The New York Times reported this week that 2012 NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grantee Rafael Yuste, M.D., Ph.D. is among the “six leading scientists” who influenced the Obama administration’s decision to support a decade-long scientific project to build a comprehensive map of the brain’s activity. President Obama spoke of the significant positive economic and health impacts of investing in scientific research during his State of the Union Address last week and indicated support for this massive brain mapping initiative.
The initiative, if successful, could provide a lift for the economy. It is being compared to the Human Genome Project that was supported with about $300 million a year for a decade. Begun in 1990, its goal was to map the complete human genome and it was completed ahead of schedule in April 2003. Since that time it has spurred significant private industry growth—a federal government study estimates that it returned $800 billion by 2010—and significantly improved health care and outcomes.
Dr. Yuste, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, is corresponding author of “The Brain Activity Map Project and the Challenge of Functional Connectomics” (Neuron, June 21, 2012), which proposes tackling “one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time” by unlocking the yet-unsolved mysteries of the brain to understand more fully how it operates. The large-scale, international brain mapping effort the researchers propose could link all knowledge gained from previous piecemeal studies with new discoveries in order to fully record information about activity across all neural circuits of the brain. The “map” has the potential to explain many unknowns about the brain and provide information that may lead to prevention, improved treatments and potential cures for brain and behavior disorders.
The brain map project plan could be announced as early as March and is expected to be part of the president’s budget proposal next month.
Read The New York Times article
Read the paper in Neuron
Explore Dr. Yuste’s lab website for his National Public Radio interview and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC and The New Yorker stories about the brain map initiative