The BRAIN Initiative
There may come a time when you will remember the day that The BRAIN Initiative was first announced. Yesterday, April 2, 2013, President Obama presented The BRAIN Initiative. BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies. As the National Institutes for Health (NIH) website offers:
“With nearly 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections, the human brain remains one of the greatest mysteries in science and one of the greatest challenges in medicine. Neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, and traumatic brain injury, exact a tremendous toll on individuals, families, and society. Despite the many advances in neuroscience in recent years, the underlying causes of most of neurological and psychiatric conditions remain largely unknown, due to the vast complexity of the human brain. If we are ever to develop effective ways of helping people suffering from these devastating conditions, researchers will first need a more complete arsenal of tools and information for understanding how the brain functions both in health and disease.”
|Click on the image to enlarge!|
The BRAIN Initiative may seem daunting and perhaps even overly ambitious; however, it was only 23 years ago that our government sought to undertake another task, the Human Genome Project. This was an international effort that spanned from 1990 through 2003. Interestingly enough, when this project was undertaken it was thought that scientists would need 15 years to complete the task. But we thought big and we did it in 13 years!
The image to the left is provided by Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. science.energy.gov/ber/. Human Chromosomes from “Human Genome Landmarks: Selected Genes, Traits, and Disorders” Poster, 2002. (Gene Gateway) Prepared by the Biological and Environmental Research Information System, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, genomicscience.energy.gov/ and genomics.energy.gov/.
A public-private project to study the human brain
For our readers’ convenience, we are providing many related news articles below. This project is very different than the Human Genome Project, insofar that the Human Genome Project had one objective and the BRAIN project has more general goals that will develop overtime. According to MSNBC News:
“An outside working group, led by researchers from Stanford and Rockefeller Universities, will devise the plans, budgets and schedules needed to translate that broad agenda into concrete action.”
And as President Obama offered in his announcement: “There is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked.” Mysteries such as those surrounding autism, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, depression, schizophrenia, addiction, strokes, and post traumatic stress disorder.
CBS Evening News reports on the BRAIN Initiative
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.