University researchers among recipients of NSF grant in early concept brain research


Rhonda Zurn, University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, (612) 626-7959,

Sarah Bates, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-7738,

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (08/18/2014)—A team of engineering researchers at the University of Minnesota led by biomedical engineering professor Bin He is among an exclusive group of nationwide researchers who has received grants as part of the National Science Foundation’s support for the BRAIN Initiative. This research could provide transformative insights into understanding the brain.

NSF awarded 36 Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) to enable new technologies to better understand how complex behaviors emerge from the activity of brain circuits. These awards will contribute to NSF’s growing portfolio of investments in support of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, a multi-agency research effort that seeks to accelerate the development of new neurotechnologies that promise to help researchers answer fundamental questions about how the brain works.

Professor He, who also serves as director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Engineering in Medicine, will work with electrical and computer engineering professors Emad Ebbini and Jianping Wang and radiology professor Wei Chen to explore a completely new multimodal neuroimaging technology for extremely high resolution brain sensing and imaging.

Each NSF EAGER award is for $300,000 over a two-year period. The researchers receiving the awards will develop a range of conceptual and physical tools, from real-time whole brain imaging, to new theories of neural networks, to next-generation optogenetics.

“Progress towards the goals of The BRAIN Initiative and our comprehension of the brain and behavior requires that scientists and engineers from diverse disciplines work together,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “NSF is proud to invest in collaborative, fundamental projects that incubate innovative ideas in this exciting area of inquiry.”

Professor Karen Mesce, who has dual appointment in the University’s Academic Health Center and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, is the only other University of Minnesota recipient.

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