NIH announces awards for BRAIN Initiative neuroethics research

National Institutes of Health – As scientists develop powerful neurotechnologies to monitor and regulate brain activity, ethical questions arise about how these new tools should be incorporated into medical research and clinical practice. To inform this discussion, the National Institutes of Health has awarded grants to five teams of experts who will study the neuroethical issues surrounding the use of deep brain stimulation in neuropsychiatric and movement disorders and appropriate consent for brain research. The grants are part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

“Neuroscience is rapidly moving toward a new frontier of research on human brains that may have long-lasting and unforeseen effects. These new awards signal our commitment to research conducted in a responsible way as to anticipate all potential consequences, and to ensure that research subjects have a clear understanding of the potential benefits and risks of participating in studies,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The BRAIN Initiative was launched in 2013 with the goal of developing the tools to see the brain in action, and leveraging this knowledge to reduce the burden of illness due to brain disorders. Shortly after the initiative was announced, efforts began to identify potential ethical questions that may be raised by new investigations on the human brain, including those that involve invasive brain surgery. NIH formed the BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Neuroethics Division to assist the advisory councils of participating NIH institutes and centers to recommend approaches for identifying and addressing neuroethics questions related to BRAIN Initiative research. 

Read more at National Institutes of Health.

SciPol Editors' Note: Dr. Nita Farahany, a member of the BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Neuroethics Division​ referenced in the article, is the Director of the Duke University Initaitive for Science & Society, the parent organization of SciPol.

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X-ray image of deep brain stimulation probes