Stanford Neurosciences Institute awards support for Big Ideas

The Stanford Neurosciences Institute has chosen four new projects for its second round of Big Ideas initiatives, which fund major interdisciplinary research initiatives aimed at driving the next breakthroughs in brain science.

Big Ideas was conceived in 2013, after WILLIAM NEWSOME, professor of neurobiology and the Vincent V. C. Woo Director of the Neurosciences Institute, and the institute’s executive committee met with many faculty affiliates. The faculty sought ways to work together in teams to tackle deep questions about neuroscience and its interactions with society, engineering, medicine and other disciplines.

Jennifer McNab
Jennifer McNab

The first round of Big Ideas, launched in 2014, includes projects aimed at understanding drug addiction, reversing aging in the brain and developing brain-machine interfaces. The second round was chosen after the institute invited eight full proposals from 17 initial letters of intent.

The four projects selected for this second round of Big Ideas include efforts to track brain development, better understand psychiatric illness, treat nervous system disorders and create new methods for studying the brain. The researchers behind those projects come from departments across campus, including genetics, biology, psychology and computer science.

Each of the four new teams will receive up to $700,000 over the next two years, with the possibility of additional funding in the years to follow. The teams are:

NeuroPlant
MIRIAM GOODMAN, THOMAS CLANDININ and SEUNG YON RHEE
Building a pipeline to explore chemicals synthesized in plants as potential new treatments for neurological disease and as a window into the chemistry of the brain.

Neurodevelopment: Elucidating the development of brain structure, function and computations
KALANIT GRILL-SPECTOR, JENNIFER MCNAB and DANIEL YAMINS
Investigating how the brain develops from infancy to adulthood across species, focusing on how the interplay between structural development, functional development, and experience affect brain computations and ultimately behavior.

Human brain organogenesis
SERGIU PASCA and KARL DEISSEROTH 
Developing brain organoids – three dimensional brain tissues grown in the lab – to study human brain development, evolution and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Neuro-omics
ALICE TING, LIQUN LUO and STEPHEN QUAKE 
Creating new tools to help neuroscientists bridge the study of genes and proteins operating in the brain to the study of brain circuits and systems, which could lead to a deeper understanding of brain function and disease.

Visit the Neurosciences Institute website.