UC Berkeley photo by Malachi Tran
Our community is the nexus for campus-wide multidisciplinary neuroscience research at UC Berkeley.
Our broad research focus is the study of the nervous system, from single molecules to human behavior, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches and use-inspired research. Our research mission is to deepen our understanding of how the brain and the rest of the nervous system functions, develops, changes, and ages, and the processes involved in neurological diseases and disorders. We are building next-generation experimental, analytical, and theoretical approaches to probe neuronal function and to elucidate the mechanisms underlying sensation, perception, behavior, learning, and cognition, and develop new ways to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders. Visit our faculty page to explore the research interests of our faculty.
We also support our faculty by sponsoring research initiatives and leading-edge research and technology centers.
Advances in understanding brain function and brain disorders are often enabled by cutting-edge technology and the focus of the brightest scientific minds from diverse disciplines around a common goal. HWNI fosters advances in neuroscience by sponsoring major research initiatives and research and technology centers.
Our research initiatives, such as the Radical Ideas in Brain Science Challenge and the Rennie Fund for the Study of Epilepsy, provide funding for cutting-edge research and encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches. We also encourage our members to apply for funding from our collaborators: the Weill Neurohub, Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP), and the UCSF | UCB Schwab Dyslexia & Cognitive Diversity Center.
Our research and technology centers bring together interdisciplinary groups of researchers to support new areas of research, develop tools for neuroscience research, and apply the new knowledge and tools to advance our understanding of the brain. Our centers are The Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses (CNEP), The Henry H. Wheeler, Jr. Brain Imaging Center (BIC), The Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences (ICBS), The Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience (RCTN), and The Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP). HWNI faculty are also affiliated with several other centers. Learn more about HWNI’s centers, collaborating centers, and initiatives below.
Applications for 2020 are now closed. Annual calls for proposals are typically announced in February, with applications due in April.
The Rennie Fund provides 1-year awards to support new research on epilepsy. Proposals can be directly related to epilepsy, or to closely related areas in neuroscience. The funding amount is in the range of $20-50K, for 1 year of support, for a single research group or a team. Funds can be used to support research, development, conferences, and postdoc/graduate student support. Faculty salary should be no more than 10% of total expenditures.
Proposals consist of a 1-page research description, a lay summary, a 1-page budget justification, and CV(s) or biosketch(es) for PI(s).
History of Program and Donor
The Rennie Fund was created in 1962 as the result of a bequest from the Mary Elizabeth Rennie Trust. Ms. Rennie’s brother, William Rennie, Jr., had been a member of the Berkeley class of 1919. The bequest was initially made to the UC Regents to be used at their discretion for the study of epilepsy, but in 1981, the fund was allocated to the UC Berkeley campus.
From 1981 to 2017, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate funded 2-3 grants per year to faculty doing research on epilepsy as part of the Senate’s faculty grants program. Many of those faculty are now affiliated with the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI). In 2017, the Senate transferred the Rennie Fund to HWNI, which currently administers the fund.
Awards will be $20-50K per funded proposal. The award will be provided in a single installment on September 1 (for 2020), available for a period of one year. We anticipate making up to 3 awards per year.
At least one participant should be a UC Berkeley ladder-rank faculty member whose area of research includes epilepsy or an epilepsy-related area.
Real breakthroughs in neuroscience will only happen with a united effort across vast disciplinary terrain in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology and engineering. The greatest leaps will happen when science and technology can be combined across disciplines.
Berkeley provides a phenomenal breadth and depth of renowned faculty and inventive students who can create such leaps. The Radical Ideas in Brain Science Challenge is designed to kick-start new multi-disciplinary collaborations that create breakthroughs in understanding the brain and mind in health and disease.
The Radical Ideas program funds high-risk / high-potential proposals at an early stage to enable them to transition new approaches to problems in brain science from the concept stage to the point of proof of concept. The expectation is that, if successful during their 2-years of support, such research projects will demonstrate feasibility, and make it possible to obtain continuing support from established funding mechanisms of federal and foundation grants.
2020 Program Overview:
Award Amount: One team will be selected for an award of $237,000. The award will be provided in annual installments of $118,500, with the second installment pending an annual progress review.