About the Knight Initiative

Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience Brain logo

The Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience envisions a world in which our brains remain fit and healthy as we age. We are harnessing the collective genius of science and breaking free of established dogma to extend the healthy lifespan of the human brain — building the foundations for a world in which the word “dementia” is forgotten. 

We are:

  • Pursuing bold, untried approaches to advance the science of brain aging and resilience
  • Sharing data, technologies, and know-how to drive progress across the field
  • Linking fundamental research, human neuroscience, and clinical applications to accelerate the science of brain resilience and our impact on patients
  • Achieving together what none of us can accomplish alone

The groundwork for the Initiative was laid in part by the Brain Rejuvenation Initiative, a Big Ideas in Neuroscience project led by Wyss-Coray and Aaron Gitler, the Stanford Medicine Basic Science Professor in the Department of Genetics, which brought together over a dozen leading researchers from across campus to pursue non-traditional approaches to reversing brain aging. 

Now, as part of its mission to stimulate bold new approaches to tackling the drivers of dementia, the Knight Initiative is bringing together experts in aging and dementia as well as new collaborators and ideas from outside the traditional neurodegeneration field through grant calls, seminars and symposia. The Initiative is also building a first-of-its kind atlas of the aging human brain in its in-house Brain Resilience Lab. This resource will enable researchers at Stanford and around the world to track human brain aging at an unprecedented level of detail and identify specific genetic, cellular and circuit-level factors that predict resilient aging or cognitive decline.

We welcome scientists of all stripes, from pathologists to data scientists and beyond, to join our growing, interdisciplinary community focused on the science of resilient brain aging.

Read more about the launch of the Knight Initiative

“This initiative will examine long-standing assumptions about the causes of neurodegeneration and advance our understanding of how to maintain brain resilience into old age, which is a cornerstone of quality of life.”

— Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne

“We are calling it the ‘Initiative for Brain Resilience’ because we want to focus on the positive outcomes this important research may yield—healthy aging and the possibility of helping all people live fuller, more vibrant lives late into life. We are excited to invest behind our belief that Stanford is the place to make this happen, and we feel privileged to have the opportunity to do so.”

— Penny Knight

"About one in ten thousand individuals reaches age 100 cognitively unscathed—seemingly resilient to the effects of time. The Phil and Penny Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience seeks to emulate this sidestepping of the aging process and raise the hope of reversing brain aging altogether to rejuvenate the mind.

— Tony Wyss-Coray, Knight Initiative Director