Georgia Tech Researchers Attend White House Event Announcing New BRAIN Initiative
President Barack Obama today announced a $100 million commitment to a new research initiative to map the activity of the human brain.
Posted Apr 02, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
President Barack Obama today announced a major new commitment to fund research to map the activity of the human brain. The goal of this grand challenge project is to develop new technologies that reveal in real time how brain cells and neural circuits interact to process information. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative will be launched with $100 million in the President's FY 2014 Budget.
Robert E. Guldberg, executive director for the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and mechanical engineering professor photographed at the White House.
Two researchers from Georgia Tech were invited by the White House to hear the announcement live. Robert E. Guldberg, executive director for the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and mechanical engineering professor along with Craig Forest, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, were present to hear President Obama’s pledge.
“To hear the President’s announcement was exciting," Guldberg said. “Neuroengineering is a major strength at Georgia Tech and along with our state-wide partners, we are well poised to make significant contributions to this new initiative."
The project is modeled after previous scientific grant challenges, such as the Human Genome Project which mapped the human genome. Francis Collins, director, National Institute of Health, called the potential advancements from this research the next “greatest scientific frontier.”
Unlocking the human brain has the potential to impact dozens of diseases including, Parkinson’s disease, eye diseases, mental health, traumatic brain injury, to name just a few. The NIH committed $40 million from its budget for the project and other government agencies, including the National Science Foundation as well as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency also made commitments. Additional funds will come from foundations and other non-profits.
“BRAIN represents a massive challenge across an interdisciplinary spectrum, for example, neuroengineering tool development, neuroscientific interpretation of the deluge of data to arise, and computing challenges in storage and processing,” said Forest who is currently conducting research in this area. “The magnitude of the undertaking by mankind is analogous to the Apollo Space Program or Manhattan Project in its breadth, depth, technical complexity and the need for large teams focused on ‘big science.’”
Forest recently collaborated with MIT to develop a way to automate the process of finding and recording information from individual neurons in the living brain. He was featured on CNN earlier this week for this work.