NIH has announced the selection of Andrea Beckel-Mitchener, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), as deputy director of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative® is a large-scale effort that seeks to deepen understanding of the inner workings of the human mind and to improve how we treat, prevent, and cure disorders of the brain.
Since 2017, Dr. Beckel-Mitchener has served as director of the Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity and the Office of Rural Mental Health Research at NIMH. In this role, she has worked to reduce disparities and promote mental health equity within the United States and internationally. She has also led the effort to promote diverse perspectives in research and support inclusivity in the research workforce.
In addition, Dr. Beckel-Mitchener has been serving as acting deputy director of the BRAIN Initiative alongside Dr. John Ngai, who was named BRAIN Initiative director in January 2020. She has worked with NIH staff and scientists around the world, helping coordinate research opportunities to develop new technologies for examining cell and circuit function in the brain. She is involved in supporting a framework for the ethical use of technologies emerging from the BRAIN Initiative, and she has led several large projects, including the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network.
Dr. Beckel-Mitchener began her NIH career in 2004 as director of the Functional Neurogenomics Program in the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science at NIMH. Before joining NIMH, she worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and for GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline-Beecham) in Worthing, U.K. She received both a master’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Neurosciences from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
The goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to develop novel neurotechnologies that will further our understanding of the brain and to share those technologies with others. The scientific impact of the BRAIN Initiative will be accelerated through the rapid dissemination of technologies and resources to the neuroscience research community and beyond.
Since its initial funding in 2014, the BRAIN Initiative has supported more than 900 research awards totaling approximately $1.8 billion through 2020, with a budget of $560 million in 2021.
The NIH BRAIN Initiative® is managed by 10 institutes whose missions and research portfolios complement the goals of the BRAIN Initiative: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Eye Institute, National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The Initiative is co-led by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.