NSF and The BRAIN Initiative

The National Science Foundation logo

National Science Foundation (NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences.

NSF keeps the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology. In addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high-risk, high pay-off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow.

Images from NSF home page (Science 360 news stories) Upper left: Springtime night lights: Finding the aurora; Upper right: Honey bees use multiple genetic pathways to fight infections; Lower right: Researchers improve efficiency of human walking; Lower left: Wearable sensors to monitor triggers for asthma, and more.

Images from NSF home page (Science 360 news stories)
Upper left: Springtime night lights: Finding the aurora; Upper right: Honey bees use multiple genetic pathways to fight infections; Lower right: Researchers improve efficiency of human walking; Lower left: Wearable sensors to monitor triggers for asthma, and more.

Web Information

Website:  nsf.gov/
YouTube Channel:  youtube.com/user/VideosatNSF 
Twitter:  twitter.com/NSF

Facebook: facebook.com/US.NSF
Wikipedia Entry:  wiki/National_Science_Foundation

Contact Information

Emailinfo@nsf.gov
Phone: (703) 292-5111
Address: National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 2223

Organization

Director: France A. Córdova
Advisory Committees:
Staff Directory

The National Science Foundation's street address is 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230

The National Science Foundation’s street address is 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230

About NSF

NSF AT A GLANCE

Photo - NSF building, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington. Click for credit.The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” With an annual budget of $7.3 billion (FY 2015), we are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing. MORE

How NSF determines which research has the greatest potential and would be the most fruitful investment of taxpayer dollars, NSF’s Merit Review Process. View a two-minute video overview of NSF’s mission and focus. And, a five-minute video about NSF support for fundamental research, Foundation for Innovation.

Check out our NSF Toolkit, with resources providing information about the impact of NSF’s investments.

Visit NSF’s Open Government Initiative Web site.

WHO WE ARE

Photo, Nanowire. Click for Credit.NSF leadership has two major components: a director who oversees NSF staff and management responsible for program creation and administration, merit review, planning, budget and day-to-day operations; and a 24-member National Science Board (NSB) of eminent individuals that meets six times a year to establish the overall policies of the foundation. The director and all Board members serve six year terms. Each of them, as well as the NSF deputy director, is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At present, NSF has a total workforce of about 2,100 at its Arlington, Va., headquarters, including approximately 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, 450 contract workers and the staff of the NSB office and the Office of the Inspector General. MORE

WHAT WE DO

Photo - Person on mountain with rock hammer. Click for credit.As described in our strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. We are tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high-risk, high pay-off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, we ensure that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also be training tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers. MORE

HOW WE WORK

Photo - People at conference table with computers. Click for credit.NSF’s task of identifying and funding work at the frontiers of science and engineering is not a “top-down” process. NSF operates from the “bottom up,” keeping close track of research around the United States and the world, maintaining constant contact with the research community to identify ever-moving horizons of inquiry, monitoring which areas are most likely to result in spectacular progress and choosing the most promising people to conduct the research. MORE

 NSF and The BRAIN Initiative

NSF-supported research in this area spans biology, mathematics, physical sciences, engineering, computer science, and social and behavioral sciences

image of human brain
NSF will contribute $20 million to a White House initiative to better understand the brain.
Credit and Larger Version

April 2, 2013

President Obama today announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) will participate in a White House initiative called Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN), which is designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. NSF Acting Director Cora Marrett took part in the announcement at the White House, which also included the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as private sector representatives.

“NSF is ideally positioned to support the BRAIN Initiative because of the broad scope of science and engineering research funding we provide to the nation,” Marrett said. “NSF’s neuroscience and cognitive science research portfolio is expansive, and this initiative enhances efforts that are already underway to explore neurological connections from the cellular to human behavioral levels.”

NSF intends to support approximately $20 million in research that will advance this $100 million initiative. The Foundation’s contributions will include research into the development of molecular-scale probes that can sense and record the activity of neural networks; advances in “Big Data” that are necessary to analyze the huge amounts of information that will be generated; and increased understanding of how thoughts, emotions, actions and memories are represented in the brain.

Some of NSF’s current investments in neuroscience research include:

  • Studies employing species comparative approaches on how the nervous system develops and coordinates complex functions are generating the computational models of neuronal networks that are essential for understanding the emergent properties of the nervous system and how network plasticity influences behavior.
  • Research on the chemical and physical principles governing the activity of neural systems is leading to mechanistic and predictive models of cellular behavior and to new approaches for understanding system-wide effects of external stimuli such as pharmacological agents and anesthetics, genetic modifiers and the environment.
  • Principles underlying microelectronics, optics, optobiology and nanosystems provide key platforms for addressing the temporal and spatial characteristics of functional brain mapping.
  • Converging research in machine learning, big data, computational neuroscience, human-centered computing and informatics is essential for mapping and understanding brain activity on a large scale.
  • Frameworks that link brain activity patterns to a diverse range of cognitive and behavioral functions carried out in specific ecological, evolutionary, developmental and social contexts are being developed. At the same time social science theory, methods, and approaches are enabling patterns of brain activity be linked to individual behaviors making this knowledge relevant to the human experience.

For more information, go to www.NSF.gov/brain.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Dana Topousis, NSF, (703) 292-7750, dtopousi@nsf.gov

Related Websites
NSF fact sheet: Understanding the Brain: The National Science Foundation and the BRAIN Initiative: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=128960
NSF article with links to articles and videos on NSF-funded brain research: Prying Open the Black Box of the Brain: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=128239
BRAIN Initiative Challenges Researchers to Unlock Mysteries of Human Mind:http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/04/02/brain-initiative-challenges-researchers-unlock-mysteries-human-mind

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