President Obama announces BRAIN Initiative

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President Barack Obama made his debut as scientist in chief Tuesday as he announced that about $100 million will go to fund an initiative that will be key to unlocking the mysteries of the human brain.

Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, who coined the nickname, took the podium in the East Room of the White House to announce both the president and the NIH initiative, BRAIN, short for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.

Before his introductions, Collins alluded to the initiative saying, "Asking the people in this room to delay innovation would be like asking the cherry trees in Washington to delay blooming."

A release from the White House elaborated on the program, "The BRAIN Initiative will accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought."

Before the East Room gathering, the president said, "We do innovation better than anyone else," as he referred to the program as "the next great American project."

During his State of the Union Address this year, Obama said, "If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas... Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy... Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s..."

Speaking about the potential for the BRAIN Initiative, the president touched on the topic of prosthetics and asked people to imagine what could happen if, "the wiring from the brain to that [prosthetic] limb was direct."

He said that through this program we have the chance "to improve the lives of not just millions, but billions of people across the globe," from the research done just in the BRAIN initiative.

The president said that he has consulted with his bioethics advisers to ensure that all research is being done in a responsible manner.

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What kind of research would you like to see come out of the BRAIN Initiative? Let us know in the comments below!

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