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White House BRAIN Initiative Plants Seed for New UCSF Partnership

by Gretchen Kiser, PhD

UC San Francisco has recently partnered with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley to form the Tri-Institutional Partnership (TrIP), in an effort to promote collaborative research among the three institutions. This multidisciplinary alliance combines the collective strengths of top university leadership in clinical neuroscience and cognitive and behavioral science with the technological capabilities of a national laboratory.

The umbrella partnership will focus on the Presidential BRAIN Initiative, a White House-sponsored research effort to develop new conceptual and technological tools that could revolutionize our fundamental understanding of neurological processes and abnormalities, and in turn reveal new ways to treat, prevent and cure brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

Keith Yamamoto, PhD

“This partnership will help to galvanize, integrate and leverage the enormous talent, creativity and energy relevant to neuroscience and neurological disease at these three institutions” said Keith Yamamoto, PhD, vice chancellor for research at UCSF, who spearheaded the collaboration with UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “Our faculty, trainees and staff will gain new ways to pursue their research, and the fields will advance.”

TrIP‘s first venture will seed collaborative research projects in neurotechnology. A peer-reviewed funding competition will target teams composed of the participating institutions seeking to catalyze bold, potentially transformative research in neurotechnology at scale.

In March, more than 90 researchers from all three partners convened at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for “Proposers’ Day,” to learn more about the seed program, the opportunities provided by the Presidential BRAIN Initiative, and especially to share their research ideas and forge new collaborations.

Successful “seeds” of the regional program will be calibrated on technical excellence, innovation, and the substantive involvement of the collaborative partners across multiple disciplines. To ensure impact, each project must have a clear path from concept to the development of a competitive proposal for outside funding.

The interest in and participation at the inaugural “Proposers’ Day” signals the creation of a strong partnership, one that promises to become a powerhouse of knowledge generation and technology development for the Bay Area and beyond.