Yesterday, the Obama administration announced plans for a landmark initiative dedicated to transforming our understanding of the human brain. Referred to as the BRAIN initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnology), the overarching goal of this effort is to discover “new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders”, such as autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. Yesterday’s launch was marked by an initial White House pledge of $100 million in 2014 funding for research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). This announcement comes as a breath of fresh air in a time when neuroscientific and technological breakthroughs are increasingly being tempered by budgetary realities and funding cuts.
The Child Mind Institute has championed the acceleration of scientific discovery through innovation and collaboration, and applauds the BRAIN initiative. It is our hope that investigators funded through the initiative will embrace the emerging open science philosophy in the neuroscience community, and freely share novel data and methodologies with the broader scientific community. For its part, the CMI will continue its efforts to generate and share large-scale brain imaging datasets through CMI-sponsored efforts such as the 1000 Functional Connectomes Project and International Neuroimaging Data-sharing Initiative (INDI), as well as the upcoming CMI Biobank. It is our hope that data generated through these efforts will help to facilitate and accelerate the efforts of BRAIN initiative investigators, as they speed towards the delivery of biologically-based solutions to mental illness.