Obama to Back Brain Mapping

A new project to map the activity of the human brain could receive more than $3 billion dollars in federal funds in President Obama’s upcoming budget proposal.

By | February 18, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, THEBRAINA large-scale effort to understand the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity is set to launch with the help of billions of dollars in federal funds. According to The New York Times, President Obama will outline the plan to fund the decade-long Brain Activity Map project in his federal budget proposal, which the White House is slated to release next month. Scientists involved in planning the project hope that it will have the same catalytic effect on brain research as the $3.8 billion Human Genome Project had on genetics, and that it will spur the development of new therapies for various brain diseases.

The White House Office for Science and Technology Policy did not comment on the speculation, but several scientists and institutions, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), confirmed their involvement in planning the project. Indeed, Obama may have been teasing the new project during his recent State of the Union address, when he cited brain research as the kind of science in which government should invest. And NIH director Francis Collins may have accidently confirmed as much immediately after the speech when he tweeted, “Obama mentions #NIH Brain Activity Map in #SOTU.”

Harvard molecular biologist George Church, who is part of the planning team, told the Times that the scientists behind the initiative hope to get federal backing to the tune of more than $3 billion over ten years. Church also pointed out that the initiative, if successful, could provide an economic boost, echoing Obama’s message that every dollar invested into human genome mapping returned $140 to the US economy.

The project will take advantage of emerging technologies that allow scientists to simultaneously record the electrical activity of large groups of individual neurons. In June last year, a group of researchers that included Church proposed pursuing several new approaches, such as the creation of molecule-size machines to noninvasively measure and record the activity of brain cells.

The Brain Activity Map project will also receive assistance from private foundations and companies like Google and Microsoft, who were present at a January 17 planning meeting at the California Institute of Technology, according to the Times. Attendees of that meeting determined that existing computing facilities are capable of capturing and analyzing the vast amounts of data that the project would generate.


Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: mlerman


Posts: 53

February 19, 2013


So, the decision is reached to abandon the cancer problem; solving the cancer problem will result in a dramatic increase of the human population, and would be followed by hunger, riots and wars. So, people should continue dying of cancer, it's in the interest of the human race. Michael Lerman, M.D., Ph.D.   

Popular Now

  1. Inside a Lab Mouse’s High-Fat Diet
  2. Battling the Bulge
    Bio Business Battling the Bulge

    Weight-loss drugs that target newly characterized obesity-related receptors and pathways could finally offer truly effective fat control.

  3. How Gastric Bypass Can Kill Sugar Cravings
  4. Birth of the Skin Microbiome
    Daily News Birth of the Skin Microbiome

    The immune system tolerates the colonization of commensal bacteria on the skin with the aid of regulatory T cells during the first few weeks of life, a mouse study shows.

Life Technologies