On 2 April 2013, President Obama launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The $100 million effort promises to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. The initiative aims to “help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury,” according to the White House.

The Obama Administration previously identified better understanding of the brain as a “grand challenge.”

The initiative will be supported by funding from three federal agencies starting in fiscal year 2014, which begins on 1 October 2013. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will provide approximately $40 million next year for the development of new tools, training opportunities, and other resources. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will invest $50 million in programs to understand the “dynamic functions of the brain” and create “breakthrough applications based on these insights.” The National Science Foundation will contribute about $20 million for interdisciplinary research.

Additionally, public-private partnerships will be formed. Contributions from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Kavli Foundation, and Salk Institute for Biological Studies total about $122 million a year.

The scientific goals for NIH’s part of the research will be defined by a new working group. The President also directed his Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to explore the ethical, legal, and societal implications of neuroscience research.


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