The BCNI grew from a MRC Centre award in 2002 – the Behavioural & Clinical Neurosciences Centre (BCNC) - and the subsequent invitation to bid for further shared funding from the Wellcome Trust and MRC in 2004. The BCNI was established in Cambridge in 2005 with a five-year MRC–Wellcome Trust award (£4.8m) providing core infrastructural funding for the Institute. Part of this joint award financed the purchase of a state-of-the-art 3T magnetic resonance imaging machine, the most powerful available for clinical use, able to pinpoint functioning areas of the brain within millimetres. This MRC–Wellcome Trust joint funding was renewed for a further 5 year period in 2010 for £3.5m, and the Wellcome Trust’s contribution was approximately £1.5m.
The core infrastructural funding of the BCNI has added, and continues to add, value to a wide range of projects and builds new state-of-the-art capabilities, such as advanced brain imaging techniques for animals and humans, that are critical to maintain scientific momentum. Furthermore the BCNI funding provides specialised core staff support (e.g. technicians, physicists, a programmer, a clinician, and a research manager), and resources (e.g. marmoset breeding colony, computer server and neuroimaging to support doctoral training projects and small-scale pilot projects that would form the basis of peer-reviewed grant applications) that are not readily available on individual research grants. The BCNI also supports graduate training in translational neuroscience for students with clinical and preclinical backgrounds, thus meeting the growing demand for a next generation of well-trained young translational neuroscientists.