Chancellor Gene Block led a delegation to the White House for President Obama's announcement today of a new federal effort to fund research to better understand the structure and function of the human brain.
Also attending from UCLA were Vice Chancellor for Research James Economou; professor Kelsey Martin, chair of biological chemistry and head of a group that is encouraging collaboration among the campus's neuroscience community; Paul Weiss, director of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA and a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and of materials science and engineering; and Anne Andrews, the Richard Metzner Endowed Chair in Clinical Neuropharmacology, and professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and of chemistry and biochemistry.
They were among the invited guests for the president's introduction of the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), which is intended to help fund research on new ways to treat, cure and prevent brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury. The president said his proposed 2013–14 budget would include $100 million for the program. (Read the White House's blog post on BRAIN.)
UCLA is well positioned to play a significant role in the effort and to secure federal funding because of its strength not only in neuroscience but in nanotechnology, psychology, psychiatry and other academic fields, and because the disciplines at UCLA work closely together.
Even before President Obama's announcement, UCLA was in the early stages of developing interdisciplinary teams to address the brain research initiative and other "Grand Challenges" introduced by the White House — national or global research initiatives that are intended to improve lives and spur economic development.
President Obama announces the BRAIN Initiative: