On Tuesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., met with researchers and representatives of foundations that raise funds for research into epilepsy, autism and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases to brief them on the National Institutes of Health’s BRAIN Initiative.
The meeting, which took place at the U’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), urged attendees, some of which are the top researchers in their field, to show how expenditures for the initiative will help save lives in the future.
The U of M was chosen to assist with the brain research because of its magnetic resource imaging (MRI) devices, which are some of the most powerful in the world. The machines were designed and built here at the U and are used to see inside the human body with greater resolution.
Kamil Ugurbil, Ph.D., director of CMRR, is one of 15 scientists from around the country that will share their recommendations for the initiative with the administration including goals, timetables, milestones and cost estimates.
“We push the envelope,” Ugurbil said. “One can look at the BRAIN Initiative as resting on some of the early successes of the Human Connectome Project. But the BRAIN Initiative is magnitudes greater in scope and will rely on Congress to fund research through normal channels going forward.”
The $100 million initiative, which was announced by President Obama last month, seeks to map the human brain, which is comprised of tens of billions of neurons.
As a result of the project, researchers hope they can find answers for the one in six people worldwide with a neurological disease. Neurological disorders cost the U.S. over more than $137 billion a year, and the cost is expected to top $1 trillion by 2050.
“This incredible work is going to reduce spending,” Klobuchar said of the BRAIN Initiative.