As National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding has dropped by one-third over the past ten years, research support from non-profit organizations like the Brain Research Foundation has become more critical than ever. Tomorrow’s major breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases depend on our scientists having dedicated funding of their research. Every dollar invested in their work moves our understanding of the brain and nervous system forward.
Tracking Seed Grant Successes
In Illinois, BRF seed grants ensure that the best and brightest in neuroscience across the state are able to advance in their careers. The success of the Brain Research Foundation Seed Grant Program is measured in various ways. Initially, we track success by determining the number of publications that have resulted from a seed grant project and the amount of additional outside funding that results from a project help a researcher obtain.
Another perhaps less measurable success factor is how a seed grant may help advance the career of a researcher. Results generated from seed grants may enable a researcher to get larger project grants which in turn helps them perhaps get promoted to a tenured position or become established as an independent researcher. All three of these successes happened from a 2007 Seed Grant. Xiaoxi Zhuang, Ph.D., neurobiologist at the University of Chicago, was a recipient of a 2007 BRF Seed Grant for his work on understanding the neurobiological and behavioral basis of drug abuse and addiction. At the time of the grant, Dr. Zhuang was an assistant professor with several people in his lab. One postdoctoral fellow in his lab, Jeff Beeler, Ph.D., focused on this seed grant project.
Since the completion of the project, both researchers have published articles and obtained funding from the results. In addition, both scientists have advanced in their careers. Dr. Zhuang is now an associate professor at the University of Chicago and Dr. Beeler is now a research associate (assistant professor) there as well. The Brain Research Foundation is proud that our seed grants have such an impact on science and scientists. Dr. Zhuang received a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the amount of $400,000. Dr. Beeler continues his focus on addiction. In 2008, he received a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the amount of $1.5M. Dr. Zhuang is a co principal investigator on this grant.