The challenge that faces neuroscience in the coming decades is to obtain a coherent and unified view of the relationship between gene activity, neurons, neural circuit function, and behaviour. Multiple levels of analysis and investigation will be needed to reveal the structure and function of the brain or to explain vision, decision-making, motor control, memory, cognition and any other behaviour.
Gatsby’s pioneering investments in neuroscience began in the 1990s in the area of theoretical neuroscience with the establishment of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London (UCL).
In 2007 the Trustees decided to expand the investment in this exciting field, and embarked on an ambitious programme of funding experimental research projects in the area of neural circuits and behaviour via consortia around the world and building a major new research institute, the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, at UCL. The Centre opened in 2016, and hosts a diverse group of scientists from different disciplines including computation, physics, chemistry and engineering, all working to progress our understanding of how behaviour is generated from the complex patterns and properties of neurons.
Our focus is on fundamental basic research, with a portfolio that spans genes to behaviour. Investing in basic science that is not driven by one single disorder or the quest for a ‘cure’ is essential to meeting the challenge of identifying, observing, manipulating and ultimately understanding the circuits that generate behaviour. The knowledge accumulated through these studies will underpin many of the future breakthroughs in neurological and psychiatric disorders.
In addition to funding research that will advance knowledge in experimental and theoretical neuroscience, we support a range of related activities that help develop the wider neuroscience sector. For example, we support conference series for sharing the latest data and networking, as well as advanced training workshops to disseminate the latest research methods as well as nurture the research leaders of the future.
We are assisted in our neuroscience programmes by Dr Sarah Caddick (CEO of Thalamic Ltd). Our funding is directed and proactive. We do not accept unsolicited applications; however we are always keen to establish strong links with other funders, programmes and centres that share our goals and complement our current investments.