Tri-Institutional Partnership: BRAIN R&D Initiative to support innovative neurotechnology

February 2014

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), U.C. Berkeley (Berkeley), and U.C. San Francisco (UCSF) have formed a new partnership to encourage collaborative research among the three institutions.

This Tri-Institutional Partnership will support science and technology initiatives and projects with the intent of catalyzing bold, potentially transformative collaborative research among the three institutions, and positioning the institutions favorably for follow-on extramural funding.

We are launching this new initiative with a seed funding program that will address innovative neurotechnology research in response to the Presidential BRAIN Initiative. The partnership will support new collaborative projects that strengthen the abilities of the partners to forge a strong Bay Area neurotechnology collaboration responsive to national needs.

The intent of the Tri-Institutional Partnership and seed funding is to inspire synergies (current and potential) across partner institutions, making connections that don’t already exist.  To qualify for seed funding, a project must include at least two of the partner institutions. Projects that involve all three institutions are encouraged.  Involvement of each of the collaborative partners is expected to be substantive and necessary for the successful completion of the project.

Successful proposals will describe how the support will enable (for example, through the generation of necessary preliminary data, analyses or prototypes) a clear path from concept to the development of a competitive proposal for outside funding.  Innovative projects that engage a broad range of disciplines are especially encouraged.

The project performance period is for one to two years, subject to a successful annual renewal of progress. Funding requests should generally fall within the range of $50K to $400K per year in total across participating partners, depending on the project’s specific aims, scope and approach. The number, duration and budget size of funded projects will be based on the portfolio of projects selected within available funding.  A Coordinating Group[1] will work with institutional staff to identify appropriate technical area expertise for proposal reviews.  Final decisions will be made jointly by the LBNL Deputy Director, and the Berkeley and UCSF Vice Chancellors for Research. 

The proposed innovative technologies should target major gaps in our current knowledge of and provide unprecedented opportunities for exploring the brain. Areas likely to be supported are summarized below with related URLs for further information.

  • Advance current optogenetic techniques in model systems
  • Develop next generation nanoscale probes, which would allow high-frequency and high spatial resolution recording (and stimulation) from a large number of sites.
  • Generate a Census of Cell Types
  • Create Structural Maps of the Brain
  • Develop New Large‐Scale Network Recording Capabilities
  • Develop A Suite of Tools for Circuit Manipulation
  • Link Neuronal Activity to Behavior
  • Integrate Theory, Modeling, Statistics, and Computation with Experimentation
  • Delineate Mechanisms Underlying Human Imaging Technologies
  • Create Mechanisms to Enable Collection of Human Data
  • Advance quantitative and predictive theories of brain function
  • Create innovative technologies to understand and enhance brain function or treat brain disorders;
  • Develop cyber tools and standards for data acquisition, analysis and integration
  • Create multi-scale and multimodal modeling to relate dynamic brain activity to cognition and behavior
  • Generate comparative analyses across species

The seminal paper on the BRAIN Initiative was featured in the Journal Neuron.

More information may be found here:

A Proposers’ Day will be held where additional information will be provided regarding program objectives, process, and requirements of the seed funding program.  Proposers’ Day will also be a forum for success stories and for interested researchers to talk.  Stay tuned for more information.

Submission Deadline:  April 23, 2014

Award Effective Date:  July 1, 2014

Email contact:

[1] BRAIN R&D Initiative Coordinating Group:  Peter Denes / LBNL (, Udi Isacoff / UCB (, Eddie Chang / UCSF (