American Brain Foundation Takes Our Cause to the Public

December 1, 2012


Dr. Bruce Sigsbee

Since the American Brain Foundation was launched in 1993, it has raised more than $16 million to fund clinical research training fellowships in neurology. While substantial progress has been made in research into preventing, treating, and curing brain disease, we all know that effective treatments for many of the disorders neurologists care for are not available. That's why the Foundation underwent significant changes earlier this year, including a new name and a simple yet bold mission: to cure brain disease.

As Dr. John Mazziotta, chair of the Foundation, explained at the 2012 Annual Meeting and again in AANnews, this is the perfect time for a new strategy. The public has a much greater awareness of brain disease as they care for increasing numbers of family members who have experienced stroke, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, autism, and scores of other debilitating disorders. They are recognizing the enormous economic costs of treating these diseases, personally and nationally. And while not everyone has gotten the message, more people understand the role and value of neurologists, and how we differ from those who wield the scalpel.

As neurologists, we know this new strategy is necessary as we have witnessed the stagnation of government research dollars, which are further endangered by the hard choices that need to be made to resolve our crushing national debt. We have a history of 30 years of great neuroscience. We are on the verge of translating that knowledge into meaningful treatments for neurologic disease at the same time that research dollars are declining. The American Brain Foundation's goal is to begin to expand funding to accelerate the development of treatments and cures.

This new goal for the Foundation is ambitious. The vision is to establish the American Brain Foundation as a household word on par with the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. The Foundation's fundraising objective is to raise $25 million over the next 10 years so it can increase the number of research scientists who receive vital financial support for their work. In doing this, the Foundation will become the go–to source for finding a cure for brain disease, the world leader in funding clinical research training fellowships. That's why the American Brain Foundation will be making a decisive pitch to the public in 2013. The Foundation started the momentum for this campaign last summer, when a public service announcement was shown in Times Square and seen more than 183 million times between June and September. The Foundation will be making an even bigger impact in the months and years ahead. We will be targeting the public for small donations, corporations, and major donors over the next few years.

What can you do?

All of us touch patients and families every day that may wish to help. Donations of any size are valuable. You can contact Suzi Sherman at the American Brain Foundation directly at (612) 928–6315, particularly for potential major donors. Patients and families also can be referred to the website. I also urge you to help launch this effort by making an end–of–year donation online at or checking off the donation on your membership dues invoice. I personally strongly support the Foundation. We have helped launch many great research careers. Many worthy projects go unfunded.

Bruce Sigsbee, MD, FAAN
President, AAN