Our Seed Grants Are The First Step

Results from his 2008 BRF Seed Grant study enabled David J. Freedman, Ph.D., Neurobiology at the University of Chicago, to submit a proposal to the National Science Foundation.

In 2010, Dr. Freedman was awarded the National Science Foundation CAREER award for junior faculty. This award is a 5 year grant in the amount of $950,000.

Humans and other advanced animals are not born with a built in library of meaningful categories, such as “tables” and “chairs,” which we are preprogrammed to recognize. Instead we learn to recognize the meaning of such stimuli through experience. This ability, which is disrupted by a number of brain diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and stroke, is critical because it allows us to respond appropriately to the continuous stream of stimuli and events that we encounter in our interactions with the environment. 

While much is known about the encoding of basic visual features (such as contrast, orientation, and motion direction) in early stages of the visual system, much less is known about how the brain learns, stores, recognizes and recalls the meaning of our sensory experiences. With his 2008 Brain Research Foundation Seed Grant, Dr. David J. Freedman conducted research to determine a more detailed understanding of the brain mechanisms of visual learning, memory and recognition. 

A greater understanding of visual learning and categorization is important for addressing a number of brain disorders and conditions that leave patients impaired in everyday tasks that require an appropriate response to sensory information. These studies also have particular relevance for understanding and addressing learning disabilities, such as attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, which affect a substantial number of school age children and young adults. The long-term goal of Dr. Freedman’s research is to help guide the next generation of treatments for these brain-based diseases and disorders by helping to develop a detailed understanding of the brain mechanisms that underlie learning, memory and recognition.

Other Successes

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…