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12/12/2016 - Statement from Robert Conn, President and CEO, The Kavli Foundation

December 12, 2016

Statement Following the Passage of 21st Century Cures Act

Since being announced in 2013, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative has been driving the creation of innovative new tools that will enable a revolution in our understanding of the brain. The BRAIN Initiative is a strong example of a public-private partnership and at the time of its announcement, The Kavli Foundation publicly committed to spending at least $40 million in support of neuroscience research. With the establishment in 2015 of three new endowed Kavli Institutes in the field of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, Rockefeller University, and the University of California, San Francisco, the Foundation more than met its 2013 commitment. On the public side of the partnership, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and other federal agencies have provided resources to advance scientific research on the brain and the tools needed to study it. These combined resources have in turn enabled great progress by many of the best minds in biology, the physical sciences, engineering, and of course neuroscience in developing the tools needed to understand the functioning brain.  

In the spirit of this public-private partnership, we are pleased to see the National Institute of Health’s efforts to advance the BRAIN Initiative recognized with the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. This new legislation designates the BRAIN Initiative as an NIH Innovation Project and provides additional funds for the Initiative over the next ten years. It is also a strong statement of support for the benefits of these partnerships, and how agencies play vital roles in supporting new and exciting collaborations between federal and private partners. There are now many public and private partners, each in turn bringing different approaches, people and skill-sets to the BRAIN Initiative. Together, this overall enterprise enables us to learn more about the brain than any individual foundation, non-profit, or federal agency could do on its own.  

In the realm of convergent research approaches, defined as a pioneering landscape where participants from the life sciences, the physical sciences, and engineering come together to answer hard questions and make a spectacular impact on science and society, the BRAIN Initiative is a stunning success story. We anticipate that building upon this convergent approach in other fields will accelerate and expand the pace of scientific discovery, just as the BRAIN Initiative is doing for neuroscience today.  

Robert W. Conn, President and CEO, The Kavli Foundation
    December 12, 2016

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