The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has been awarded $1.53 million in funding over six years to create and maintain BrainFacts.org, a unique nonprofit online source for authoritative public information about the progress and promise of brain research. With joint founding partners The Kavli Foundation and The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, SfN will launch the Web site in late spring 2012 to communicate with the public, educators, and policymakers about revolutionary advances in understanding the brain and mind.
"Neuroscientists are deeply committed to engaging with the public about the progress, promise, and value of exploring 'the universe between our ears,'" said SfN President Susan Amara, PhD. "Brain research is a vital and exciting field filled with major achievements, profound unknowns, and tremendous importance for society. Given new ways to communicate ideas and information, and an explosion of discovery about brain function, BrainFacts.org creates an exciting opportunity for the field to engage more actively and effectively in dialogue with the public. We are grateful to The Kavli Foundation and The Gatsby Charitable Foundation for their support of this important initiative," Amara said.
Initially, material will draw on a wealth of scientifically reviewed public information and teaching tools developed or maintained by SfN and key content partners. As the site grows, BrainFacts.org will provide interactive information about basic and clinical brain research; facts about brain diseases and disorders; strategies to promote brain health and wellness; promising discoveries and key concepts such as neuroplasticity; and the growing role of neuroscience in societal discussions on health, education, ethics, law, and more. High-quality teaching tools for primary and secondary level educators will continue to be incorporated and the site will use multimedia and social media to foster learning and dialogue with public audiences.
Over time, the site will complement and leverage the field's global commitment to public information by integrating multimedia resources from leading neuroscience centers worldwide. Moreover, in an era where scientific misinformation is rampant, BrainFacts.org content will be evaluated by leading scientists to ensure accuracy and to help dispel "neuromyths," which range from poorly interpreted concepts of "left-brain or right-brain learners" to inaccurate claims of links between autism and childhood vaccines.
"With BrainFacts.org, The Gatsby Charitable Foundation seeks to ensure that accurate information about the brain and nervous system is available to the public, educators, and policymakers worldwide, without boundaries or borders," said Lord Sainsbury of Turville, the Settlor of The Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
"SfN's strong international presence makes them a natural partner to communicate discoveries being made by today's global neuroscience community and to invest in tomorrow's breakthroughs by helping to inspire and educate the next global generation of scientists and citizens," said Sarah Caddick, PhD, Principal Advisor for Neuroscience to Lord Sainsbury of Turville.
The collaboration between BrainFacts.org founding partners reflects the organizations' shared commitment to key core principles that advance science, such as expanding public awareness of emerging scientific discovery, strengthening international scientific collaboration, and ensuring a strong and vibrant basic science enterprise.
"We are very pleased to be working with the Society for Neuroscience and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation on such an ambitious and important project one that uses the power of the Internet to provide the world a trusted source of information about the brain, and does so by using the extraordinary resources and expertise of SfN," said Fred Kavli, Founder and Chairman of The Kavli Foundation.
Said Robert W. Conn, President of The Kavli Foundation, "In the coming years, scientists hope both to uncover the secrets behind our most devastating neurological diseases, and to understand how the brain makes us who we are. BrainFacts.org will create a platform to share exciting developments in brain research with everyone, from teachers and policymakers to the person who simply needs to know more about a neurological disease."