"Understanding the brain and how it influences behavior is one of the most important and complicated grand challenges of our time, and our success ultimately depends on teamwork,” said Amitabh Varshney, dean of UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS). "By establishing this new institute and appointing a strong leader who has experience with interdisciplinary research, our BBI faculty members will be able to build on their strengths and work together across their diverse fields, lending expertise and support to each other’s efforts, and take our university's high-quality neuroscience research program to the next level."
Between 2016 and 2021, UMD invested in the Brain and Behavior Initiative to foster interdisciplinary interactions in neuroscience across its College Park campus, and the provost’s announcement of the new institute renews and expands the university’s commitment to neuroscience research and teaching. At the heart of the initiative was a desire for a collaborative research community across the physical and life sciences. The initiative’s seed grant program yielded a 900% return on seed grant investments, through 15 awards from private organizations and government funding, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN Initiative, National Institute of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, and Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
The institute will play a vital role in the university’s neuroscience ecosystem, which also includes the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science interdisciplinary graduate program and new undergraduate neuroscience major launched in fall 2020. The BBI will also continue to strengthen interactions with collaborators at other institutions, including the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).
A campus-wide endeavor, the BBI is administratively housed in CMNS and supported financially by the Office of the Provost, UM Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Development, A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, Division of Research, CMNS, A. James Clark School of Engineering, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, School of Public Health, College of Education, and College of Arts and Humanities.