The Dana Foundation (Charles A. Dana Foundation) is a private philanthropic organization based in New York committed to advancing brain research and to educating the public in a responsible manner about research’s potential. Its goals are: (1) to develop a better understanding of the brain and its functions; (2) to speed the discovery of treatments for brain disorders; and (3) to combat the stigma of brain disorders through education.
The Foundation was founded in 1950 by Charles A. Dana, a legislator and businessman from New York State, and CEO of the Dana Corporation. He presided over the organization until 1960, but continued to participate until his death in 1975.
Edward F. Rover is the current chairman of the Foundation. He served as vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation before being elected president in 2000 and then chairman in 2009. Rover was a senior partner at White & Case, L.L.P. in New York City until December 31, 2003. Rover succeeded William Safire, who became Dana’s chairman following David Mahoney’s death in 2000.
The Dana Alliances
The Dana Foundation supports the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, nonprofit organizations of leading neuroscientists committed to advancing public awareness about the progress and promise of brain research. The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives was officially launched in 1993, and has more than 350 members, including nine Nobel laureates. The European Dana Alliance for the Brain was established in 1997, and has more than 260 members, including five Nobel laureates, from 32 countries.
Research Grant Programs
The Dana Foundation’s current area of research emphasis is in neuroscience, focusing on neuroimaging and clinical neuroscience research.
David Mahoney Neuroimaging grants support research on imaging innovations that help reveal how the human brain functions normally, how disorders and injuries alter these functions, and how various therapies affect these conditions.
The Clinical Neuroscience Research grants support researchers testing promising therapies that move from animal models to a small number of human patients with devastating, currently untreatable brain diseases (first-in-man studies). Also supported are studies to develop ethical guidelines in brain research.
The Foundation has a broad range of outreach initiatives for the general public and for targeted audiences. Major initiatives include:
Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. It celebrated its 20th anniversary in March 2015. Partner organizations host creative and innovative activities in their communities to educate kids and adults about the brain. In 2015, there were more than 787 events held in 52 countries and 43 US states. Brain Awareness Week 2016 will be held from March 14-20.
Staying Sharp focuses on how the brain changes as we age: healthy aging, memory loss, brain diseases and disorders. Panel discussions are held around the country, featuring experts in the field. Related videos and booklets are available on the Dana Foundation website.
The Dana Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) co-host Neuroscience and Society, a free public event series in Washington, DC. Past topics include sleep, arts and the brain, and the adolescent brain. Videos of the events can be viewed on the dana.org.
Neuroscience and the Law workshops provide state and federal judges with a better understanding of the role neuroscience may play in making legal determinations in the courts, from the admissibility of neuroimaging evidence to decisions about criminal culpability.
Capitol Hill Briefings are designed to educate Members of Congress and their staff about the latest advances in brain research.
The Dana Foundation website, dana.org, offers vetted information by scientists about the brain. There are free publications and videos, and dedicated sections for kids, educators, seniors, and patients and caregivers.
Web-based publications include news articles; primers; briefing papers; scientist Q&As; Reports on Progress, “hard-science” articles published quarterly and written by an expert in the field; and Cerebrum, a monthly long-form essay on cutting-edge topics also written by experts. A series of It’s Mindboggling publications are targeted to students at a range of reading levels; the series Staying Sharp: Successful Aging and the Brain is written for older adults. Brain in the News is a monthly print compendium of articles about the brain, with a column by science advisor Guy McKhann, Ph.D.
Since reinstituting the Dana Press in 2013 with the publication of Jane Nevin’s You’ve Got Some Explaining to Do: Advice for Neuroscientists Writing for Lay Readers, and two Cerebrum anthologies. The Nevins’ book is available as a free download on the Foundation website or for purchase in soft cover from Amazon. The Cerebrum anthologies can be purchased on Amazon, but the individual articles and book reviews are available free on dana.org in the Cerebrum archives. Scientific American Mind included the 2013 anthology on their list of "recommended for 2014 book" and PsycCritiques wrote that “the authors, among the most prominent researchers on each of the topics, present “new material and thought-provoking interpretations.”  The 2015 anthology featured a Foreword by former Science editor Barbara J. Culliton, who provided perspective on the current state of neuroscience, as well as on issues addressed in the Cerebrum articles. Bill Glovin, editor of Cerebrum, serves as Executive Director of the Dana Press, which is part of the Foundation’s Communications department.
- Dana Foundation website
- Philanthropy Roundtable
- [www.nytimes.com/2000/05/02/us/david-mahoney-a-business-executive-and-neuroscience-advocate-dies-at-76.html/ The New York Times]
- Dana Foundation website, About the Dana Alliances
- Dana Foundation website, Grants
- Dana Foundation website, Brain Awareness Week
- Dana Foundation website, Staying Sharp
- AAAS website
- Dana Foundation website, publications
- Dana Foundation website, You've Got Some Explaining to Do
- Dana Foundation website, Cerebrum anthologies
- Scientific American MIND review
- PsycCRITIQUES review