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President Obama Promises $100 million to Brain Injury Research

In a promising sign for victims of traumatic brain injury, President Obama has announced a new brain mapping project that will fund research into the areas of Alzheimer’s, autism, stroke, and closed head injury. The project will allot $100 million dollars toward brain research and job creation. In support of this project, President Obama says, “As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears.”

The BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), will attempt to record the electrical activity of each individual cell of the brain and the neural circuits that connect those cells. The $100 million will go to several different federal and private research institutes to fund the development of new technologies that will help spur the brain mapping project, as well as studying the ethical and legal repercussions of the project. The research is expected to start on the brains of small animals like flies, worms and mice before moving on to the more complex human brain.

The BRAIN Initiative is receiving praise from many neuroscientists and researchers across the country. Scientific Director and CEO of the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience David Fitzpatrick, calls the project “spectacular.” According to him, “We need this fundamental understanding of neuronal circuits, their structures, their function and their development in order to make progress on these disorders.”

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the BRAIN Initiative however. University of California-Berkeley fruit-fly expert Michael Eisen criticizes the project as being far too ambitions, claiming that such scientific innovations are not the result of “centralized bureaucratic projects, but rather from individual labs.”

Other critics of the project focus more on its economic impact; $100 million is a lot of money for a government currently in a national sequester, cutting $85 million in government spending. In response to these critics, President Obama focuses on the hundreds of jobs that will be created in the research and implementation of the BRAIN Initiative. President Obama also cites the former success of the Human Genome Project, stating “Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy  – every dollar.”

We have previously blogged about traumatic brain injuries and the difficulties involved in both the diagnosis and treatment of these injuries. While the causes of these injuries are generally understood, they can be extremely difficult to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms the victim may suffer. Traumatic brain injury symptoms can range from obvious physical signs such as leaking spinal fluid from the nose or ears, to “hidden” symptoms like tearing of the brain tissue or blood vessels in the brain. Victims of traumatic brain injury may also suffer serious emotional impact as a result of the injury, such as severe depression, difficulty focusing or remembering, or a lack of impulse control. These emotional effects of traumatic brain injury have been cited as contributing factors in the recent suicides of former NFL player Junior Seau and country music start Mindy McCready.

Overall, it seems that President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative is a huge step in the right direction to understanding the causes and treatments of traumatic brain injuries and other previously misunderstood diseases of the brain. Hopefully this project will result in a deeper understanding of the “three pounds of matter that sits between our ears,” and benefit victims of all types of brain injuries and diseases.

For more information on traumatic brain injury, or if you or someone you know is currently suffering from a traumatic brain injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced brain injury law attorneys at Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation. 727-451-6900.

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