Two years ago, more than 400 scientists and government representatives
from around the world met at Rockefeller
University with the goal of fostering collaboration on brain research. This
meeting led to the National Science Foundation and a broad group of partners issuing
a declaration to create an International
Brain Initiative to accelerate neuroscience research. With a goal of
cracking the “brain’s code,” researchers are currently working together across
borders to enhance our understanding of how the brain functions.
This week, neuroscientists from around the world will convene in San
Diego for the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting, where NSF and its
partners will discuss how to keep this momentum going.
NSF has a long history of investing in fundamental neuroscience research.
Through the U.S. BRAIN Initiative, we’ve already joined with federal
agencies and private organizations at home to revolutionize our
understanding of the human brain. This international initiative will allow us
to take those efforts global.
NSF and its partners recognize that no single agency, foundation or
government has all the answers in this important area of research, and too much
is at stake for us to work in isolation. Brain diseases and injuries are global
That’s why we’ve taken steps like supporting a workshop held at the
National Academy of Sciences this year to explore ways to establish a global,
dynamic inventory of brain projects. Such an inventory would allow scientists to
know about projects that are already underway. They could avoid duplication and
identify researchers who might be able to provide them with data that would
enhance their own work.
The organizations involved with the International Brain Initiative
declaration know that we have plenty of hurdles ahead, including finding new
ways to coordinate large-scale research projects across the globe and overcome
software and language compatibility issues. By addressing these challenges, we
hope to establish a data portal that can serve as a virtual collaboration hub
Scientists around the world are enthusiastic about this area of fundamental
exploration. What they need now is shared knowledge. This is where public and
private science organizations around the world can help. By working together,
we can push onward to discovery and innovation.
Photo credit 1: Jonathan Lee, Duke University
Photo credit 2:
Courtesy of T. Siapas/Caltech