National Institutes of Health

National Institutes of Health & The BRAIN Initiative®

The NIH component of the BRAIN Initiative is guided by its long-term scientific plan, BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision, which includes seven high-priority research areas.

Scientific areas include discovering the diversity of brain cell types to determine their roles in health and disease, creating maps at multiple scales from synapses to the whole brain, imaging the brain in action, linking brain activity to behavior, developing theoretical and data analysis tools, and advancing human neuroscience with innovative stimulating and recording technologies. Finally, it will be important to integrate technological and conceptual approaches to understand brain function in both health and disease.

As the NIH BRAIN Initiative approached its halfway point, a new Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) assessed BRAIN’s progress and advances within the context of the original BRAIN 2025 report, identified key opportunities to apply new and emerging tools to revolutionize our understanding of brain circuits, and designated valuable areas of continued technology development.  Alongside, the BRAIN Neuroethics Subgroup was tasked with considering the ethical implications of ongoing research and forecasting what the future of BRAIN advancements might entail, crafting a neuroethics “roadmap” for the Initiative. The reports, The BRAIN Initiative 2.0: From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures and The BRAIN Initiative® and Neuroethics: Enabling and Enhancing Neuroscience Advances for Society were endorsed by the ACD on October 21, 2019. NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins accepted the ACD endorsed reports and NIH will carefully consider how to integrate both sets of findings in future BRAIN Initiative priorities and investments.



About The NIH

NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

The goals of the agency are:

  • to foster fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies, and their applications as a basis for ultimately protecting and improving health;
  • to develop, maintain, and renew scientific human and physical resources that will ensure the Nation’s capability to prevent disease;
  • to expand the knowledge base in medical and associated sciences in order to enhance the Nation’s economic well-being and ensure a continued high return on the public investment in research; and
  • to exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science.

In realizing these goals, the NIH provides leadership and direction to programs designed to improve the health of the Nation by conducting and supporting research:

  • in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and cure of human diseases;
  • in the processes of human growth and development;
  • in the biological effects of environmental contaminants;
  • in the understanding of mental, addictive and physical disorders; and
  • in directing programs for the collection, dissemination, and exchange of information in medicine and health, including the development and support of medical libraries and the training of medical librarians and other health information specialists.

NIH's Awards

Since 2014, the NIH has supported over 900 projects from cross-disciplinary researchers tackling the goals of the Initiative. Click here to read about our BRAIN awards.