Today Dr. Timothy Coetzee, the Society’s Chief Research Officer, was among a distinguished group of leaders in the field of brain research and patient advocacy organizations invited to the White House to be a part of President Obama’s unveiling of the historic initiative called Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, “BRAIN” for short. The initiative has been established to map the human brain in order to understand for the first time how millions of brain cells interact. The project will include both government and private institutions and will enlist three government agencies: the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation. For more details visit: http://www.nih.gov/science/brain/index.htm
Starting with a $100 million investment of federal funding in 2014, the new research initiative will establish and refine new technologies to understand the human brain. The Obama administration has designated this initiative as the grand challenge of the 21st century, much as the Human Genome Project was named a grand challenge of the 1990s.
“We are pleased to join forces with scientific leaders and other patient advocacy organizations to celebrate the launch of this inspiring initiative,” observes Dr. Coetzee. “Knowing how brain cells interact and creating maps of these interactions will accelerate our efforts to find the best treatments to restore lost connections in MS and other brain diseases.”
The BRAIN initiative grew out of an interdisciplinary meeting of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in London in September 2011 organized by the Kavli Foundation to advance the idea that the next big scientific discoveries will come from interdisciplinary research.
Brain disease affects 1 in 6 Americans, or 50 million people in the US. The annual economic impact of brain disease in the US is $400 billion with MS contributing some $29 billion to this total.
The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS. To fulfill this mission, the Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, collaborates with MS organizations around the world, and provides programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives. In 2012 alone, the Society invested $43 million to support 350 research projects around the world while providing programs and services that assisted more than one million people.