Focus on Traumatic Brain Injury Research

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when external physical forces cause damage to the brain, whether from impact, penetrating objects, blast waves or rapid movement of the brain within the skull.  Currently, TBI has three severity classifications (mild, moderate, severe) that are based primarily on the Glasgow Coma Scale.  The classification of mild TBI also includes concussion, commonly defined as a transient alteration of brain function due to exposure to external physical forces. While acute TBI can be life threatening, TBI also can have long-term sequelae including cognitive and physical disability, post-concussion syndrome (PCS), and may contribute to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). PCS results when various symptoms of concussion last weeks, months or more than a year following concussion.  CTE is a delayed neurodegenerative disorder that results from repetitive mild injury to the brain and can only be diagnosed postmortem. To learn more about the incidence and burden of TBI please see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s information on TBI and Concussion.

NINDS is the lead institute for TBI research at NIH. Like the injury, the TBI portfolio is heterogeneous and spans a broad range of scientific investigation from basic mechanistic, translational, and clinical research including all phases of clinical trials.  To search TBI projects funded by NIH please go to NIH RePORTER. The NIH’s total investment in TBI can be found in the section on categorical spending (“Injury-Traumatic Brain Injury”).

The NIH also works with other federal agencies to coordinate TBI research as directed by Executive Order: Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families (August 31, 2012), and outlined in the National Research Action Plan (pdf, 2.74 mb). For more detailed information describing the consequence of TBI, caring for those with TBI, and TBI-related research can be found at the CDC website for both Children and Adults.

Funding Opportunities: A complete, searchable list of funding opportunities is available under Funding. Please be aware that if you plan to request $500,000 or more in direct costs you must contact the appropriate Program Director at least 6 weeks before submission to obtain approval. For more information please see the eRA User Guide ($500K requests)

For information on NINDS clinical trials please see the Clinical Research section, or search

Tools & Resources


Dr. Walter Koroshetz
Director, NINDS 

Meetings & Workshops

TBI related meetings hosted or supported by NINDS:


Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury in Women [Video Day 1 & Day 2]  December 18-19, 2017 | Bethesda, MD

InTBIR 2017 [Summary] (pdf, 526 kb); October 30-31, 2017 | Rockville, MD

Environmental Sensor use for Quantifying Neural Exposure to Inertial and Blast Forces, National Neurotrauma Society ancillary symposium; July 8, 2017 | Snowbird, UT


Pediatric Concussion Workshop [Video Day 1 & Day 2]; October 13-14, 2016 | North Bethesda, MD

All NINDS Events