Founding Story

Brain Research Foundation was founded and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1953 by three neurologists; Dr. Frederic A. Gibbs, Dr. Ladislas J. Meduna and Dr. Carl C. Pfeiffer. Dr. Gibbs (1902-1992) was widely known as “the father of electro-encephalography.” The Foundation began to grow and take shape a few years later when dynamic businessmen William E. Fay, Jr. and Clinton E. Frank became involved because they each had a daughter with a brain illness. In 1963, the Women’s Council of the Foundation was founded by one of the Foundation’s trustees, Mary Beattie.

In 1964, Brain Research Foundation entered into an agreement with the University of Chicago in order to establish the Brain Research Institute. For the next 40 years, the Foundation supported basic neuroscientists and promising younger investigators at the University of Chicago in search of the keys to unlock the mysteries of the human brain. In addition to research programs, the Foundation also funds bricks and mortar, new laboratories, start-up dollars for new faculty, support for special equipment and technology, and most importantly, seed grants to BRI scientists for feasibility studies on innovative research.

In 2008, BRF expanded its funding reach to include all of greater Chicago. In addition to funding scientists at the University of Chicago, we now support other Chicago institutions through our Seed Grant Program and Scientific Innovations Awards.

The Foundation’s funds are derived from contributions from its Board of Trustees, foundations, corporations, private individuals, and clubs. An appeal for contributions to the Annual Fund is sent out after Thanksgiving each year, and a benefit gala is held annually. Since our inception, BRF has contributed over $35M to brain research.