Commissioned by Tianqiao & Chrissy Chen

Minds wide open

Winner of
3 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards
Gold Standard Award for Broadcast & Video, Hong Kong

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The time for neuroscience is now

We are on the brink of unlocking the potential of the human mind and creating a better world.

This film explores how close we are to major breakthroughs that will lead to curing disease, augmenting the brain and helping humanity.

We need to act now to realize this potential.  It is only by increasing support for young scientists and fundamental brain research that we can take this important step.

Download our infographic to find out more.

The time for neuroscience is now

The spirit of discovery

We are on the brink of a number of exciting breakthroughs – discover below what’s needed to advance the science and unlock the secrets of the human mind.

Fundamental Research


Fundamental Research

By understanding how our brain develops and functions at cellular or neuronal levels, we’ll be able to advance the science, develop new technology, solve disease and disorders and unlock our mind’s full potential.

Young Scientists


Young Scientists

Most major breakthroughs in modern times have been made by scientists under the age of 40. It is critical to encourage more young people to enter the field and to support them in their research.

Medical Science


Medical Science

One can’t ignore the importance of clinical and medical investigation as it relates to brain science. Studying brain function within the cortical network or cerebellum, for example, will help us treat brain and cerebrovascular disease, tumors and trauma.

Technology & Applications


Technology & Applications

Understanding exactly how the brain functions will lead to major technology breakthroughs in next-generation Artificial Intelligence. It will also lead to perfecting the brain-machine interface, which can enable mind control of prosthetics and robots, or augmentation of our minds.

Meet the pioneers

These world-leading scientists are advancing brain research around the world.

<p>Richard A. Andersen, PhD</p>
<p> </p>

"It takes my breath away every time I see the subject sitting there in his or her wheelchair being able to, just through their thoughts, control robotic limbs or play a virtual piano or type on a virtual keyboard."

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Richard A. Andersen, PhD



Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center Director and Leadership Chair

James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience

<p>David Anderson, PhD</p>
<p> </p>

"The motivation for inquiry into the brain is twofold. One is to satisfy our innate curiosity about how this complex machine works. The other is to try to gain understanding that will help improve human health and welfare in general."

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David Anderson, PhD



Director of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech

<p>Diana Bautista, PhD</p>
<p>University of California, Berkeley</p>
<p> </p>

“The possibilities of understanding and curing disorders, treating psychiatric illness, and then to understand basic science, I think we're at the tipping point now. The benefits for everyone will be just enormous.”

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Diana Bautista, PhD

University of California, Berkeley


Associate Professor
Department of Molecular & Cell Biology
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

<p>Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD</p>
<p>Stanford University</p>

"The human brain is the source of cognition, thought, feeling, emotion, planning. It's perhaps the most complicated object in the universe, and we don’t really understand how it does what it does. That's what makes it such a wonderful object to study."

Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD

Stanford University

Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences D.H. Chen Professor

<p>Michael E. Greenberg, PhD</p>
<p><span>Harvard University​</span></p>

“Millions of years of evolution have had [an] impact to make a structure that's truly amazing; that endows us with the capacity to engage in art, in learning, in communication, in language - the most amazing abilities.”

Michael E. Greenberg, PhD

Harvard University​

Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology 
Harvard Medical School 

Harvard Brain Science Initiative
Harvard University​

<p>Sergiu P. Pasca, MD</p>
<p>Stanford University</p>

“I actually did not start by being fascinated by neuroscience. Meeting one of my first patients with autism is what really made a difference. Seeing the struggles of the parents and realizing how complex and puzzling this disorder really was, is what drew me towards the brain and brain disorders.”

Sergiu P. Pasca, MD

Stanford University

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

<p>Laura Roberts, MD, MA</p>
<p>Stanford University</p>

“It's very exciting to be in the field right now. We've just got such amazingly creative neuroscientists throughout the world and these very different techniques. Instead of inferring what happens in the brain, we can directly query what's happening in brain circuits or at the level of the cell that leads to a particular brain disorder.”

Laura Roberts, MD, MA

Stanford University

Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor in the School of Medicine

<p>Thomas F. Rosenbaum, PhD</p>

“We have an opportunity now like we've had few times before to move forward at a rapid pace, take full advantage of the skills of more and more young people across the world, and to be able to excite them about contributing to the betterment of the human condition.”

Thomas F. Rosenbaum, PhD


Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair

<p>Sir Nigel Shadbolt, PhD</p>
<p>Jesus College, Oxford University</p>

“I remain incredibly excited by Artificial Intelligence. In some respects, it's the most exciting time to be in the field. I think it's because we see momentum, a general awareness, levels of funding, levels of actual deployment of real systems, where people can say, that's actually AI.”

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Sir Nigel Shadbolt, PhD

Jesus College, Oxford University

Principal and Professorial Research Fellow in Computer Science

<p>Robert Tjian, PhD</p>
<p>University of California, Berkeley</p>
<p> </p>

“Neuroscience is truly at an inflection point, and I think that because of all the advances that we've made in so many different fields that are going to converge, it'll be a limitless frontier.”

Robert Tjian, PhD

University of California, Berkeley


Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology

<p>Nolan Williams, MD</p>
<p>Stanford University</p>
<p> </p>

“Depression is the number one, most disabling condition in the world. Trans-Cranial Stimulation (TMS) allows us to help treatment-resistant patients who don’t normally have treatment options and would allow us to save a lot of lives.”

Nolan Williams, MD

Stanford University


Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

<p>Liangfu Zhou, MD, PhD</p>
<p>Huashan Hospital, Fundan University</p>
<p> </p>

“We are faced with more than 500 kinds of brain disease which are not yet resolved such as mental illness, cerebrovascular disease, tumors and trauma. I have performed more than 10,000 surgeries, studied brain and cortex function. Neuroscience is critical to the future development of mankind.”

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Liangfu Zhou, MD, PhD

Huashan Hospital, Fundan University


Vice Chairman of Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (Shanghai)

Department of Neurosurgery

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Neurological diseases make up 11 percent of the world’s disease burden, according to the Society for Neuroscience, and that doesn’t even include mental health and addiction disorders.
  • Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide[1].
  • In the U.S., more than 1,000 neurological and neurodegenerative diseases affect the lives of nearly 100 million Americans[2].

These diseases and disorders have a direct and obvious effect on the people suffering from them but they also have a tremendous impact on our economy from missed work or reduced productivity

[1] European Brain Council

[2] The New York Academy of Sciences Magazine

In 2015, US federal agencies provided only about 44% of the total amount spent on basic research in the country. The remaining 56% needs to come from private parties and higher education institutions. While some private companies may be investing in specific applications within neuroscience, it is support for fundamental brain research that is most important because it can lead to huge breakthroughs and quantum steps forward. It was fundamental research, for example, that lead to breakthroughs in DNA, vaccines, solar power and MRIs to name just a few. Support from one company, philanthropist or government agency isn’t enough. We must work together to realize the unparalleled opportunity currently surrounding us.

Many major breakthroughs in modern times were made by people under the age of 40 (e.g., Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Stephen Hawking, etc.). We need to ensure there is a constant stream of fresh thinking and support for young scientists in the field so they can explore and advance their research.

When Tianqiao and Chrissy first announced that they were focusing their philanthropic efforts on brain science, they were flooded with questions about their choice. They decided to create a short video to address these questions and quickly realized that they had enough exciting content for at least one documentary. They decided to create something that would excite the public about recent advances and show just how close we are to a number of significant breakthroughs. They also wanted to create something could be used by scientists and researcher to make the case that more support is needed from government, philanthropists, businesses and the public if we are to unlock the secrets of the human brain.

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