President Obama on Tuesday will unveil a new research initiative to map the human brain, efforts scientists hope will lead to treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries.
The BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative will bring together public and private institutions to pursue research that the White House likened to the Human Genome Project.
The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation will be involved, along with the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md.
The White House touted the effort as evidence of its commitment to science, technology and better patient care.
"Significant breakthroughs in how we treat neurological and psychiatric disease will require a new generation of tools to enable researchers to record signals from brain cells in much greater numbers and at even faster speeds," the White House said in a memo.
"This cannot currently be achieved, but great promise for developing such technologies lies at the intersections of nanoscience, imaging, engineering, informatics, and other rapidly emerging fields of science and engineering."
Obama mentioned his desire to boost funding for brain research during his State of the Union address in February, a nod to rising concerns about Alzheimer's and sports-related brain injuries.
“Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar,” said Obama.
“Today our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s. They’re developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful,” he added. “Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation.”
This story was updated at 9:15 a.m.