As expected, President Obama has officially announced a bold new brain-mapping project that will attempt to do for the human brain what the Human Genome Project did for human genetics.
The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) project “promises to accelerate the invention of new technologies that will help researchers produce real-time pictures of complex neural circuits and visualize the rapid-fire interactions of cells that occur at the speed of thought.”
In a post on the White House blog, Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins and Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Dr. Arati Prabhakar say the project will help scientists better understand the human mind and that could lead to breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of many brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, and epilepsy.
The President calls the project ambitious, but achievable.
BRAIN will be supported by $100 million in governmental funding (per Obama’s 2014 Fiscal Year budget) – coming from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). It’s also getting a good chunk of private funding, from sources like the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Kavli Foundation, who have pledged an annual spend of $60 million, $30 million, and $4 million, respectively.
“Like sequencing the human genome, President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative provides an opportunity to rally innovative capacities in every corner of the Nation and leverage the diverse skills, tools, and resources from a variety of sectors to have a lasting positive impact on lives, the economy, and our national security,” says the White House.