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Obama explores BRAIN initiative @ $110 million
US President Barack Obama has proposed Rs 6,012 million (US$110 million) in the 2014 federal funding for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, which will look into how the brain is affected by certain health conditions, including autism, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, the BRAIN initiative will enlighten us on how the brain generates memories and programs human behavior. This will eventually help scientists to find cures and treatments for health conditions related to the brain, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
The BRAIN initiative has been modeled after the Human Genome Project that was run in 1990s and 2000s. Most of the funds for the BRAIN initiative will come from private companies, including the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The three companies in the private sector have pledged to give Rs 9,160 million (US$168 million) in total on an annual basis.
The BRAIN initiative, apart from enabling scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, will help to create more jobs in the country. Job opportunities will be available in a number of fields, including nanotechnology, diagnostic imaging and information storage and processing. According to Dr Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, it will take a few years for the BRAIN initiative to be fully established.
The National Institutes of Health has promised to give Rs 2,181 million (US$40 million) for BRAIN’s research facilities. The Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Defense Department will provide Rs 2,731 million (US$50 million) to develop facilities and infrastructure to understand the functions of the human brain and come up with breakthrough applications based on the research.
The government and related agencies are confident that scientists and technological experts will make discoveries and have breakthroughs in brain science. They will be able to understand the dynamic and intricate relationships between genes, cells, including brain cells, human behavior and diseases.
The University of Arizona is working closely with the BRAIN’s research team to further Obama’s initiative in solving the mysteries of the human brain. Understanding the intricacies of the human brain is not a task for scientists alone; people from all walks of life like engineering, social sciences and neuroscience will work closely to solve social and medical problems.
The BRAIN initiative is a great opportunity for great minds from top colleges, universities, research agencies, hospitals, and government bodies to come together to lead the world in yet another scientific breakthrough. The BRAIN initiative is more than just treating a disease. It is about giving people with chronic health problems an opportunity to enjoy and lead fulfilling lives.
The US has always been leading the world in technological and scientific breakthroughs. It was the first country to put a man on moon in the 20th century. Similarly, the BRAIN initiative may revolutionize the field of medicine by changing the lives of millions worldwide.
Obama once said, “If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.” With the BRAIN initiative, Obama will be one step closer to making his vision of creating jobs and building a thriving middle class a reality by taking a historic leap in research and development.