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Obama's New Investment in Brain Mapping: Will It Be Open Access?

By   /  April 15, 2013  /  No Comments

Jonathan Gray of the OKF reports, “On Tuesday President Obama unveiled a new $100 million research initiative to map the human brain.”

Jonathan Gray of the OKF reports, “On Tuesday President Obama unveiled a new $100 million research initiative to map the human brain. The BRAIN (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative will ‘accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will 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.’ As well as trying to vastly improve scientific understanding of ‘the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears’, it is hoped that this research will enable new forms of prevention and treatment for conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism and epilepsy.”

Gray continues, “In his speech, Obama made several comparisons between the BRAIN initiative and the Human Genome Project, an initiative which saw unprecedented international collaboration and data sharing between research centres around the world to map the tens of thousands of genes of the human genome. Dr Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project and is the current Director of the National Institutes of Health, spoke alongside Obama at the announcement. While there has been no explicit announcement about whether or not the BRAIN initiative will be open access (and while there are obviously difficult ethical and privacy issues in this field), we hope that it will follow in the footsteps of the Human Genome Project’s pioneering approach to data sharing – which saw data being placed into the public domain by default, without restrictions on its use and redistribution. This helped to minimise duplication, maximise synergy and ultimately to accelerate the pace of research in this area.”

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Image: Courtesy Flickr/ burton-bradford

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