Michelle Freund

Michelle Freund
National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, Maryland, United States

Special session on Large Scale Brain Initiatives

Will talk about: The BRAIN initiative

Bio sketch:

Dr. Michelle Freund, is Chief, Molecular Biotechnology and Neurotechnology Programs at the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD. As program officer, she oversees research projects that are focused on the development of novel tools and technologies important for the advancement of basic and translational neuroscience.  She is an active member of several trans-NIH interdisciplinary teams such as the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience and the NIH Common Fund Program.  Michelle received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Hahnemann University and B.A. from the University of California, San Diego.   Before joining NIH in 2007, she studied the role of monoamine neurotransmitters in the actions of antidepressant drugs and the interactions of stress and drug addiction.

Talk abstract:

On April 2, 2013, President Obama announced the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, “giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember.”  This initiative, launched with a proposal for federal funding of $100M in the next fiscal year, will be led by the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), along with additional funds from private partners including the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Kavli Foundation, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Earlier versions of such a proposal, called the “Brain Activity Map”, were developed at a series of meetings sponsored by the Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science.  BRAIN will extend that vision, with broad input from the neuroscience community as well as several related disciplines vital for technology development (nanotechnology, materials science, computational science, and many others).

The NIH BRAIN Initiative will begin with a group of 15 external advisors charged to develop a scientific plan that will (a) identify areas of high priority (i.e. improving current tools, identifying new directions); (b) develop some principles for achieving the goals of the BRAIN Initiative (i.e. balance between individual groups and large consortia, balance between problem-solving and technology driven science); (c) suggest opportunities for collaboration with foundations, industry, and other agencies; and (d) deliver specific recommendations for timelines, milestones, and cost estimates.

The EU Human Brain Project, the Human Connectome Project, and the INCF are important complementary efforts. Together these represent an unprecedented global focus on brain mapping with potential not only for a deeper understanding of brain function but for improved diagnostics and therapeutics of neuropsychiatric disorders.