BRAIN Initiative

More than 100 million Americans live with the devastating effects of a debilitating neurological or psychiatric disease each year. In addition to producing severe hardship for millions of families, such suffering costs the U.S. economy at least $760 billion annually. The Society for Neuroscience (SfN), the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system, believes that the only way to foster the scientific breakthroughs needed to alleviate that suffering is with strong, consistent and reliable public funding of biomedical research through agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science...
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6 th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affecting 11% of the population 65 years and older. Without a treatment or prevention breakthrough, studies estimate there could be as many as 13.5 million Americans living with the disease by 2050 with associated health care costs rising above $1 trillion. However, the research has progressed, as scientists unlock and unveil the secrets of the brain. Recently, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that measures of the tau protein are better markers of the cognitive decline of Alzheimer's than measures of amyloid beta...
Candidates running for national office never miss an opportunity to share their solutions on the many problems facing our country with voters. From terrorism to transportation to education, the presidential candidates clamor for attention on hot button issues of the day. Yet they are not outlining their proposed solutions for healing what literally ails Americans - Alzheimer's disease, cancer, mental illnesses, and many other health threats. Despite the prevalence of disease and its impact to our health, economy and national security, candidates seem to be giving this issue a pass. Only 14% of Americans say they are very well-informed of the positions of current candidates for President...
Dear Research Advocate, Although we are 452 days away from Election Day 2016, with all the media attention right now one would be forgiven for thinking it is coming up next month! The overwhelming majority of scientists surveyed by the Science Advisory Board in advance of last Thursday’s debate said that science and research should be a topic of discussion. But as predicted by the same 90+ percent majority, science wasn’t even mentioned, underscoring the importance for scientists, patients, and all who care about research to engage candidates before the next debate. If you -- a potential voter -- don’t let candidates know you care about medical progress and science writ large, they will...
Dear Research Advocate: According to our new national public opinion poll on clinical trials and related topics, most Americans are willing to share their personal health data to advance research, and 72% would be willing to participate in a clinical trial if recommended by their doctor. This complements what we know from other polling, i.e. that Americans want research to proceed at a pace of scientific opportunity. Yet we continue to lose ground in the gridlocked political environment, which, by its inaction, is dashing the hopes of patients and families anxious for new therapies and cures. What’€™s wrong with this picture? It isn’€™t as though research hasn’€™t yielded both societal and...
Dear Research Advocate: I invite you to join me in speaking out during the Memorial Day congressional recess (May 27-31) as part of a social media campaign using the hashtag #curesnotcuts. Our goal is to continue to position research and innovation to improve health where it belongs: as a fundamental national priority that Americans can count on because their elected representatives rank it so highly. In our social media campaign, each day of the recess has a specific theme that can be customized with your information and patient/researcher stories. We have made it easy to get involved: click here to see sample social media messages, a list of selected congressional offices and their...
Dear Research Advocate, On Tuesday, the president announced a new $100 million brain research initiative (BRAIN) that will involve NSF, NIH and DARPA and include support from a number of independent research institutes and private foundations. The fact that the White House has announced this ’€œmoonshot’€ is an important sign that research is securing its rightful role as a top national priority, which is critical to our collective goal of eliminating sequestration and aligning research funding with scientific opportunity. The president will include BRAIN in his FY14 budget, which will be released April 10. In CQ , House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) expressed support for the BRAIN...
President Barack Obama unveiled the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative on Tuesday. Described in a White House press release as one of the administration’€™s ’€œGrand Challenges,’€ the goal of the initiative is to bring private and public sector research together to accelerate the development and application of technology and research into the function of complex neural networks. President Obama laid the ground work for today’€™s announcement during his State of the Union address in January, calling for an increased investment in research to achieve ’€œa level of research and development not seen since the height of the space race.’€ The...

Sidebar Quote

Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco