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Welcoming the BRAIN Initiative

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Introducing the President at the BRAIN Initiative event in the East Room of the White House (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Introducing the President at the BRAIN Initiative event in the East Room of the White House
(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

What an exciting day for science and innovation in the United States! I was thrilled to be present at the White House this morning, as President Barack Obama announced a pioneering project to explore the complex workings of the human brain: the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. And I’m proud to report that NIH-supported scientists will be among those at the forefront of this ambitious endeavor.

I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage each of you—whether you’re a researcher, health professional, patient, or young person interested in science—to embrace the BRAIN Initiative. Not only will this landmark effort continue our nation’s strong tradition of scientific innovation, it will advance NIH’s mission of turning scientific discoveries into better health for all.

For more details on the BRAIN Initiative, check out what DARPA chief Arati Prabhakar and I have to say on blog.


  • Ronald Valmonte CRT, R.T. (R) ARRT says:

    I am a health proffestional in the field of radiology and I embrace the BRAIN initiative because of my own experience in the work that I’ve done related to brain studies in neuroradiology. I am very excited for the project and I am with President Obama all the way as he stated today, “So I’m very excited about this project. Francis, let’s get to work. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”
    Thank you, Ron

  • Bob Hughes says:

    The Brain Initiative is refreshing news. Scientific literature often confuses the reader by speaking as though the Brain and Mind are synonymous. I hope upcoming papers with this new research will limit their reports to the Brain.

  • Andrew Neff says:

    Francis, whats the point of starting new initiative like this when you can’t follow thru with prior initiative like the human embryonic stem cell redefinition? …

    • Moderator says:

      Mr. Neff is referring to a change NIH has proposed to the definition of “human embryonic stem cells” in the NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research. That proposal is under consideration at NIH. As a procedural matter, during the process of considering a change to agency policy, an agency is not at liberty to comment on the details of the review or the agency’s current thinking. Any changes to the Guidelines will be posted on the NIH website at

  • Marsha says:

    I am deeply grateful to have learned of this and that it is a reality (long overdue). I am a non-professional (in this field) student of neuroscience; my study is necessitated by my having had to educate almost every medical professional I encounter in the functions of even the most major neurotransmitter receptors and their ligands, as well as how this information is relevant to me and my circumstances.

    I inherited severe major depressive disorder from both sides of my family and had my first psychiatric symptom before I started grade school (psychosomatic disorders). I have gone through life seeking “the right antidepressant,” the right substance of any kind, to correct the neurobiological dysfunction in my brain.

    Having been told for 57 years that I should, in some way, be able to control my depression, anxiety, pill and/or substance and/or food and/or nicotine etc. use by virtue of will power or self control, I rejoice for all of us that today a step was taken that will elucidate the biological and neurological bases for emotional disorders of all kinds. So many people have suffered, and many have died, in their struggles to find a way through a life with too much pain and too little joy. Thank God above that this help is forthcoming.

    • sasirekha umapathi says:

      This is Sasirekha, studying doctor of pharmacy. I’m very interested to be a part of the brain initiative to clarify and find out more about the brain … [I hope it] becomes a red carpet for interactions of new ideas from youngsters and great studies of experienced professors in neuroscience.

  • Maryjane Lesnick Mertz says:

    This news is so uplifting for those of us in the field of Behavioral Health.

    Maryjane, LCSW

  • Mark says:

    Dear Marsha,
    My heart goes out to you …

  • Parminder S Rana says:

    This is great beginning. Taking direction from the comments by readers, to alleviate the suffering amongst mankind, let us take this initiative from 2 Dimensional to 3 Dimensional study. All the medical studies including neurosciences have evolved on two dimensions:

    1.Anatomical, cellular and genetic Studies mostly in cadavers.
    2.Imaging, neuro-chemical, molecular and nuclear studies in live subjects.

    The third dimension is the study about consciousness level and its evolution based on awareness and experience.

    This endeavor will be historic.

  • Aletha Patton says:

    Unfortunate that so many have suffered, yet so GRATEFUL for this initiative.

    Aletha Patton, LMSW

  • Marie-Terese Henderson says:

    Thank you very much from a person living in the traumatic brain injury world for 22 years now. Traumatic brain injury occurs every 23 seconds–it is twice as likely to happen to a male than a female. For you to understand, think of your brain like an egg and have you ever been able to unscramble an egg? No.

    That is why the only cure is prevention. So please protect your brain, because I still have my double vision, my constant headaches, my CRS problem (Can’t Remember Stuff). I am lucky that my sleep-wake function is okay and that I do not have a seizure disorder.

    Plus, it is all on the caregivers because without them we would be lost.

    Thank You Again

  • margarita mondragon says:

    I would like more information about the BRAIN Initiative. I’m very interested in the brain. Thank You!

  • sahab says:

    The BRAIN project is certainly laudatory and timely, if not overdue. However, there is a problem with the stated focus on N (Neurotechnologies). Focusing on the technologies before developing a concept(s) is like putting the cart before the horse. Technologies can be developed every which way. Developing concepts based on technologies is problematic, and often futile and waste of funds (as is often the case in today’s science “let’s do it because the technology is there).

    It reminds me of the early days of human genome sequencing when some of the eminent scientists wanted to develop the techniques of sequencing and computing before starting the project. The reasons were it would be too expensive to sequence using the current technology (~ one dollar/nucleotide) which will amount to about 3 billion dollars. Then there was no computer (Craig computer was cited as an example) which will allow the extensive data analysis. Thank god that the advice did not prevail. The entire sequencing cost was far less (~ $100 million), and both the sequencing and computing technology developed rapidly in parallel. Yes, if we waited till now, the cost would have been 10 times less (~ $10 million). Ten years from now, it would be probably only a $1 million). But then the most valuable time (~ 30 years in this hypothetical scenario) would have had elapsed.

    The point I am trying to make, again, is that develop the concept first, technologies will follow, not the other way around.

  • Evie Malaia says:

    The fact sheet states “input will be sought broadly from the scientific community” in the planning process. Who and how can contribute white papers? Will there be groups that interested neuroscientists can participate in?

  • Sandra Adelstein says:

    Dr. Collins:
    I have written to you a number of times to request funding for Multiple Sclerosis research and I just wanted to say that I am excited about the Brain Initiative. I hope that there will be studies revealing more about M.S. I also hope that it has the potential to yield a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. I also read about a study conducted at Yale University The conclusion was that salt may be a trigger of M.S. and other autoimmune diseases. I was surprised and gratified to read that the study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

    Thank you so much.

    Sandra Adelstein

  • Ken Shapiro says:

    I am a brain injury (stroke) survivor (from 2010) and am wondering whether the BRAIN Initiative might provide opportunities for comparative brain scans which focus on healing. I have had many post-stroke (as well as pre-stroke) CTs and EEGs looking at damage caused by my aneurysm and stroke, so I would personally be interested in volunteering with an eye toward neuroplasticity.

  • Emanuel Davis says:

    What is the best way to keep up with the project BRAIN Initiative. Is there a RSS Feed that I can subscribe to?

  • Roger Gietzen MD says:

    As a neurologist, I can see functional brain imaging has broad implications. It likely underlies behavioral/thought/mood disorders as well as countless neurologic disorders.

    However the most fascinating and possibly biggest implication is in chronic pain disorders! From low back pain to fibromyalgia, functional imaging studies are more likely to show up positive in these patients than any other test. Forget about looking for herniated discs, look at brain activity patterns.

    See this study for example:

    There are many others like it. Pain disorders are one of the fastest growing epidemics in our nation, and further understanding them is of utmost importance!

  • Dr. Kamlesh N Patel says:

    To Respected Authority.

    I would like to share some Human-Mind’s great mysteries-exploring unique & special scientific-ideas/clues to your respected-institute, which are as following.

    How an infinity-based functioning psychobiological-unit the “Human-Mind” is constantly (i.e. nonmolecularly-molecularly) influencing & organizing the physically finite structural-organ “Human-Brain,” according to particles-&-waves-physics? Likewise, a nonmolecular-based functioning software-programme is nonmolecularly-molecularly organising the molecular-based physical-structure of hardware-programme of computer-system. Means, how a physical-conitnuity without physical-contiguity is possible, between nonmolecular-based human-mind & molecular-based human-brain, according to waves-physics? How neurotachyone-particles are responsible for the thought-mechanism & its neuroelectromagnetic-field? …

    Dr. Kamlesh N Patel

  • Brad Bishop says:

    Anyone else end up here from fact checking Alex Jones?

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