Back to News and Events

Why Is Brain Disease Research So Important?

Imagine life without brain disease. That is our vision—and it is only possible through research to unlock better treatments, diagnosis methods, and cures.

Since 1992, the American Brain Foundation has been investing in research to defeat brain diseases and disorders. We invest in research across the whole brain and all neurologic disorders because we know brain diseases are interconnected. Research in one area has a ripple effect that influences our understanding of many other brain diseases. We know that when we cure one brain disease, we will cure many.

While we’ve seen incredible progress, so many vital research projects still go unfunded every year. That means research that could hold the key to potential breakthroughs in treatments and cures is not being conducted because they are not being funded. Below, we discuss several specific ways research directly impacts people’s lives—and how much more of an impact we can make by continuing to fund innovative research into all brain diseases.

“In the early 1950s, a famous virologist said that there was no cure for polio, and there was no cure in sight. And in a year or two, we had the poliovirus vaccine.” — Raymond P. Roos, MD, University of Chicago

Research Leads to Cures

All advancements in treatment and diagnosis are directly tied to research. One research discovery—whether it’s a breakthrough discovery or a small insight—has the power to lead to a better understanding of other brain diseases, improved treatments, and development of new diagnostic technology. Simply put, without research, there will be no cures. 

We’ve seen the benefits of research over the years through groundbreaking advancements in brain disease research. Insights in fluid biomarkers, brain imaging, neural implants, genome mapping, and other areas have had an impact in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple brain diseases.

However, the reality is that research costs money, and researchers need funding in order to carry out their critical research projects. To support those efforts, the American Brain Foundation works tirelessly to fund as many researchers and projects as possible

Our Next Generation Research Grants fund and support innovative investigations by the next generation of clinical neuroscience researchers. To date, we’ve awarded $34 million to nearly 300 researchers, and we are currently supporting 29 active research projects. The impact of this support goes even further, as more than 86% of Next Generation Research Grant recipients have gone on to secure funding from the NIH and other national funders, enabling them to establish lifelong research careers and continue important brain disease research.

“Many of these research projects are focused on disease areas where there is no treatment, there is no cure, and so this is desperately needed. Every dollar toward research counts, and only with the help of sponsors and supporters can we continue to fund this kind of research and make a life with no brain disease a reality.” – David Dodick, MD, FAAN


Closing the Funding Gap

Only through research will we find better treatments, diagnosis methods, and cures. And only through donations is this research made possible. Every year, many important research projects go unfunded. In fact, the American Brain Foundation is only able to fund 25% of the applications we receive for research projects. That means 75% of potentially life-saving research projects are going unfunded, leaving millions of people without treatments, cures, and answers.

We know we can do more for people with brain disease and their loved ones. The only way to help close that gap and fund more critical research is through donations.

“We’re seeing that [brain diseases] are actually way more related than we ever thought. Something somebody might learn in migraine might inform epilepsy. Something somebody might learn in dementia might inform Parkinson’s disease.” – Francis Jensen, MD, University of Pennsylvania


Cure One, Cure Many

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It consists of distinct but connected parts, each with its own unique function. And just like the different parts of the brain, neurologic diseases are interconnected as well.

Since we know all parts of the brain are connected, we know that insights into one brain disease—its causes, mechanisms, and effective treatments—will lead to insights we can apply to many other diseases. Unlocking a cure for one brain disease will provide a better understanding of others, and ultimately will lead to more cures.

This knowledge comes from and informs our approach to research. The American Brain Foundation funds research to actively study the connections across multiple brain diseases. Our Cure One, Cure Many program provides large-scale, catalyst funding to the world’s top researchers in the pursuit of the most innovative, cross-cutting approaches to finding diagnoses, treatments, and cures for brain disease. The program targets research topics across multiple disease areas. For example, we know that inflammation of the nervous system is a common factor across multiple brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Learning more about neuroinflammation in general could help doctors and scientists better understand how to regulate that inflammation, allowing for improved treatments for multiple diseases. 

Our 2022 Cure One, Cure Many Award aims to find a biomarker (diagnostic test) for Lewy body dementia, the second most common cause of neurodegenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Our next large-scale research initiative will focus on understanding neuroinflammation, a crucial underlying mechanism in a number of neurologic diseases.

How You Can Make an Impact

We unite donors and researchers to improve the lives of people living with brain disease and their loved ones. The good news is that individuals like you can make an impact. There are many actions you can take to support research breakthroughs that will lead to improved treatments and cures for diseases across the whole spectrum of the brain:

  • Donate to fund the Foundation’s many research programs. Your gift invests in research to improve treatments and find cures across all brain diseases.
  • With our new peer-to-peer fundraising, you can start a personal fundraiser to get your friends and family involved in supporting brain disease research.
  • There are many other ways to make an impact, whether it’s becoming a sustaining Brain Squad member, leaving a legacy gift, or making a gift in a loved one’s name. Discover more ways to give.

Life without brain disease is possible—and we’ll get there faster with your support. Funding research across the entire brain and nervous system is our best hope for finding better treatments, prevention, and cures for the brain diseases affecting millions of people worldwide.

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.