With a $100-million contribution, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen last week announced the foundation in Seattle of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The nonprofit institute, which has been in development for 2 years, will immediately be tackling an ambitious project, the Allen Brain Atlas, which seeks in 5 years or less to create a three-dimensional atlas of the mouse brain at the genetic level and to make it publicly available online. The hope is to help establish relationships between genes and behavior.

"It's really badly needed. This is what's needed at this exact point in time," said Society for Neuroscience President Huda Akil of the University of Michigan. "My sense is they've assembled a great team to do it."

"The goal is to be able to reference the expression pattern of every gene relative to other genes in the brain," said Joe Takahashi, a member of the institute's...

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