Carney Institute for Brain Science
Center for Computational Brain Science


The BRAINSTORM program aspires to have a lasting impact on the field of mental health by leveraging ideas and methods from computational brain science. We focus on building tools that can change the lives of millions suffering from mental health problems and help many others become happier and healthier.

To that end, we aim to:

  • Train impact-oriented brain scientists and connect them with industry
  • Advance projects and ideas with the potential for commercialization or broader adoption by the scientific community, industry or society in the area of mental health
  • Facilitate the translation and application of computational brain science research to clinical applications and commercialization
  • Unite brain science and industry to improve mental well-being
  • Lay the ground for new brain science-inspired startups that promote well-being
  • Provide a commercial launching pad and interdisciplinary training opportunities for impact-oriented brain scientists 

We are recruiting top research scientists from both academia and industry to contribute to meaningful projects at the interface between neuroscience, machine learning and brain disorders. The program is unique in that it aims to merge the best of both worlds: A strong academic basis for new discovery with the support and infrastructure typical for industrial settings, including seed funds, professional project management, team support, career development plans, and facilitation and support to build spinoff companies.

Frederike Petzschner Co-Director of the BRAINSTORM Program
Frederike Petzschner, Co-Director of the BRAINSTORM Program


Many of the most talented graduates in computational neuroscience, computer science or related fields are being recruited by industrial research groups that are interested in machine learning and artificial intelligence (such as Google/DeepMind, Amazon, Intel and Facebook), or by large pharmaceutical companies that have begun to appreciate the need for computation. Such graduates thrive in these positions, which maintain many of the benefits characteristic of academic environments—including a focus on basic discovery—but also offer the resources and incentives of industry.

In parallel, there is great need and opportunity for neuroscientists and computational researchers to help develop new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for mental health. This has manifested in the burgeoning fields of computational psychiatry and neurology. However, most of the progress in these fields has been purely academic, with little incentive and few opportunities to translate research into clinical applications. This translational gap is what we are trying to bridge with the BRAINSTORM program.

Why Brown?

Brown University is home to leading researchers in computational neuroscience investigating fundamental questions of brain computation, world leaders in artificial intelligence and physician scientists using cutting-edge approaches to understand the mechanisms underlying complex disorders. The University is ideally located at the heart of a larger BioMed, med tech and start-up ecosystem in the Boston/Providence area, providing the perfect ground for translational efforts in science.

Further, Brown's Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science provides a rich nexus of interdisciplinary collaborations amongst computational brain scientists, physician-scientists, engineers, designers, entrepreneurially minded students, and others. BRAINSTORM is a program within the Carney Institute.

Frederike Petzschner and Michael Frank, the program directors, have pioneered the development of the fields of computational psychiatry and neurology. Petzschner has been organizing the world’s largest course in computational psychiatry since 2015. Frank is a 2021 recipient of the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences for pioneering work in this field, and he is spearheading Brown's Center for Computational Brain Science at the Carney Institute.

How do I get involved?

Are you a Brown University researcher who is interested in becoming a BRAINSTORM innovator? Email us with a brief description of your project (1 page) and a motivation letter (2 pages) where you describe why you think you/your project is a great fit for the program and how your project can be translated into a real-world application and have a positive impact on mental health.