Dec. 23, 2014


Dr. Ramon Birnbaum of the Department of Life Sciences has been named a 2014 NARSAD Young Investigator. The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded him a two year grant to study epilepsy. 

Birnbaum hopes to advance genetic diagnoses and treatments for epilepsy by exploring the 98 percent of the human genome that is non-coding (does not contain genes), but that contains gene regulatory elements, such as enhancers, that instruct gene activity and in which mutations can arise to cause illness. Most enhancers associated with epilepsy remain unknown. 

Covering a broad spectrum of mental illnesses, NARSAD Young Investigator Grants function as catalysts to get new ideas off the ground that may not otherwise be supported. Every year, applications are reviewed by members of the Foundation’s Scientific Council, which is comprised of 145 brain and behavior research experts who volunteer their time to select the most promising research ideas to fund. NARSAD Young Investigator Grants support scientists at the advanced post-doctoral or assistant professor (or equivalent) level. 

Since 1987 the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded over $320 million to fund 4,769 NARSAD grants to more than 3,700 scientists around the world. Funding is focused on three priority areas to better understand and treat mental illness, aiming toward prevention and ultimately cures: Basic Research to understand what happens in the brain to cause mental illness, New Technologies to advance or create new ways of studying and understanding the brain, and Next Generation Therapies to reduce symptoms of mental illness and retrain the brain.