Foundation Represented at President Obama’s Announcement of “BRAIN” Initiative Today

President Barack Obama announcing the new Brain Initiative at the White House
President Barack Obama

Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President & CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, joined members of the Obama administration and prominent figures in government and neuroscience at the White House for the announcement of the President’s “Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies” (or “BRAIN”) Initiative this morning. “As the largest private funder of mental health research since 1987, the Foundation is known for its funding of innovative, 'outside the box' research ideas,” said Dr. Borenstein. “This new public-private partnership initiative offers great opportunity to accelerate the support of research that can lead to breakthroughs for the treatment and ultimately prevention and cure of mental illness.”

The major announcement—being heralded by many as equal in importance to the historic Apollo mission and the Human Genome Project—called for public and private collaboration between governmental agencies, industry and philanthropies to support a $100 million, broad-based research program to unlock the mysteries of the brain and effectively treat its illnesses. This investment in innovative, biomedical research will not only improve the lives of billions of people but will also grow our economy, asserted President Obama.

The briefing began just before 10:00 a.m. in the White House East Room with an introduction by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., who characterized the proposed investment as one of our “wisest choices as a Nation” for its potential to “save lives, improve health and grow the economy.”

Dr. Collins introduced President Obama as “Scientist-in-Chief.” The President said that he gathered the “smartest people in the country” to talk about the challenging issues of our day—growing the economy, creating jobs and investing in “one of our core strengths,” American innovation. As “dreamers” and “risk takers,” he said, Americans “do innovation better than anyone else.” He spoke of the return on investment when America invests in the best ideas that often result in unforeseen advances and breakthroughs—from the personal computer to the internet to CT scans. He noted that the Human Genome Project returned $140 for each $1 invested.

The President explained that we have identified “galaxies light years away,” but this new project will explore “the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears,” where almost 100 billion neurons make trillions of connections, holding enormous mysteries waiting to be unlocked. He spoke of the “transformative” potential for the initiative to support economic growth and medical breakthroughs. We will learn more about how to help our veterans returning with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury, as well as those living with epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, stroke and other brain and behavior disorders.

Read the New York Times story

Read the CNN story

Watch the President's Speech:

Article comments

Excellent video demonstrating our president supporting work that will benefit our MH population.

Like so many, I've lost a loved-one to mental illness. My mother passed away from Alzheimer's Disease in 2004. Before she'd been diagnosed with the mysterious illness, I'd had little experience at being near a person with advanced dementia. It was a sorrowful eye-opener to witness my beautiful mother transform into a helpless child, then an old woman who slowly withered away. This announcement encourages us all to believe we're nearer the day our mentally challenged friends and loved-ones can perhaps be healed, or the horrendous illnesses that are today still vast and devastating may come to be understood and prevented. What a celebration that would be, indeed! Thank You to all involved in caring for those with mental illness, to all who diligently research with hope for cures to mental illness, and to all who take time to offer donations, however generously, toward such a global cause.

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