(click here to skip to sections Research in the Service of Human Health: brain and immuno-imaging, clinical neuroscience research, neuroimmunology, human immunology, immuno-defense; Science Education: K-12 learning, adult learning; Neuroethics; Arts Education: grantee gatherings, the rural initiative; Dana Arts and Cognition Consortium; or a summary of all program grant appropriations in 2006. Also see grant guidelines in a separate section.)
Dana continues to fund innovative approaches to improving education and the application of science to bettering people’s lives. From consortia and workshops aimed at translating the results of basic science into clinical approaches to diagnosing and treating brain and immune-system diseases, and through in-the-field teacher training, our grants reflect our complementary goals of stimulating successful innovation and sharing that knowledge with specialists and the public. We seek out projects that make connections, cross disciplines, and require educators or researchers to break down barriers to communication and include “outsiders” (from scientists working in other disciplines to working artists) in the discussion. In 2006, we awarded nearly $26 million in direct grants and programs, bringing our running philanthropic total to $412 million. We are here to stay: At the end of 2006, our investment portfolio, which earned a 14.5 percent return for the year, reached $330 million, an all-time high.
Through our science and health grants, Dana funds pilot studies to test new hypotheses about how the brain and the immune system function in health and disease. We favor new investigators, as a way to draw talent into the field and to enable them to develop early results that may lead to the bigger grants from other sources to pursue promising ideas. We also fund established investigators who wish to take a leap in a new direction or test a fledgling theory. We encourage experienced researchers to mentor newer colleagues. We reward fresh ideas and risk taking.
In 2006, grantees’ projects included work to deepen the “sight” (resolution) of scanning technologies, to determine how some immune cells teach other immune cells to recognize foreign invaders, and to better define the edges of human consciousness. Many researchers we fund are investigating how neural networks function normally or are interrupted by diseases, including asking what jobs specific cells perform and how newly developing and injured brains “wire and rewire” brain cell connections. Others are investigating how specialized immune cells communicate instructions to immune “attackers” to improve a person’s defenses against invading infectious agents; how brain cells in some minimally conscious patients make new neural connections that enable them to regain some communication abilities, including speech; and how to trace where brain chemicals travel and what cells they talk to on the way.
Through our arts education grants, Dana funds programs that train performing artists to work in public schools. By promoting a range of organizations and projects in an increasing number of locations, we have been able to develop a series of “best practices” that other programs can use as models and mentors, thus drawing more artists into education and exposing more children to this critical creative outlet. We are examining the potential of such learning and creating in such realms as the ability to concentrate.
In 2006, arts education grantees’ projects reached farther than our usual three city hubs (New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC): Programs in central Florida, New Mexico, and central California were among the recipients of our first year of “rural” grants.
Through our academic and adult science education grants, Dana funds lectures, workshops, publications, and symposia for children and adults, scientists and laypeople. As always, one of our aims is to spread the word on how significant (and interesting) brain science, immunology, and arts education are in all our lives.
RESEARCH IN SERVICE OF HUMAN HEALTH
Brain and Immuno-imaging
We support research emanating from innovative ideas that show promise but likely would not get funded by traditional (federal) sources because there is little preliminary evidence that the approach will work at all. This “seed money” often helps researchers with promising initial results to then find larger-scale federal or private sector funds that allow them to expand their studies.
For example, Brian Ross, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Michigan, using a 1998 Dana Foundation grant, found a way to measure treatment-induced changes in a tumor’s diffusion (spread) within the brain by designing a diffusion MRI map, or “functional diffusion map.” This information, which a standard MRI can’t provide, is critical for quickly determining whether a treatment is having any effect against rapidly progressing deadly tumors.
The data they collected using the Dana Foundation grant were critical to obtaining funding to start a human brain tumor imaging clinical study—a four-year, $11.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. Their work continues to show success—they recently received renewal funding from the institutes for another five years of research.
Dana-funded investigators use the latest brain imaging technologies to develop better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent brain diseases. Five years ago, we extended our support to pioneers of cellular and molecular imaging techniques, who are developing technologies to see and follow the actions of individual cells, both immune and neural cells, and of the molecules within these cells. By imaging single brain cells over time, for instance, researchers can watch how each cell is linked in neural networks involved in our actions and behaviors. Cellular imaging studies now make up about half of all our newly funded imaging projects. Researcher interest is high: There were 144 applicants in 2006, of which 26 were selected for funding.
In 2006, after twelve years of awarding grants for brain imaging research, Dana retained an outside expert to do an objective “status review” by taking a look at what we have funded, how we fund, what has come of it, and what we might aim for in the future. Dr. William C. Mobley, former chairman of the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University and current director of the Stanford Brain Research Institute, concluded from the data he collected that the work we have funded is of excellent quality and impact, has provided important encouragement of the use of cutting-edge technologies for clinically relevant issues, has enhanced development of early-career investigators, and should be continued.
Briefly, other examples of what Dana-funded researchers have found in the past twelve years:
- Adults activate different regions of their brains compared with children when they generate words. (Bradley Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI))
- While language is usually a function of the left side of the brain, Rochester researchers have discovered that users of American Sign Language among people who are deaf in this country show activation of both sides of the brain compared with people who use spoken language. (Daphne Bavelier, Ph.D., University of Rochester, using fMRI)
- Bleeding that damages the brain’s basal ganglia can result in a loss of inhibitory control, such as seen with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Prematurely born children who had bleeding in areas near the basal ganglia had four times the incidence of ADHD. (B. J. Casey, Ph.D., New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center, using fMRI)
- Geoffrey Boynton, Ph.D., from the Salk Institute, settled the question of whether it is the fMRI signal or the brain’s neurons that adapt to repeated stimuli: It is the fMRI signal. In the visual cortex, the signal’s adaptation increases along the hierarchy of stages of visual processing. This result has fundamental implications for how all researchers interpret their fMRI results.
Dana funding has reflected our priorities: (1) encouraging new applications of existing imaging technologies and development of new technologies; (2) developing new diagnostic methods; (3) understanding the processes of brain and immune-related diseases; (4) finding ways to make current treatment better; and (5) describing how the healthy brain and immune cells work.
On the basis of Dr. Mobley’s 2006 assessment, our scientific advisors agreed that we should consider extending our reach into research that further examines the role of brain cells in neural networks (“circuits”) and the ways in which participation in neural circuits affects the functioning of individual cells. In 2007, Dana will make that a sixth priority.
Some work in progress in 2006:
- Hoby Hetherington, Ph.D., and colleagues at Albert Einstein College of Medicine reported this year that MRS (magnetic resonance spectroscopy) can be used with people with temporal lobe epilepsy to help predict how successful surgery will be in controlling their seizures. Using MRS, they found that a metabolic impairment in the brain’s hippocampus, due to ongoing epileptic seizures, spreads throughout the thalamus and basal ganglia. The greater the extent and severity of this metabolic impairment throughout these three brain regions, the less the chance that surgery will help to control the seizures.
- Goffried Schlaug, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard University used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and transcranial direct (electric) current stimulation (TDCS) to identify brain areas involved as stroke patients recovered the ability to move an affected hand and wrist. They found that regaining movements that take longer to recover (such as turning a key) and those that require fine motor control (like finger movements) involves relatively large brain networks. These include networks on both the injured and the non-injured sides of the brain. The researchers do not yet know whether activation of the non-injured brain hemisphere is important for recovery of motor function. In fact, some early evidence suggests that when the non-injured hemisphere is activated as the recovering hand is moving, recovery is hindered; blocking this activation with either or both TMS and TDCS facilitates motor recovery.
- Andrew L. Kung, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at Dana-Farber Cancer Center refined a new method to quickly determine whether experimental therapies tested in animal models can effectively treat deadly brain tumors called gliomas. The researchers were able to genetically engineer glioma cells to emit light that can be detected by a sensitive low-light camera. They inject the glowing tumor cells into the brains of mice, then give the mice experimental cancer treatments and measure the amount of light that is emitted. Relatively little light indicates that the experimental treatment has decreased the tumor; more light indicates that the tumor has grown and the experimental treatment is ineffective. This rapid method for evaluating drug effects could help accelerate the discovery of new brain tumor therapies.
- Robert S. Negrin, M.D., and colleagues at Stanford University have found that certain immune “killer” cells derived from bone marrow transplants in laboratory mice with leukemia attack the cancer without damaging the animals’ own cells. The investigators, co-funded by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, use cellular imaging to track the immune killer cells, which glow because they have been marked with the enzyme that causes fireflies to light up. In humans, such bone marrow transplants often result in “graft versus host disease,” as the transplanted immune cells attack the recipient’s own healthy cells as well as the tumor cells. These studies have demonstrated that transplanted immune killer cells attack the tumor without impairing the animals’ own cells, enabling them to better recover and fend off the tumor.
Clinical Neuroscience Research
The research we fund makes the vital connection between what scientists learn “on the bench” (in the laboratory) and how that knowledge can be used to improve human health. Our clinical neuroscience research grants support translation of treatments that show promise in animal models of devastating brain diseases into the first stages of testing in people with those diseases. This work also includes developing ethical guidelines for how and when to do such research and developing aggregate information on the outcomes of various interventions used to treat patients with complex conditions, such as stroke, to determine which interventions work best in specific circumstances.
Dana’s “first in patient” funding fills a critical gap: Only after researchers show promising results in initial testing in a small number of patients will the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide funds to expand on such clinical testing. Industry funding for large-scale clinical trials takes its lead from NIH-funded successes. Dana funding gets the ball rolling.
We invite applications from researchers we know to be ready to conduct such research, and occasionally investigators approach us with well-developed clinical research plans. Seven studies have been funded to date, totaling $1.9 million.
In addition to research on minimal consciousness in adults, we have funded studies on a range of devastating brain diseases. Here are some of the studies currently in progress:
- Alzheimer’s disease: A promising new imaging agent, Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB), which is used with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, may be a means to conclusively diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest stages. The validity of PIB-PET is being tested by its developers at the University of Pittsburgh and consortium colleagues from the University of Michigan and Washington University in St. Louis. The consortium was awarded a Dana grant in September 2004 to see whether PIB-PET reliably detects the presence and distribution of brain amyloid deposits in adults with mild cognitive impairments that may progress to Alzheimer’s disease. If so, PIB-PET might also become a tool for assessing experimental therapies aimed at depleting brain amyloid or preventing its accumulation.
- Parkinson’s disease: Although Parkinson’s usually can be treated with medication, the drugs lose effectiveness over time in some patients, who develop intractable symptoms. Deep brain stimulation using surgically implanted electrodes holds promise for helping these patients, if techniques for precisely placing electrodes can be improved to make the technology work optimally. Scientists at the Institute of Neurology, University College, London, were awarded a grant in December 2004 to determine whether two techniques they developed in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease can help them pinpoint precise brain locations for implanting the electrodes.
- Stroke: Treating stroke immediately is vital to minimizing damage in the brain
so that function is maintained or restored in the parts of the body controlled by the affected brain area. Neurological Institute of New York investigators were awarded funds in September 2005 to develop and test a computerized monitoring system that could be used, in “real time,” to alert doctors to impending problems in stroke patients being treated in intensive care units. The system aims to prevent further damage to brain tissues by monitoring several interrelated brain events relating to brain oxygenation and metabolism and alerting physicians at the first signs of trouble. The goal is to develop a monitoring system that can be exported to other hospitals.
- Heroin relapse prevention: Heroin relapse has been reported to be a major contributor to re-incarceration, but a long-acting form of a drug to prevent relapse may help interrupt this cycle. A consortium coordinated by the University of Pennsylvania, involving Brown University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, and the Medical University of South Carolina, was awarded a Dana grant in March 2006 to conduct a multisite study of the long-acting form of the medical drug naltrexone in preventing relapse (and re-incarceration) among adults on parole or probation who have a history of heroin addiction.
- Severe depression: A 2006 grant to Helen Mayberg, M.D., and colleagues at Emory University will allow her to expand on her efforts to determine whether deep brain stimulation effectively treats severe depression in people whose illness has not responded to available medications. This research grew from Dr. Mayberg’s initial Dana-funded imaging research several years ago that indicated that a specific brain region (called area 25) was centrally involved in depression. A preliminary study in a small number of patients with intractable depression suggests that this treatment may be beneficial: Their stubborn low mood did not merely lift, some patients reported, but disappeared. Now Dana funds will support testing in a larger number of patients.
This year, as well, a Dana grant will enable translational research neurosurgeons at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Iowa, and the University of Toronto to design collaborative research to better understand the neural basis of human cognition, based on direct recording in patients of specific brain cells’ activities. These neurosurgeons work with people who require surgical treatment for intractable epilepsy, movement, and other brain-related disorders that do not respond to medications. They make their surgical plans in large part on the basis of information they gather from electrical recordings conveyed by electrodes placed on the surface of the patient’s brain or implanted deep within brain structures. During this presurgical information-gathering process, they also conduct research to learn about the activity of single brain cells or combinations of brain cells while patients perform a cognitive task, and they assess how applying weak stimulation at a certain electrode affects patients’ performance of the task.
The consortium will first work with cognitive neuroscientists to identify fundamental questions about human cognition that might be answered by studying these brain cell recordings, and determine how best to combine the neurosurgical researchers’ expertise in different areas of the brain to address key questions. Possible research areas include visual perception, auditory perception, declarative and non-declarative memory, intention, decision, motor planning, and emotional processing. The team also will determine how to compare information gained from direct single-neuron recording to that obtained from functional MRI imaging and create an online database for use by investigators worldwide.
As researchers better understand the brain functions involved in cognition at the level of the single neuron and the networks that neurons form, they also will gain a better understanding of various neurological diseases and how they might be treated.
Clinical neuroscience researchers tackle tough but vitally important brain diseases, conditions, and injuries that have the potential to profoundly improve patients’ lives. Some studies will fail, and some will take longer than anticipated, but others, such as the work of Nicolas Schiff, M.D., and Joseph Fins, M.D., may lead to profound new advances in understanding and ultimately treating brain diseases and injuries. These two researchers, working at Cornell University, pioneered the development of ethical guidelines for undertaking experimental studies in minimally conscious adults. They and collaborators at other institutions reported in 2006 that deep brain stimulation helped a minimally conscious patient regain some verbal communication abilities six years after sustaining a brain injury.
Dana’s support for this emerging field combines our interests in the brain and in the immune system. Neuroimmunology studies hold promise for understanding how the nervous system and the immune system interact to prevent or even produce disease. But studying the interactions of both systems requires a lot from researchers: Neurologists and immunologists must learn one another’s language and research methods, then together decide which will serve to best answer a given research question that neither might have thought of alone. They also must translate basic research findings into studies that can be undertaken in patients, and test clinical observations through basic research that can prove a nurse’s or physician’s hunch right.
We join the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation in co-funding some of the research in this field, as well as in imaging, and in the field of human immunology, described in the next section.
Recently funded investigators are at the beginning or only midway through their three-year studies, but already eight of the seventeen grants selected for funding through 2004 have received follow-on funding from other sources. Two examples:
- Cornell investigators funded by Dana in 2002 found in mice that certain antibodies can destroy brain amyloid that builds up in Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers then used monoclonal techniques to make these antibodies and have since received a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test whether the antibodies successfully attack the amyloid in the mice.
- While last year we reported that Harvard’s Carla Shatz, M.D., and her postdoctoral fellow Akash Datwani were surprised to learn that “MHC Class I” molecules that help immune cells recognize invaders also seem to guide brain cell connections during development, this year they learned that these molecules actually limit the ability of brain cells to form new connections. They now suspect that blocking the molecules’ function may aid in patients’ recovery from accidental brain injury or stroke.
In 2006, nine grants were awarded from among 70 recommended candidates in the United States and Europe. Some studies focus on “autoimmune” diseases, in which errant immune cells attack brain cells, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and lupus. For instance, Yale researchers studying MS have found evidence that errant immune T cells sneak past a barrier erected between the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid to get into brain tissue and attack the myelin sheath that insulates nerve cell fibers. Other researchers are studying a molecule that appears to link stress to immune suppression and determining whether this molecule contributes to auto-immune or inflammatory diseases.
Including 2006 funding, the Foundation has supported a total of 30 neuroimmunology studies, totaling $7.9 million.
Human immunology researchers explore how the human immune system protects against viral and bacterial infections, parasites, and fungi. Many of our grants support research to strengthen innate immunity, helping the body’s first line of defense mount better short-term general defenses and better teach the “adaptive” immune cells (T and B immune cells) to recognize an intruder so they can attack it. We also support research to determine how the immune system in some people turns against itself, producing autoimmune diseases or allergies.
Dana support is enabling human immunology researchers to pioneer patient-oriented studies, demonstrate feasibility and results, and attract and mentor the next generation of human immunology leaders. Through translational research—applying laboratory results to clinical studies and testing clinical observations in the laboratory—investigators seek answers to such questions as how the human immune system ordinarily protects the body from infection and why it sometimes fails to do so; why allergies develop; how some people develop autoimmune diseases; and whether we might improve patients’ own immune cells (for example, in cases of cancer) by taking the cells out, trying to strengthen them, and then placing them back in the patient. Investigators also identify how therapies might most effectively improve outcomes of immune-related diseases and cancers, by measuring immune responses to experimental therapies in patients participating in clinical trials funded by others.
Examples of Dana-funded research:
- A consortium of researchers at the University of Montreal and Sunnybrook Health Science Centre are studying patients with blood-related cancers such as leukemia who received bone-marrow transplants, trying to predict which transplant recipients will develop graft-versus-host disease (in which the newly transplanted immune cells attack healthy tissue). They have focused on 20 genes (culled from an earlier study of 19,000 genes) and are determining which are most likely to produce a harmful immune protein that triggers the attack. Their results could help doctors decide whether a transplant is advisable by using a simple genetic test of potential donors.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that produces progressive swelling in the body’s joints and the release of an overabundance of cytokines, proteins that guide additional immune cells to inflamed joints. Kevin J. Tracey, M.D., and colleagues at North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System were surprised to find that cytokine release is controlled by the vagus nerve, which had been thought to control only such automatic functions as respiration and heart rate. The researchers have developed a way to measure autonomic nervous system activity in people, via measuring their heart rate, and are working to find ways to control the vagus nerve’s influence over cytokines to prevent or reduce arthritis symptoms.
- Cancer “stem cells,” which make up less than one percent of total tumor cells, are the ones that drive the cancer to grow. Madhav Dhodapkar, M.D., at Rockefeller University, and Olivera Finn, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh, and their colleagues have found that people’s immune T and B cells are able to recognize proteins in these stem cells during the “pre-malignant” phase of a cancer (before a tumor grows, spreads, and produces symptoms). That gives hope that researchers might find a way to strengthen immune cell responses to these stem cell proteins to prevent tumor growth.
What limits the pool of top human immunologists and support for their research? One obstacle is that researchers cannot control factors in clinical studies as well as they control basic studies; events in patients’ everyday life may confound the results, for example. Second, clinical research is slow. Research designs necessarily involve rigorous procedures to ensure that patients are not exposed to unnecessary risks. Also, approvals by institutional review boards for studies involving humans often (quite properly) require long periods of careful scrutiny. Then, finding patients who fit the study protocol exactly (for example, people who acquired an allergy to cats as adults or people who have had three or more bouts of depression while on medication) takes time.
Dana is addressing these problems. Our initial funding enables grantee-investigators to develop the data that improve their chances for larger-scale federal support and start the process of gaining approvals for further human research. Our support for consortia—teams of researchers with different specialties and, usually, in different locations—makes such complex studies more effective and efficient and gives researchers access to a larger pool of potential research volunteers (more people who might have cat allergies or intractable depression). Finally, we are making a direct effort to increase the pool of human immunologists: Dana and the Irvington Institute for Immunological Research select several junior-level investigators who apply to become Dana-Irvington Fellows and learn from senior mentors. To date, there are eight fellows.
Supporting our goal of working across disciplines and departments, all nine projects granted funding in 2006 were to consortia—immunologists and other specialists with complementary areas of expertise (such as genetics, molecular biology, neuroscience, pharmacology) collaborating to carry out these complex clinical studies. In 2006, we granted $4.5 million to these projects; since 2002, Dana’s grants for human immunology research have totaled $13.6 million, supporting 38 studies and mentored clinical research training for thirteen medical students.
In spring 2001, Dana granted $3.5 million to support research on “immunodefense,” improving the immune system’s capacity to protect against deadly diseases and to develop better, and more rapid, treatments for these diseases. As the seven research teams reach the end of their five-year grants, all of them are showing substantial progress.
Several studies are following promising avenues toward developing effective therapies for smallpox and deadly bacteria such as anthrax. Researchers continue to pursue currently elusive effective treatment for prion diseases, such as “mad cow” disease and its human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Other work shows promise in strengthening the responses of the body’s immune system in general, as well as against specific diseases, such as viral encephalitis, that attack the brain.
Two of the studies focus on finding a treatment for smallpox. The vaccine against smallpox is no longer used, since the naturally occurring disease has been eradicated worldwide, but there is no effective treatment available if a person were to contract the disease from a bioweapon. Ellis Reinherz, M.D., and his colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that a drug intended to treat cancer acts as an antivirus against the variola virus, which causes smallpox, but the drug unfortunately can cause genetic mutations and so cannot be given to populations of healthy people. Now they are testing similar but non-toxic compounds. Bertram Jacobs, Ph.D., at Arizona State University, and Alexander Rich, M.D., at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have identified the area on the smallpox gene that causes the disease in humans, as well as the protein that this gene part produces. They are working to describe the properties of this area so that drugs could be designed that would target and block the virus.
Several Dana Foundation grants help the public to understand the brain, complementing the projects by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Foundation’s News Office described in those sections of this report.
The Dana Center in Austin, Texas, continues to expand its work in strengthening American mathematics and science education to create large-scale innovations to improve the educational standards in schools in Texas and across the nation. In Israel, the Dana Center for Science Literacy provides children and adults with courses, lectures, and symposia. More information on these programs can be found in the Dana Centers section of this report.
In New York, the Foundation continues to fund the Dana Brain Science Educator Series, at the New York Hall of Science, in which 25 middle school and high school teachers (Dana fellows) each year receive training so they can better develop curricula on the brain and brain research for their grade level. Dana funding often follows the lead of the Dana Alliance in this area; many of the Alliance’s education initiatives are described in the report on its activities.
The Library of Congress, with the support of a Dana grant, held “Demons of the Mind: Twenty-first-Century Science vs. Depression,” a symposium on depression. Steven E. Hyman, M.D., of Harvard University, a Dana Alliance member, and Philip Gold, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health, brought together 60 major leaders in psychiatric research for two days of discussion. About 300 people attended a public evening discussion that featured Dr. Hyman and Carl Elliott, Ph.D., a professor of bioethics and philosophy at the University of Minnesota and the author of Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream and Prozac as a Way of Life.
The Foundation also supported two seminars for federal and state judges, under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on how current advances in neuroscience will continue to affect court procedures. Topics included “false” memories and also whether brain scans can tell if a person is telling the truth.
In addition to the seminars, consortia meetings, and lectures, Dana funds other opportunities for scientists to collaborate and learn from one another. Since 2003, Dana funding has supported the New York Academy of Science’s Neuroimmunology Discussion Group, which seeks to bring together immunologists and neuroscientists who are interested in exploring the intersection of these two fields in periodic meetings discussing basic, clinical, and translational aspects of this emerging field. The academy disseminates the meeting proceedings widely through online electronic briefings that go into detail about the scientific information presented and exchanged at the meetings.
Dana also is funding travel and expenses for 25 postdoctoral fellows and graduate immunology students to attend a workshop on immunological intervention in human disease in 2007. In 2006, the Foundation also provided support for the annual conference of the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Diseases.
For the past five years, the Foundation and the Dana Alliance have worked to support the branch of ethics devoted to the implications of advancing brain research. We seek to promote an exchange of ideas among neuroscientists and non-scientists, including lawyers, philosophers, policymakers, businesspeople, and everyone else interested in these questions.
We have helped to sponsor three major conferences: “Neuroethics: Mapping the Field,” in Palo Alto, California (2002); “Neuroscience and the Law,” at the Dana Center in Washington, DC (2003); and “Hard Science—Hard Choices,” at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC (2005). Through Dana Press, we have released books based on each event.
In 2006, Dana was among the sponsors of a neuroethics workshop in Asilomar, California, run by the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics in Palo Alto, to discuss how to advance the field and engage more non-scientists in the debate. Workshop participants established the Neuroethics Society, which aims to provide all people interested in the growing field with a solid base for sustained dialogue and interaction. The society’s first executive committee meeting will be held at the Dana Center in Washington, DC, in 2007.
Also in 2006, Dana funded a program at Columbia University’s Center for Bioethics to design and produce Web-based neuroethics courses that are accessible and free to all.
Since 2001, when Dana started its arts education initiative, connection has been our guiding principle. We target our support very narrowly—to the training of artists and in-school arts specialists to teach pre-K–12 students. Beyond specific grants, we support this niche through the networks we have created, both formal (symposia, grantee gatherings, publications, Web resources) and informal (e-mail lists, continuing collaborations).
The institutions that we fund emphasize innovative training curricula for performing artists and in-school arts specialists. We fund two sets of grants each year, one for projects that originate within a 50-mile radius of Los Angeles, New York City, or Washington, DC (the “three-city round”) and one for projects in rural areas of the United States (the “rural initiative”).
Grant funding has increased each year in direct relation to Dana’s expanding knowledge and influence in the area. Dana symposia, grantee conferences, publications, and Web resources help our grantees as well as ensure that their work is available to advance the field as a whole. Including 2006 ($1.25 million), Dana has awarded 97 grants totaling $4.2 million. Arts education awards and the grant to the Dana Center at University of Texas for math education make up more than 10 percent of the Foundation’s direct grants.
Many of our grantees have now attended at least two Dana-sponsored grantee meetings, in 2004 and 2005, which are helping to create a network of arts organizations that are developing similar types of curricula. We discovered that though these institutions were dealing with similar obstacles and issues, they rarely had the time, resources, or opportunity to share solutions and best practices.
Helping them make these connections has already inspired new partnerships: Several of our grantee organizations have started collaborating on projects. For example, people from New York’s Community Word Project traveled to Los Angeles to spend a few days visiting residency classes and talking with the Los Angeles Music Center staff about their teaching artist training; then they led a two-hour session for the artists participating in the Music Center’s training. Michele Kotler, the executive director of the Community Word Project (CWP), reported: “I expected to learn about
their training and visit some of their residencies so I would have another point of reference to develop and refine CWP’s training. I had no idea how inspiring and fruitful the visit would be! I had many in-depth conversations with the creators of the Music Center’s training that in the best possible way schooled me about the field of arts in education and how it has reinvented itself time and time again.”
The next opportunity for many of the Dana grantees to meet will be at the national arts education symposium, “Transforming Arts Teaching: The Role of Higher Education.” The conference is planned for spring 2007. As with our earlier symposia, we will produce a publication that captures the content of the sessions; this time we will also make it available for downloading from our Web site (www.dana.org).
The Rural Initiative
In 2006, we began supporting arts organizations with the same mission as our three-city grantees but that serve rural areas of the United States. The first grants, totaling $245,000, were given to six performing arts organizations. In 2007, we will give a total of $377,000 to eleven organizations.
As with the three-city grants, we seek to support a range of models and create a roster of grantees to serve as a resource for others. In the first two rounds of rural initiative funding, we supported projects that are diverse—geographically, in the size of the arts organization, and in the method of training.
The second round of the rural initiative was the first open competition (the first round was by invitation only); applicants highlighted the challenges of gathering and coordinating cultural resources in rural regions. Some examples from the applications:
- Lack of experience and opportunity limits rural teachers’ pedagogical savvy . . . methods are often repetitive and unimaginative
- Rural teaching artists and arts specialists are challenged by their isolation from colleagues and the arts education field in general
- Rural music teachers are often the only music teacher in the school . . . they have little opportunity to meet with other music teachers and share ideas
- Rural counties are underserved because they lack access to educational, economic, and artistic resources
One rural grantee, the William Inge Center for the Arts in Independence, Kansas, is using Dana funds to create a network connecting the region’s cultural resources to foster a self-sustaining pool of teaching artists and trainers. The center’s five-year plan is to create a regional contingent of workshop leaders, trained in various aspects of arts education, who will travel to where the new teaching artists and classroom teachers are. Having an in-state pool of trained workshop leaders will eliminate the need to import arts education instructors from vast distances, and rural artists and teachers will not need to travel so far to learn how to bring arts education into the classroom.
Another of our first rural initiative grantees, the Van Wezel Center for the Performing Arts in Sarasota, Florida, came to us with a plan to extend a rural consortium that was already in place. The Heartland Educational Consortium supports elementary schools in the rural central corridor of Florida; through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, it offers instruction in the art forms and a foundation for arts integration through online distance learning. Our grant will provide the means to expand the project by making it person-toperson—training local teaching artists to work with teachers in the classroom, linking their art forms to the curriculum. The Van Wezel Center will work with the consortium to identify and train artists and coordinate their work in the schools.
DANA ARTS AND COGNITION CONSORTIUM
In 2004, we awarded more than $1.85 million in three-year grants to create a consortium to study whether early training in the performing arts—dance, drama, music—has a positive impact on cognition through detectable changes in brain processes. The consortium involves nine investigators at seven major universities: University of Oregon, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford University, Harvard University, University of Michigan, and Dartmouth College. Professor Michael Gazzaniga, widely known as “the father of cognitive neuroscience,” is the project’s organizer and leader.
The scientists are gathering data to help answer the question “Does training in the arts positively affect brain development?” via a variety of methods:
- Helen Neville’s ongoing study on the impact of music lessons on preschool children examines whether music training leads to improved cognition skills (University of Oregon).
- John Jonides has been studying the effect of training in the arts on working memory by scanning the brains of trained actors and musicians as they take memory tests (University of Michigan).
- Michael Posner is extending his work indicating that the positive cognitive effects associated with the arts are attributable to an increased ability to focus attention (University of Oregon).
- Elisabeth Spelke has been investigating whether instruction in the arts affects “domain-general” cognitive processes by assessing performance on various mathematical and geometrical tasks (Harvard University).
- Brian Wandell has been examining whether music training positively affects the reading process (Stanford University).
- Scott Grafton’s study involves testing whether there is a core set of brain structures involved in integrating visual, auditory, and motor stimuli as a consequence of dance training (University of California at Santa Barbara).
- Mark D’Esposito is looking at the neural system that underlies cognitive control in an effort to locate a biomarker revealing whether art training has an impact on the brain (University of California at Berkeley).
These and other studies by participants are in progress and will be described in a report to be released in late 2007. This initial broad look at a host of potential avenues for more-intense research has begun to unearth the most promising directions for further study.
At regular meetings, consortium scientists shared their work as well as heard from other experts in the field. Glenn Schellenberg, of the University of Toronto, presented his work on the effect of music lessons on measures of intelligence;
Daniel Levitin, of McGill University, provided insights into how music differs from other forms of art; and Ellen Winner, of Boston College, reviewed studies of the effects of music and theater training on children. Gottfried Schlaug, of Harvard University, offered insight into the effects of musical training on neuroplasticity, while Vinod Menon, of Stanford University, reported on the possible brain mechanisms associated with listening to music. Stanley Deheane, of the Collège de France, provided insightful feedback regarding the future of the consortium project.
The Dana Arts and Cognition Consortium studies continue, with teams of scientists working hard to deliver analysis and results and to assess whether their results can be qualified as causal or correlative. Though we do not assume that these extensive preliminary studies will provide a definitive answer to the question at hand, all of the work that is being done is contributing to our understanding of how the arts may affect cognition while raising provocative questions, providing fresh experimental data, and shedding some light on possible brain mechanisms involved.
Summary of Program Grant Appropriations in 2006
Arts and Cognition Consortium
Dartmouth College—Hanover, NH
Harvard University—Cambridge, MA
Stanford University—Palo Alto, CA
University of California, Berkeley, CA
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, MI
University of Oregon—Eugene, OR
Actors’ Fund of America—New York, NY
Acadiana Arts Council—Lafayette, LA
Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts—Montgomery, AL
Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire—Littleton, NH
Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County—Silver Spring, MD
Ballet Hispanico—New York, NY
Brooklyn Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Inc.—Brooklyn, NY
Carnegie Hall, Inc.—Lewisburg, WV
Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles—Los Angeles, CA
Central Coast Center for Arts Education—San Luis Obispo, CA
Community Word Project—New York, NY
Denver Center for the Performing Arts—Denver, CO
Empire State Partnership for Professional Development—New York, NY
Inside Out Community Arts—Venice, CA
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival—Becket, MA
Jazz at Lincoln Center, Inc.—New York, NY
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Arts Commission—Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Philharmonic Association—Los Angeles, CA
Midori & Friends—New York, NY
Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education—Hattiesburg, MS
New 42nd Street, Inc.—New York, NY
Peabody Institute—Baltimore, MD
PEN Foundation—Winchester, TN
Performance Lab—St. Paul, MN
Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles—Los Angeles, CA
Renovation in Music Education—Washington, DC
Shakespeare Theatre Company—Washington, DC
Utah State University—Logan, UT
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall—Sarasota, FL
VSA Arts, Inc.—Washington, DC
Washington Performing Arts Society—Washington, DC
Young Audiences, Inc.—New York, NY
Young Audiences New York—New York, NY
Brain and Immuno-imaging
Baylor College of Medicine—Houston, TX
Carnegie-Mellon University—Pittsburgh, PA
Columbia University—New York, NY
Harvard University—Cambridge, MA
Hebrew University—Jerusalem, Israel
Massachusetts General Hospital—Boston, MA
Medical University of South Carolina—Charleston, SC
North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System Foundation—Great Neck, NY
Northwestern University—Chicago, IL
Salk Institute—San Diego, CA
Stanford University—Palo Alto, CA
Tufts University—Boston, MA
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Francisco
University of Colorado—Denver, CO
University of Iowa—Iowa City, IA
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, MI
University of Minnesota—Duluth, MN
University of Missouri—Columbia, MO
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, NC
University of Rochester—Rochester, NY
University of Utah—Salt Lake City, UT
University of Washington—Seattle, WA
Wake Forest University—Winston-Salem, NC
Yale University—New Haven, CT
Clinical Neuroscience Research
Consortium (identifying cells and circuits in cognitive functioning)
University of California, Los Angeles (Coordinator)
University of Iowa—Iowa City, IA
University of Toronto—Toronto, Canada
Consortium (assessing heroin relapse prevention)
Brown University—Providence, RI
Medical College of South Carolina—Charleston, SC
University of Pennsylvania (Coordinator)—Philadelphia, PA
University of Virginia—Charlottesville, VA
Virginia Commonwealth University—Richmond, VA
Emory University—Atlanta, GA
Weill Medical College of Cornell University—New York, NY
Consortium (identify immune responses against hepatitis C)
Ain Shams University—Cairo, Egypt
University of Montreal—Montreal, Canada
University of Southampton—Southampton, England
Consortium (innate immunity in latent compared to active TB)
Baylor Institute of Immunological Research—Dallas, TX
MRC National Institute for Medical Research—London, England
Consortium (how RSV virus subverts immunity)
Baylor Institute of Immunological Research—Dallas, TX
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center—Dallas, TX
Consortium (study of bacterial toxin in graft-versus-host disease)
Children’s Hospital Boston—Boston, MA
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute—Boston, MA
University of Iowa—Iowa City, IA
Consortium (understanding immune response in schistosomiasis)
Hunan Institute of Parasitic Diseases—Yueyang, China
Queensland Institute of Medical Research—Brisbane, Australia
Consortium (identifying immune B cell defects in spondyloarthritis)
Institut de Transplantation et de Recherché en Transplantation—Paris, France
University of Amsterdam—Amsterdam, Netherlands
University of California, Irvine
Consortium (unraveling immunologic cascade in allergic asthma)
King’s College—London, England
M. D. Anderson Cancer Center—Houston, TX
Consortium (studying innate immunity in bone marrow transplants)
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center—Seattle, WA
Mount Sinai School of Medicine—New York, NY
Consortium (immunological pathway in systemic autoimmune diseases)
University of Washington—Seattle, WA
Uppsala University—Uppsala, Sweden
Irvington Institute for Immunological Research, New York, NY
(Dana-Irvington Fellows Program)
University of Alabama—Birmingham, AL
University of Amsterdam—Amsterdam, Netherlands
Consortium (brain inflammation and chronic epilepsy)
Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche—Milan, Italy
Scripps Research Institute—La Jolla, CA
Biomedical Primate Research Center—Postbus, Netherlands
Garvan Institute of Medical Research—Darlinghurst, Australia
Institut de Recerca—Barcelona, Spain
Massachusetts General Hospital—Boston, MA
Northwestern University—Chicago, IL
The Open University—Milton Keynes, England
The Rockefeller University—New York, NY
University of Bonn—Bonn, Germany
University of California, Riverside
Washington University School of Medicine—St. Louis, MO
Yale University School of Medicine—New Haven, CT
Non-Program Grants with Continued Funding in 2006
American Association for the Advancement of Science—Washington, DC
Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease—New York, NY
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories—Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Columbia University—New York, NY
Dana Center for Educational Innovation at the University of Texas—Austin, TX
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute—Boston, MA
Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies—Milwaukee, WI
Foundation Center—New York, NY
The Johns Hopkins University—Baltimore, MD
Manic Depressive Illness Foundation—Washington, DC
Museum of Modern Art—New York, NY
New York Academy of Sciences—New York, NY
New York Hall of Science—New York, NY
Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York—New York, NY
Tel Aviv University—Tel Aviv, Israel
Weizmann Institute—Rehovot, Israel