Get Involved

BRF depends on the support and advocacy of people like you. Be a part of positive change and help expand the reach of neuroscience research.

2023 Discovery Event

The Discovery Event is an important evening that plays a pivotal role in Brain Research Foundation’s ability to fulfill it’s mission to fund the nation’s most innovative neuroscience. Event proceeds support top researchers as they strive to find the treatment and eventual cures of neurological disorders and diseases that affect so many children and adults.

Our annual 2023 Discovery Event panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, November 8th at 6:00 p.m. CST.


BRF Programs

See the impact of brain research funding firsthand. Explore our programs and read about upcoming events focused on various aspects of brain research.

Neuroscience Day

From 1999 to 2018, Brain Research Foundation hosted an Annual Neuroscience Day. This unique forum provided members of the Chicago-area neuroscience community with the opportunity to share interests in an informal setting. The program structure featured presentations by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, stimulating scientific interactions between universities.

Neuroscience Day provided BRF with the ability to foster stronger professional relationships amongst the local neuroscience community and effectively provide an open space for discussion and knowledge-sharing. BRF exists to accelerate discoveries of the human brain by funding pioneering neuroscience research.

The Science of Sex and Attraction

Being at the forefront of neuroscience research allows the Brain Research Foundation to host a series of lectures discussing the most innovative and breakthrough discoveries in neuroscience. 

The Brain Research Foundation proudly partnered with Science is Sexy to unravel the mysteries of love, sex, identity, and the brain.

Who do you love, and how? Northwestern University’s Michael Bailey, Ph.D. has been asking this question for over a decade, and he told us about his research on sexual arousal, sexual orientation, and the genetics of who we are sexually. Why some people are attracted to men, others to women, and others to both men and women is a fascinating and as yet unanswered question. Understanding the origins and development of sexuality and sexual orientation can help us understand the origins and development of sex differences, and adds a scientific perspective to questions that are deeply rooted in our identity as human beings. Michael discussed his fascinating research to better understand the biological aspects of sexual orientation, how our biology intersects with our behavior as sexual beings, and his brain research on sexual arousal and response in people of various sexual orientations. Guests joined us for a thought-provoking evening of scientific discovery from one of Chicago’s leading researchers.  

Our special guests and friends The Think Tank, a neuroscience lab on wheels at The University of Chicago, allowed guests to do their own brain-bending experiments, and play our scientific trivia to win scientific swag. Scientific valentines were on hand to exchange as we unraveled the molecular mysteries behind love, lust, and who we are.

Proper Helmet Fitting

The Brain Research Foundation (BRF) and Prairie State Cycling Series partnered in the 2013 cycling series in the Chicago area to promote key educational initiatives around brain health. The series was in eight locations throughout the area over two weeks in July and drew substantial crowds of spectators and participants. 

BRF’s support of the cycling series aligns with our educational initiative relating to delaying cognitive decline. “Sustaining an exercise regimen from young adulthood through our latter years is perhaps the most simple and powerful tool we have to fend off cognitive decline, like Alzheimer’s, that debilitate an aging population,” states Terre A. Constantine, Ph.D., Executive Director of BRF, “Biking is an activity that people of all ages can do so it is a natural fit for BRF to participate in the series. We were very pleased to learn how passionate Prairie State Cycling Series leadership is about promoting these issues.” 

In addition to our exercise education efforts, BRF promoted proper helmet use among series attendees through demonstrations by BRF staff, offered proper helmet fitting, and provided information about the important research that BRF funds. “These competitive men and women racing around the course in their helmets are terrific role models,” continued Constantine. “And yes, for those of us recreational riders, falls do happen while ‘just going to the corner or up the street’ in our neighborhoods, but concussions can be prevented and head injuries minimized. With the help of Prairie State Cycling Series we will reinforce that message during the series.” 

“We are proud to partner with the BRF to promote a healthy lifestyle and keep our kids safe and concussion-free,” states Marco Colbert, Executive Director of Prairie State Cycling Series. “Coaches teach helmet safety to football and baseball players every season, yet our children are riding their bikes, often unprotected, on concrete! Together we can help change that and bring those messages to our bike race fans.”

Properly Fit Helmets Save Lives – Protect your head and brain every time you ride. Bicycle helmets only provide safety when they are properly fitted, adjusted, and worn. A bicycle crash can happen at any time. A properly fitted bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Helmets are the single most effective way to prevent head injuries resulting from bicycle crashes. Wearing a helmet each ride can encourage the same smart behavior in others.

Follow the instructions on this flyer and learn how to properly fit a bicycle helmet.

BRF Grant to Study Concussive Events Among Grade School Children

In 2012, BRF gave a $30,000 grant to fund research at the Institute for Sports Medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The grant funded research that aims to improve pediatricians’ ability to evaluate and manage sports-related concussive injuries among young children, and guide future research regarding the diagnosis, treatment and long term effects of these events.

Although clinical tools to measure concussive recovery are available, their efficacy is based on research with college and high school aged athletes. Post concussion cognitive tests have not been validated for use with grade school athletes. “Data is vitally needed to identify valid and reliable clinical tools pediatricians can use to measure concussive recovery in younger children,” states Terre Constantine, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Foundation. “In time, this funding will help advance clinical practices when pediatricians face these injuries among younger patients. Through our work as an advocate of education around the long term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) we have identified the gap in clinical tools for sports-related head injuries in grade school children.”

Cynthia LaBella, M.D. led the research team. At the time, Dr. LaBella was the Medical Director for the Institute for Sports Medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Associate Professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “As one of a small number of academic pediatric sports medicine departments in the country, we are intimately aware of the unique needs of children and adolescents suffering sports-related concussions,” stated Dr. LaBella. “We believe that BRF’s grant will help mitigate some of the challenges pediatricians encounter while evaluating and managing concussions in this young population.”

Impact on Sports: Local Initiative to Better Concussion Protocols

A previous BRF study on the awareness of sports-related head injuries indicated that coaches, trainers, and physicians who steward young athletes are not adequately educated about concussions. To contribute to the solution in the local community, BRF provided a $50,000 grant designed to improve the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) ability to respond to sports-related head injuries. The grant was awarded to Sports Legacy Institute which works with CPS to conduct education seminars throughout the city and support clinics where student athletes who suffered a head injury can be assessed by a trained medical professional. “This educational grant supports efforts to reduce risks associated with sports-related head injuries by providing funding for clinics that will treat injured CPS student athletes,” stated BRF executive director Terre Constantine.

When Chicago Alderman Ed Burke attended the 2010 BRF Discovery Dinner, he learned of the national movement to adopt new laws related to the care of young athletes with head injuries.  The dinner included a panel focused on sports-related brain injuries among youth. Alderman Burke went to work right away with his colleague Alderman Latasha Thomas to move the City of Chicago forward in adopting an ordinance to do the same.

Passed by the city council in January 2011, the ordinance requires any Chicago student-athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms, or behaviors associated with a concussion be removed from a game or practice and barred from returning without written medical clearance. Schools not enforcing the ordinance risk losing their water and sewage exemption under the ordinance.In discussing the ordinance, Alderman Burke said, “The most important part of this is public education…to persuade parents that putting their kids back in the game after a head injury is a recipe for disaster. We understand the competitive nature of sports and how parents want their children to be competitive. But, there has to be some caution.”

To learn more about the panel discussion, check out the video here.

Ways to Give

Every gift you give is meaningful to BRF, whether in volunteering time or donating money. If you choose to donate, you can make a tax-deductible gift today, or plan for your giving the future in the following ways:


To make the process of legacy giving easy, BRF has partnered with FreeWill to provide our community with a free estate planning tool. FreeWill’s secure online tool guides you through writing a legally valid will or trust in about 20 minutes. As you write your will, FreeWill presents you with the opportunity to make a planned gift to BRF on your terms. Write your free will today!.

If you have already chosen to invlude the BRF in your estate plans, please fill out this form, so we can update our records and thank you for making our mission a part of your legacy!

Non-probate assets

Do you have an IRA, 401(k), life insurance policy, or any other asset that your will does not cover? These are called non-probate assets and it’s important that you set your beneficiaries for them separately. You can even use FreeWill to designate BRF as a beneficiary of these assets to advance our innovation for years to come. FreeWill also provides easy-to-follow instructions on how to update the institutions where your non-probate assets are held if you need to set or change designations from time to time. Get started naming your beneficiaries with FreeWill.

IRA Giving

If you are 70.5 or older, IRA gifts are a powerful way to support BRF, and reduce your future tax burden. If you are subject to Required Minimum Distributions from your IRA, your gift can be an impactful way to meet your RMD, without counting toward your taxable income for the year. Using FreeWill’s secure online tool, you can fill out the forms from your IRA custodian in just a few minutes, or print out the forms and fill them out offline—our tax information will already appear and any other instructions will be clear and easy to follow.

Gifts of Stock

When you donate your appreciated stock directly to BRF, there’s no capital gains tax to pay. As a result, your act of generosity goes even further as we can immediately put the gift to work. This online tool makes transferring stocks simple. It can help you identify the correct transfer form, help you fill out the necessary fields, and provide clear instructions for submitting the form to your brokerage. Or, if your brokerage permits, fill out the forms online to complete the gift electronically. Learn more and give stock today!

Power in Numbers

  • For every dollar BRF awards, our grantees have secured, on average, $27 in future funding from other grant programs to continue their research.

  • We have had the opportunity to support 696 scientists through our grant programs in their pursuit of furthering brain research since 1981.

  • To date, BRF has provided more than $51 million toward neuroscience research.

Success Stories

Explore the work our grantees are doing to bring us closer to important scientific discoveries that broaden the scope of our understanding of the human brain.

Aimee Kao, M.D., Ph.D.
BRF Accelerates a Lab and Career
Dr. Aimee Kao generates human cell lines to model neurodegenerative disorders The BRF Seed Grant was crucial in establishing us as a lab that is leading the work on neuroregeneration…
Ravi Allada, M.D.
Sleep Disorders and Neurodegenerative Diseases
Ravi Allada, M.D., Professor of Neurobiology at Northwestern University, is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms and their links to various clinical disorders, including insomnia, depression and even…
Dr. Krishnan, Ph.D.
High Impact
“The BRF Scientific Innovations Award allowed us to do bold, transformative work for which there was no precedent. I am grateful that BRF takes risks on innovation.”
Dr. Nicholas Hatsopoulos
From the Lab to the Patient
In 2002 Dr. Nicholas Hatsopoulos, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at The University of Chicago, was awarded his first $25,000 seed grant. His lab set out to understand the…
Elaine Hsiao, Ph.D.
Answers at the Gut Microbiome-Brain Interface
Learning more about how microbes and neurons communicate with one another may reveal new molecular targets for developing better treatments for neurological diseases.
Amanda L. Persons, Ph.D
A New Path To Beat Addiction
 For patients recovering from opioid use disorder there are three drugs currently available for treatment: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. All three of these drugs attach to opioid receptors in the…
Barbara Waszczak, Ph.D.
The Intersection of Parkinson’s Disease and Addiction
A detour in Parkinson’s disease research led Barbara Waszczak, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Northeastern University in Boston, in an unexpected direction—opioid abuse relapse research.  Dr.…
Dr. Talkowski
The intersection of form and function: Disruptions in DNA’s 3D-structure linked to neurodevelopmental brain disorders.
“It led us to think that perhaps this happens more widely and pervasively throughout the genome,” said Dr. Talkowski, associate professor of neurology, Psychiatry and Pathology at Harvard University and…

Support a Research Grant