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alleninsitute12Another week, another national grant awarded to the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

The 11-year-old non-profit scientific organization was awarded its second National Institutes for Health grant in as many weeks and today announced a $8.7 million, five-year Transformative Research Award to study how neurons in the brain transfer information via synapses.

A human brain slabbing. Photo courtesy of the Allen Institute for Brain Science.
A human brain slabbing. Photo courtesy of the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

The funding, which comes from the NIH’s High Risk-High Reward program, will be used to help find better treatments for disorders like Parkinson’s and depression, which stem from synapse abnormalities. Led by Senior Investigator Stephen Smith, the Allen Institute will also use the grant to build out its publicly-accessible Open Synaptome Project that it says will change the way researchers approach the study of brain diseases.

“We are thrilled that the powerful combination of the Allen Institute’s unique scientific approach with Stephen Smith’s celebrated leadership in the neuroscience field is being recognized as having transformative potential by the NIH,” Allan Jones, CEO of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, said in a statement. “The consortium we will lead to study synapse diversity is poised to make important breakthroughs in how we think about the brain’s function in both health and disease.”

Paul Allen
Paul Allen

Last week, the Allen Institute landed another multi-million dollar grant as part of President Obama’s $100 million BRAIN Initiative to help the organization continue building out its public database of cell types in the mouse brain.

Over the past decade, Allen has committed $500 million toward understanding the brain through his non-profit. The Institute, which now employs about 270 people — including several world-renowned scientists in brain research — is aiming to ultimately transform the treatment of related diseases and disorders including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.

The organization, which has been spread among several buildings in Fremont, plans to consolidate operations in a new 245,000 square-foot building in South Lake Union next year.

Last year, the Microsoft co-founder also launched the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence to lead a new quest for the elusive goal of computers that can acquire human levels of knowledge, reason and understanding.

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