Department of Veterans Affairs awards $6.2 million to VA Providence for Neurological Research to advance Veterans Health


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved a research award of $6.2 million, effective June 1, 2023, for the VA Providence Healthcare System to support a full range of translational research, from understanding basic mechanisms of nervous system function to developing and implementing novel treatments for complex neurological and mental health disorders.

The funding supports the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Service (RR&D) Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology (CfNN) located at VA Providence Healthcare System. The funding represents the 2nd renewal for CfNN, which was first funded in 2012.

“We are extremely fortunate to have world class research conducted by extremely talented researchers and scientists here at the VA Providence Healthcare System,” says Lawrence Connell, VA Providence Healthcare System Director, “our research will ultimately improve the lives of our Veterans and the general public at large,” he said.

CfNN is one of 12 centers funded by VA RR&D dedicated to advancing Veterans Health through neuroengineering and clinical neurorehabilitation research.  CfNN’s vision is to improve the physical function, mental health and functioning, and quality of life of Veterans. Since 2012, CfNN has facilitated deeply collaborative research between its scientists, VA Providence and other RR&D Center researchers, and CfNN’s university and hospital affiliates.

“The multidisciplinary cutting-edge research done by investigators at CfNN has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of our Veterans suffering from neurological and mental health disorders and disabilities. With this renewal, our research team at VA Providence will continue in their endeavor to bring novel device-based therapies from research labs to the clinic,” said Gaurav Choudhary MD, Associate Chief of Staff (Research) at VA Providence. 

CfNN is led by Leigh R. Hochberg, MD, PhD who is a neurologist at the VA, the L. Herbert Ballou University Professor of Engineering and Professor of Brain Science at Brown University, and director of the Center for Neurotechnology and Neurorecovery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was the recipient of the 2022 VA Paul B. Magnuson Award, the highest research award in VA RR&D.  “Restoring communication, mobility, mental health, and limb and sensory function are key priorities for Veterans Health. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue our research to develop new neurotechnology-based therapies to improve the health and function of Veterans with neurologic or mental health disorders, and to help recruit and advance the next generation of neurorestoration researchers,” said Dr. Hochberg. Benjamin Greenberg, MD, PhD, CfNN’s Associate Director and Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown, said, “This is an incredibly exciting time for making real differences in brain and behavioral disorders for Veterans. We are getting better at understanding how functioning in circuits in the brain give rise to mental health or neurologic disorders. And advances in technology promise to allow us to engage those brain pathways to relieve suffering and improve the lives of Veterans with these illnesses. We’re honored to be able to continue CfNN’s work to support our nation’s Veterans and others with neurologic disease or injury.”

Patricia A. Dorn, PhD, VA’s Director of RR&D, said, “It is vital to continue to support the research and mentoring conducted by the outstanding CfNN team of investigators as they make groundbreaking discoveries to improve the lives of Veterans with neurological and mental health conditions. Through the Leadership of Drs. Hochberg and Greenberg, CfNN successfully carries out its mission for Veterans to develop, test, and implement new therapies and technologies to restore function in disorders of the nervous system that impair movement, emotion, or cognition.”

For more information about the center, please see