Yesterday President Obama announced that he has asked Congress to spend $100 million next year on a new project to map the human brain in hopes of finding cures for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and traumatic injuries.
This national initiative has local ties to the University of Minnesota. Kamil Ugurbil, Ph.D., director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), was at the White House for the announcement.
Ugurbil is one of 15 people on the working group that will develop the scientific strategy for the BRAIN Initiative, which stands for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.
“The BRAIN Initiative will invest additional funds in research to better understand how the brain functions,” said Ugurbil. “This is very important for making advances that will hopefully lead to cures for brain diseases.”
Obama believes that the BRAIN Initiative could create jobs and eventually lead to answers to ailments including Parkinson’s disease and autism and help to reverse the effects of stroke.
“As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away,” Obama said. “We can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears.”
Ugurbil believes that basic research projects can have a profound impact on future research.
“In the future, hopefully this will lead us to more targeted research with specific diseases,” said Ugurbil. “It’s exciting to see a president be so enthusiastic and optimistic about brain research and realize the need for continued investments in research.”
Ugurbil and CMRR are also involved with another brain research initiative called the Human Connectome Project. You can read more about the HCP here.
You can watch President Obama’s address here.
Ugurbil also appeared on KARE 11 and discussed his role with the BRAIN Initiative. You can watch the story here.