Radical Ideas in Brain Science Challenge Round 3: Homeostasis & Resilience

Real breakthroughs in Neuroscience will only happen at a university that can provide 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. 

Program Overview: 

Award Amount: Each 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. 

Focus Area: The upcoming round of competition addresses the focus area of: Homeostasis & Resilience  

Proposal Guidelines: Proposals will describe how the support will enable new cross-disciplinary research relationships and areas of new knowledge development, target major gaps in our current knowledge, and describe how the support will enable a clear path from research concept to formal research and development. Faculty salaries should be no more than 10% of total expenditures. 

Application should be submitted electronically as a single PDF file that includes: 

  • a title page listing PI and co-PIs and their department affiliations 
  • a 3-5 page project description 
  • a 1-page budget and justification 
  • CV’s or biosketches of the PI and co-PIs 

Send applications to neuroscience@berkeley.edu by September 28, 2018 at 5pm. Please direct questions to HWNI Executive Director Barbara Peterson at bapeterson@berkeley.edu. Proposals should not be routed through SPO. Please name the PDF as follows: lead PI “Last name_first name_RadicalIdeas_2020.pdf”. Include a running header on the top right hand corner of the PDF with the lead PI’s last name, first name, proposal title and year. 


  • August 18, 2020 – Program Announcement 
  • September 25, 2020 – Applications due by 5pm 
  • October 23, 2020 – Selection notifications to applicants 
  • January 4, 2021 – November 30, 2020 – Project start date 
  • January, 2022 – Progress presentation to selection committee 

Selection Committee/Process: The selection committee will be convened by the Executive Committee of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI), in accordance with policy established by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCRO). 

Review/Reporting Requirements: The second installment of the award funds will depend on the completion of an annual progress report and presentation in November, 2021. Presentations will be made to the selection committee and to the broader neuroscience community at UC Berkeley, with the sponsoring donor invited to participate.  Publications arising from award shall acknowledge support from the Institute and the donor.

Past Recipients

2018:  Blood-brain barrier dysfunction as a novel mechanism of age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease

2017:  Tools to Illuminate a Missing Dimension in Neuroimaging: Neuromodulation