Minds Wide Open Wins Three New York Film Festivals TV & Film Awards

With the two Gold and one Bronze World Medals, the brain science documentary has won seven international awards and is shortlisted for a 2019 Brand Film Festival London Award.

Watch a free, 26-min version of the film at:

Menlo Park, CA. Minds Wide Open, a film commissioned by the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute, was recently awarded two 2019 New York Festivals TV & Film Awards Gold World Medals – one in the Science & Technology Documentary category and the other for best Branded Documentary Production. The film also won a Bronze World Medal in the Feature Documentary Film category at this year’s festival.

“We are honored to receive such esteemed recognition for Minds Wide Open from New York Festivals TV & Film Awards,” explained Tianqiao Chen, TCCI Co-Founder. “Making this film was important to us because it highlights just how close scientists studying the brain and mind are to making really meaningful breakthroughs that will help the world. We have made significant commitments to help advance the field, however more support is needed from other philanthropists, funders and members of the public.”

The 60-minute documentary, produced with Merchant Cantos, debuted on the Discovery Channel in September 2018 and shortly thereafter won three Gold Awards in the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards in the medical, educational and science & technology categories. In December 2018, the film won a Gold Standard Award in Hong Kong for Broadcast and Video from Public Affairs Asia and earlier this month, Minds Wide Open was short-listed for a Brand Film Festival London Award (May 2019).

“We commissioned Minds Wide Open as a way of advocating for the scientific community,” commented Chrissy Luo, TCC Co-Founder. “Our hope is that scientists and researchers can use the film to make the case for supporting early-career scientists and for taking an interdisciplinary approach to studying the human brain.”

The film features some of the world’s most innovative scientists and doctors from UC Berkeley, Caltech, Harvard, Fudan University-affiliated Huashan Hospital, Oxford (Jesus College) and Stanford. These experts present compelling advances in brain research, psychiatry, biology, robotics and artificial intelligence – and demonstrate how they can help people whose lives are affected by brain disease and disorders.

Monica Coenraad’s daughter Chelsea is one of these people. Chelsea has Rett Syndrome, a rare, devastating, genetic brain disorder which affects approximately 350,000 individuals worldwide. In the film, Monica describes how working with Rett experts like Michael Greenberg, PhD at Harvard Medical School gives her hope. “I don’t expect a 100 per cent, “like it never ever even happened”, cure for Chelsea, but I do think that there can be dramatic improvements. I think we're at the point now where we're going to have an opportunity to try, and that's really exciting.” 

As part of their billion-dollar commitment to brain science, the Chens plan to create new cornerstone partnerships with international institutions and programs that will support scientists working on the brain and mind. They will create other films to highlight advances in the science, the challenges faced by scientists and opportunities they see for making progress in the quest to unlock the mysteries of the human mind.

Minds Wide Open is available for sale or rent on Apple iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play. All proceeds are being donated to research and patient causes in the film such as The Rett Syndrome Trust.

A free, 26-minute version is on Tube here:

About Minds Wide Open

Husband and wife philanthropists, Tianqiao Chen and Chrissy Luo, commissioned Tim May, an award-winning producer who started his career at the BBC, to oversee production of the film with MerchantCantos, a leading production company in the United Kingdom. The original soundtrack, composed by Sion Trefor, is brought to life by acclaimed singer-songwriter Charlotte Church. More information about the film can be found at

About the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute:

The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (TCCI) was founded in 2016 by Tianqiao Chen and his wife Chrissy Luo, the founders of Shanda Group, who committed US $1 billion to help advance fundamental brain research. With a US $115 million donation, TCCI created the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech later that year. The couple has committed CNY 500 million to support TCCI’s work in China and in 2017, they created a strategic partnership with the Zhou Liangfu Foundation and Huashan Hospital in Shanghai. In 2018, Shanghai Mental Health Center joined the partnership. Follow TCCI news at, on LinkedIn, or via Twitter @ChenInstitute.

Jason Reindorp
Head of Global Communications
+1 (206) 225-1570


NOTE TO EDITOR: The following is a summary of the scientists, patients and topics covered in the film:






Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology; Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience Leadership Chair; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Director, Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience. 


The importance of fundamental brain research.


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

Stanford University

How optogenetics is helping scientists understand the role of specific neurons in the brain.


Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Stanford University

Next-gen transcranial magnetic stimulation, rapid-acting neuromodulation therapy for treatment-resistant depression


Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor in the School of Medicine.

Stanford University


Exciting new ways to understand and treat mental disorders. The importance of young scientists.


Director, Department of Neurosurgery; Vice Chairman of Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (Shanghai).

Huashan Hospital


The importance of neurosurgical and clinical treatment/research.


Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology

Chair, Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School and

Harvard University

Understanding the mechanisms that control the development of the brain. (Rett Syndrome patient story: Chelsea Coenraad, with her mother Monica)


Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology

University of California, Berkeley

The critical role of young scientists in the field.


Associate Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology


University of California, Berkeley

The study of the molecular mechanisms underlying itch, touch and pain. (Eczema patient story: Lisa Choy)


Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Stanford University


How studying living brain tissue, which has been derived in the lab from patients, can lead to better understanding of diseases such as autism and epilepsy. (Patient story: Violet Walters, with her mother Julie)


Principal and Professorial Research Fellow in Computer Science

Jesus College, University of Oxford

Next generation artificial Intelligence


President, Caltech

Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair

Professor of Physics


The impact of technology on the field and the urgency with which we need to act.


James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience; T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center Leadership Chair; Director, T&C Brain-Machine Interface Center



Brain-machine interface and mind control of robotics. (Paralysis patient story: Eric Sorto)