Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Founded 1981
Focus Alleviate the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research[1]
  • New York, NY
Key people
Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President and CEO; Stephen A. Lieber, Chairman of the Board; Herb Pardes, M.D., founding and current President of the Scientific Council

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is a nonprofit [501(c)(3)] organization that focuses on mental health research. The Foundation website states, “100% of all donor contributions for research are invested in NARSAD Grants leading to discoveries in understanding causes and improving treatments of disorders in children and adults, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, autism, and bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), post-traumatic stress and obsessive-compulsive disorders.”[2]

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation serves a growing population living with or touched by mental illness. An estimated 1 in 4 Americans live with a diagnosable mental illness, including approximately 6 percent whose mental illness is so severe as to interfere with daily activities such as work, school, or family life. “In addition, mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada."[3]

History and founding

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation began with a group of family and friends in 1981 and was originally named the American Schizophrenia Foundation. Three leading national mental health organizations collaborated to create the foundation: the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), and the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA). In 1985, the organization became the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD); in 2011 it rebranded itself as the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, “awarding NARSAD Grants to fund research in every major area of brain and behavior research for all mental illness.”[4]

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation believes strongly in research and allocates 100% of donations for research to scientific research. The organization’s fundraising and administrative costs are underwritten by separate grants. All research proposals are reviewed by a Scientific Council, which consists of 165 volunteer mental health leaders including Nobel Prize winners, National Medal of Science winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences and chairs of psychiatric departments.[5]


The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation focuses its research primarily on nine of the most common mental illnesses in the United States and other developed countries[6]—schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), borderline personality disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). NARSAD Grants are awarded to researchers in these fields according to four different categories: Basic Research, New Technologies, Diagnostic Tools/Early Intervention and Next Generation Therapies.[7]

The following are the latest NARSAD Grant statistics as of March 2016 according to the Foundation website:

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council, led by Herb Pardes, M.D., executive vice chairman of the board of trustees of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, consists of 165 volunteer mental health leaders who review over one thousand grant applications each year across all major areas of brain and behavior research and make recommendations.[8] The Foundation also sponsors the Schizophrenia Research Forum website, an online community of scientists collaborating in their search for causes, improved treatments, and better understanding of schizophrenia.

Research Prizes

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awards several prestigious prizes to deserving scientists annually.

Recent scientific discoveries by NARSAD grantees

General brain research



Bipolar disorder



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)


100% of all donor contributions to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation for research are invested in NARSAD Grants to help understand the causes and improve the treatments of disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, autism, and bipolar, attention-deficit hyperactivity, post-traumatic stress, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.[47]

Foundation fundraising events include a wide variety of sporting and family events such as kayaking, walks, runs, golf events, triathlons, dance parties, benefit concerts and more. These events are created and organized as part of the TeamUp for Research Events program, which facilitates third-party fundraising events from around the world.[48]

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation also holds two annual events - the New York Mental Health Research Symposium[49] and a National Awards Dinner[50] - monthly "Meet the Scientist" webinars,[51] conferences[52] and other research education events for the public, and offers donors the option to sponsor a specific scientist with their donation(s).


The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation offers a number of resources to its constituents, including a virtual community it co-funds called the Schizophrenia Research Forum where scientists can collaborate to better understand and treat schizophrenia.

On its website, the Foundation has an Information Helpline[53] and an “Ask An Expert”[54] feature where visitors can write in with specific questions or browse previously answered questions. There are also a number of Recovery Stories[55] specific to the various illnesses the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation aims to treat and/or cure. These stories are meant to provide hope and inspiration to those struggling with mental illness.


Publications produced by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation on a regular basis include:


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External links

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