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BRAIN Initiative Builds on Work of the Allen Institute for Brain Science

April 2, 2013 | Download PDF

Since its inception ten years ago the Allen Institute for Brain Science has been performing big science at the leading edge of brain research. The Allen Institute is pleased to see the White House expand on these efforts with the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative announced by President Obama today. Deciphering the complexity of the human brain is a tremendous challenge that requires a collective effort. We are delighted to have the support and collaboration of both public and private enterprises in tackling this enormous endeavor and, ultimately, discovering new and more effective ways to treat brain-related diseases and disorders.

In March 2012, the Allen Institute for Brain Science embarked upon a ten-year project to understand the neural code: how brain activity leads to perception, decision making, and ultimately action. The Allen Institute's expansion, with a $300M investment from philanthropist Paul G. Allen in the first four years, was based on the recent unprecedented advances in technologies to record the brain's activity and map its interconnections. The BRAIN Initiative promises to develop next-generation technologies for studying brain activity, so that projects such as the Allen Institute's initiatives and others can proceed at an accelerated pace.

For the past decade, the Allen Institute for Brain Science has been undertaking large-scale brain research projects and sharing the resulting data and tools openly and publicly for the purpose of advancing the field. The public resources created by the Allen Institute have become essential tools for many thousands of scientists around the world. This kind of work has opened the door and laid the foundation for projects like the BRAIN Initiative.

The Allen Institute has been at the forefront of the BRAIN Initiative from the beginning. The BRAIN Initiative originated from a scientific workshop, Opportunities at the Interface of Neuroscience and Nanoscience, which the Allen Institute convened and co-organized, along with the Kavli Foundation and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The meeting also included some of the Allen Institute's top scientists, who continued to be involved in the planning of the initiative.

The Allen Institute's major research initiatives, launched early last year, and the proposed BRAIN Initiative are complementary to one another and hold promise for helping bring on new discoveries about the human brain and much needed advances in medicine.

About the BRAIN Initiative

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. These technologies will open new doors to explore how the brain records, processes, uses, stores, and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behavior.

This initiative, announced by President Obama today, is one of the Administration's "Grand Challenges" – ambitious but achievable goals that require advances in science and technology.