The White House said Sept. 30 that the National Institutes of Health is giving $46 million to the BRAIN Initiative, bringing the total funding from federal agencies to $110 million this year. Universities, companies and other groups have committed more than $270 million, the White House said.
Biological Map of Human Brain Gets Round of U.S. Funding
Some of the projects here have the ability to transform how we study the brain, and new technologies and industries will likely be spawned.
- Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health director
Collins said the NIH received 600 BRAIN-related grant applications this year and will use the $46 million to fund 58 of them. In one case, UC Berkeley will receive $7.2 million to improve brain imaging tools.
NIH awards UC Berkeley $7.2 million to advance brain initiative
Pres. Obama announced the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative in April 2013. The project, a massive undertaking by all accounts, "aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders."
There is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and the BRAIN Initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember.
- President Barack Obama
The administration hopes the BRAIN initiative will advance treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other forms of mental illness, and may even help in the development of artificial intelligence. The research could cost billions, so government support is crucial in carrying it out.
Obama launches research initiative to study human brain
Think of people who do ethics as the fellow in the parade who follows behind the elephant and cleans up. We'd like to at least walk alongside the elephant.
- Thomas Murray, professor emeritus of the Hastings Center
Scientists met in August 2013 to discuss the ethical implications of better understanding how the human brain works. A major takeaway was that scientists and ethicists do not communicate enough, particularly at the planning and starting phases of research.
Laying an Ethical Foundation for the BRAIN Initiative » blog.Bioethics.gov - The blog of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
As a point of comparison, the Human Genome Project cost $3.8 billion. It started in 1990 and completed its goal of mapping the human genome ahead of schedule, in April 2003. The project returned $800 billion into the economy by 2010, according to a government study.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing brain implants that may help restore "task-based motor skills" -- such as tying a shoe -- to people who have suffered brain damage, Bloomberg reports. The technology could treat some of the 280,000 troops who have sustained brain injuries since 2000.
Brain Implants Hold Promise Restoring Combat Memory Loss
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a brain implant aimed at restoring memory in wounded soldiers and sufferers of conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease, officials announced in late April. The four-year project is part of Obama's BRAIN initiative.