Bold and Ambitious: BRAIN Initiative Interim Report Released

On April 2, 2013, President Obama launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative to revolutionize our understanding of the brain in the hopes of uncovering new ways to treat, prevent, and cure disorders like Parkinson’s. The Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) applauded this initiative and has been closely monitoring the planning and implementation.

After holding a number of public meetings over the span of four months, on September 16, 2013, the Advisory Committee to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director presented an interim report of the BRAIN Working Group. The working group was charged with creating the interim report to identify high priority research areas that should be considered for the BRAIN Initiative in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. The following research areas were identified as high priority for FY 2014: 

  • Generate a census of cell types;
  • Create structural maps of the brain;
  • Develop new large-scale network recording capabilities;
  • Develop a suite of tools for circuit manipulation;
  • Link neuronal activity to behavior;
  • Integrate theory, modeling, statistics, and computation with experimentation;
  • Delineate mechanisms underlying human imaging technologies;
  • Create mechanisms to enable collection of human data; and
  • Disseminate knowledge and training.

The NIH has chosen not to be disease specific in setting research priorities, and instead has decided to focus on bold and ambitious goals that will have the broadest impact on neuroscience. On a September 16 conference call discussing the interim report, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, reiterated the fact that the BRAIN Initiative is just a small portion of the approximately $5 billion in neuroscience research that the NIH funds every year, and focusing on understanding the basic functions of the brain will allow for advances is many neurological diseases.

The final report of the working group is scheduled to be released in June 2014. PAN is looking forward to the group’s recommendations on collaboration opportunities, especially with patients and patient advocacy organizations. While the working group has taken public comments in the drafting of the report, PAN will be advocating for a more formal plan for collaboration and input.

Additional Resources:

BRAIN Interim Report Executive Summary
BRAIN Interim Report Presentation
BRAIN Initiative website


Date originally posted: September 20, 2013.