG, welcomed meeting participants, and Dr. John Ngai, Director of the NIH BRAIN Initiative and MCWG Chair, thanked three departing MCWG members: Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, National Institute on Drug Abuse; Todd Braver, PhD, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health; and Sameer Sheth, MD, PhD, NINDS. Dr. Ngai noted the anticipated departure of Dr. Joshua Gordon, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), who will return to Columbia University as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and thanked Dr. Gordon for NIMH’s leadership and support of the BRAIN Initiative. Dr. Ngai also recognized the recent winners of the Lundbeck Foundation’s The Brain Prize, as well as newly elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Ngai reviewed the historical and Fiscal Year 2024 BRAIN Initiative budgets; additional information for grantees and the broader neuroscience research community can be found in a Director’s Corner blog post and the BRAIN Initiative website. He emphasized the BRAIN Initiative’s goal to improve the diversity of BRAIN Initiative investigators and study participants, noting the requirement for BRAIN Initiative grant applications to include a Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP). Dr. Ngai then highlighted some BRAIN events, including the 10th Annual BRAIN Initiative conference on June 17-18, 2024, with an early career researcher event on Sunday, June 16.

Several new scientific findings and developments from the BRAIN Initiative were highlighted during the meeting, including (1) new rabies virus vectors to enable multi-scale neural circuit mapping and (2) reconstruction of a petavoxel fragment of human cerebral cortex at nanoscale resolution.

Dr. Sarah (Holly) Lisanby, MD, NIMH, presented on the Brain Behavior Quantification and Synchronization (BBQS) Program, which was initiated to develop tools, platforms, theories, computational models, and a cross-disciplinary consortium that support the quantification of behaviors as multi-dimensional responses with high resolution and can establish casual brain/behavior relationships. The program has four emphasis areas: organismal behavior (RFA-DA-24-042), human clinical neuroscience (RFA-MH-23-335), sensors technology (NOT-MH-24-125), and a data archive, coordination, and artificial intelligence center (RFA-MH-23-130).

The meeting concluded with a new funding concept presentation by Natalie Trzcinski, PhD, NINDS, on promoting equity through BRAIN Initiative technology dissemination partnerships. The overall long-term goal of this concept is to increase the impact of the BRAIN Initiative through the dissemination and integration of validated BRAIN Initiative tools to investigators at institutions that historically have not received NIH support. The concept’s short-term goal is to support collaborations between resource-limited institutions and BRAIN Initiative technologists. For more details, please view the MCWG meeting summary(pdf, 129 KB) and videocast.

Want to stay updated on the latest BRAIN Initiative activities? Tune in to the next MCWG meeting on August 22, 2024, via NIH Videocast!

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black and white image of people working on laptops at a counter height table on stools at the annual BRAIN meeting