It’s no secret that the price of many drugs is greatly increased due to the extensive research costs that pharmaceutical companies incur before bringing a new drug to market. They don’t like the fact that their medications cost more, but the average person realizes that they don’t just magically make it into a doctor’s office or onto a supermarket’s shelves.
Of course, the average pharmaceutical company is a multibillion-dollar organization that has the deep pockets necessary to fund years of research. On the other hand, there are many researchers looking for the “next big discovery” in science that don’t have those same deep pockets.
For these researchers and their teams, the 36 Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) being awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) are a true godsend.
Each award, worth $300,000, will pay for two years of research and is being given in support of the BRAIN Initiative started by President Barack Obama. That initiative seeks to look into the fundamental questions about how the human brain works, and the NSF grants will be used to do just that.
Teams of researchers will be using the 36 grants being given to research such things as the theories of neural networks, next-generation optogenetics and a wide range of tools to map and to create images of the human brain.
In fact, the EAGER grants will be supporting a total of 76 researchers with expertise in a wide range of scientific and engineering fields. The majority is based in the United States but there are also three projects that involve collaborative teams from different countries.
NSF Director France Córdova said that “Progress towards the goals of the BRAIN Initiative and our comprehension of the brain and behavior requires that scientists and engineers from diverse disciplines work together,” adding that the “NSF is proud to invest in collaborative, fundamental projects that incubate innovative ideas in this exciting area of inquiry.”
Calling all Brain Researchers
It was back in March 2014 that the NSF first asked researchers to submit their ideas. They were specifically looking for groundbreaking approaches to reveal how the brain works, inviting full proposals from those researchers who believed that their ideas were best aligned with the research topics that the NSF was looking for.
While the researchers who have been awarded these NSF grants are certainly grateful, the fact is that the EAGER awards aren’t the only BRAIN Initiative activities that have been undertaken so far in 2014.
One of the most talked about is the new MIT-based Science and Technology Center for Brains, Minds and Machines. John Wingfield, the associate director for the Biological Sciences Directorate arm of the NSF, says that “The Research Community is well poised to tackle the challenges associated with understanding neural circuitry,” adding that With NSS support, we expect these investments to lead to significant steps toward inventive new tools and technologies catching the brain in action.”
For 76 fortunate researchers, the NSF EAGER Grants are going to do just that.