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Giving Tuesday: 3 Ways Your Gift Supports Brain Disease Research and Advancements

The American Brain Foundation is able to accomplish so much because of the support of our donors. This Giving Tuesday, learn about everything the Foundation has been able to achieve recently and why continued funding is so important.


The American Brain Foundation has been able to fund so many important research projects as we continue working toward our vision of life without brain disease. Yet, as we reflect on our achievements, we know that there is still so much work to be done and research that needs to be funded—unfortunately, we are only able to fund 25% of research proposals that we receive. Only by continuing to fund research will we find treatments and cures for the 600+ brain diseases and disorders that impact millions of people every day.

In honor of the vital role our donors play in our efforts, we’re outlining some of the key ways your continued support provides a critical foundation for the future of brain disease research. Plus, learn how being personally impacted by brain disease inspired a private family foundation to make the largest gift in the American Brain Foundation’s history.

1. Many Small Contributions Help Form a Bigger Picture

Brain diseases are some of the most complex and devastating health challenges people face, which is why research sometimes seems to move so slowly. Finding cures, effective treatments, and prevention strategies for these conditions is like assembling a vast jigsaw puzzle. Each research project, no matter how small, contributes a piece to this puzzle. With time and resources, these pieces begin to form a clearer picture, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of the brain and getting us closer to breakthroughs that can transform lives.

For example, for years researchers from many different fields focusing on a range of brain diseases investigated the potential of gene therapy to treat certain brain diseases. In 2019, nearly 30 years after the first-ever use of gene therapy in humans, Dr. Jerry Mendell successfully used gene therapy to develop a cure for type 1 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Dr. Mendell’s model not only built on the many smaller steps taken by previous researchers in the field, it also offered a model of gene therapy that researchers are now investigating to treat other forms of neuromuscular disease, including muscular dystrophy and ALS.

2. Like All Parts of the Brain, All Brain Diseases Are Connected

Every advancement, no matter how small, has the potential to create a ripple effect of discoveries that could make an impact across multiple diseases or disease areas. This is because all parts of the brain are connected, and a discovery in one area may lead researchers to uncover links between multiple brain diseases

Our 2025 Cure One Cure Many award, a multi-year cross-disciplinary research project focused on neuroinflammation, will allow researchers to explore the role of inflammation in brain diseases (there are over 600 known brain diseases, and neuroinflammation plays a role in nearly all of them). This initiative, which we know will lead to immense strides in brain disease research, wouldn’t be possible without the generous contributions of our supporters.

3. Brain Disease Research Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Research can take years and go through multiple phases before there are results that actually make it to patients. Researchers rely on continued support from donors to keep research moving forward, so we can make the breakthroughs that will impact the lives of the millions of people living with brain disease worldwide.

It’s not just new research proposals that need funding either. Many projects need multiple years of funding to complete their original goals or continue testing and refining new discoveries. Researchers often build on prior studies in the field to inform the goals and targets of future research. Funding not only enables researchers to make these connections, it can also provide the foundation they need to launch their early research careers. For example, Srikant Rangaraju, MBBS, MS, was awarded a research grant through our Next Generation Research Grant program in 2014, and went on to receive two National Institute of Health grants that helped further his research.

Building a Legacy of Support

This year we are incredibly grateful to have received a gift of $4.7 million from a private family foundation, the largest single gift in our history. One of the main reasons the donors decided to make this gift was because of a personal connection to brain disease, witnessing firsthand the toll that dementia takes on families and caregivers. 

This gift will move brain disease research forward in a number of key areas, from funding a major research initiative focusing on neuroinflammation to the search for a biomarker for Lewy body dementia. The donors also included funds for operating expenses, knowing that this important work cannot continue without support in this area. While we know that not everyone can make gifts on this extremely generous scale, this act serves as a poignant reminder of the lasting legacy we can create through donor support.

We recently invited supporters to consider making a lasting impact by including ABF in their estate plans. This is an opportunity to ensure that the fight against brain disease continues long into the future.

How You Can Help 

The American Brain Foundation has made significant strides in research progress thanks to the unwavering support of our donors and partners. However, the battle against brain disease continues, and many of the studies that will give us the treatments and cures of tomorrow still need funding today. 

This Giving Tuesday, we hope you will consider supporting brain disease research in the way that works best for you. There are many ways to give, including:

  • Join the Brain Squad – Recurring gifts help us make continued progress in the field by enabling us to fund critical ongoing research projects.
  • Start a Personal Fundraiser – Every little bit helps support brain disease research. Enlist your friends, family, and personal network to raise funds for Giving Tuesday or for your next birthday or milestone. (You can also create a fundraiser on Facebook.)
  • Consider a Legacy Gift – There are a variety of ways to include the American Brain Foundation in your estate planning and ensure the future of innovative research projects that will unlock discoveries across many different disease areas.

We need your help to continue investing in research that will lead to breakthroughs so that one day, we can all experience life without brain disease. 

The American Brain Foundation is committed to finding cures for brain diseases. Donate today to make a difference. With your help, we can all experience life without brain disease.