Barack Obama

The US president has awarded $100m of funding to researchers to intricately map the human brain in a bid to cure, and even prevent, brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

Barack Obama revealed the new research initiative, Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN), at the Whitehouse yesterday.

It will be funded with money from the president’s 2014 budget.

The programme is aimed at accelerating the application of new technologies to enable researchers to "produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought".

It is hoped these technologies will help explain how the brain records, processes, uses, stores and retrieves vast quantities of information, and shed light on the complex links between brain function and behaviour.

"There’s this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked. And the Brain initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action," President Obama said.

The initiative is outlined as part of the administration’s "Grand Challenges", which include tasks with ambitious but achievable goals that require the advancement of science and technology.

The effort is being launched in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation, all which will manage the $100m budget starting from the 2014 financial year.

The initiative will also include private and public partnerships and a high-level working group established by The National Institutes of Health that will define scientific goals, lay out a multi-year plan and maintain high ethical standards in relation to ethical, legal, and societal implications raised by the research initiative and other recent advances in neuroscience.

Image: President Barack Obama revealed his new initiative yesterday at the Whitehouse.