This morning, I woke up to multiple texts and three emails about the new BRAIN initiative. This either means that a) I have too many friends that work in government or b) that I tend to be the only neuroscientist my friends know. Either way, it’s an exciting day!
President Obama announced the BRAIN initiative, a new plan to support neuroscience research and growth in the US. “The BRAIN initiative will [give] scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action.” The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative is an aggressive plan to support and fund innovative techniques that attempt to map and characterize the human brain. The White House released a very useful fact sheet on the key components of the plan, which I highly recommend reading. They also held a Q&A session which was really interesting.
Here are the highlights:
- $100 million dollars of the 2014 fiscal year budget will be directed towards neuroscientific research!!!
- National Institutes of Health will create the Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. NIH’s $40 million will be put towards a multidisciplinary approach to fund research into new neuroscientific techniques, training methods, and research areas.
- DARPA will get $50 million to focus research in dynamic neural modeling and “synaptic activities”. This is incredibly vague, but I haven’t yet seen or heard of any specific limitations on their research scope. It is nice to see defense spending geared towards research projects with practical applications.
- NSF will use its $20 million to support research areas that span multiple disciplines- engineering, biology, physical sciences, etc.
The NIH working group, which will work on defining a more specific scientific plan for upcoming years, will be co-chaired by Dr. Cori Bargmann (The Rockefeller University) and Dr. William Newsome (Stanford University). Bill Newsome is a collaborator of ours here at Stanford and it’s really exciting to see him receive such an amazing opportunity to impact the future direction of neuroscience (outside of the already pioneering work he has already done in the field.)