TEDMED 2013 speaker is brains behind national BRAIN Initiative

TEDMED 2013 speaker Rafael Yuste’s ideas drew a bright national spotlight today when President Obama announced The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a drive that may help researchers better understand the complex workings of the human brain and potentially help develop therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, autism and other brain diseases.

Yuste is co-director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Circuits at Columbia University and co-authored a paper in the journal Neuron last June that proposed new brain-mapping methods.  He helped to plan the current project.

Yuste has pioneered the application of imaging techniques in neuroscience, such as calcium imaging of neuronal circuits, two-photon imaging, photostimulation using caged compounds and holographic spatial light modulation microscopy. He has also recently been involved in launching the Brain Activity Map Project, a large-scale international effort to record and manipulate the activity of every neuron in brain circuits.

The decade-long effort will be funded with an initial $100 million from the president’s fiscal 2014 budget. President Obama was introduced by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, another TEDMED 2013 speaker, whose agency would join in the research efforts.

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