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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Case for Brain Research

The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed on brain research by Dr. Stanley Prusiner, director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at University of California, San Francisco. and George Shultz, former U.S. secretary of state. Though nominally about Alzheimer's, the idea also applies more broadly to brain disorders:
Remarkable discoveries in the neurosciences over the past three decades demand exploitation. We need to develop new therapeutics from recent scientific advances and to expand our knowledge of how the brain both functions and fails. Nevertheless, research on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases consumes less than 2% of the entire National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. Large dividends will likely flow if Congress and the president enhance the allocation of NIH funds to studies of the brain.

The budget is now in the limelight, and federal funds for biomedical research are reportedly on the chopping block. A thorough look at priorities is essential. The bottom line is that biomedical research can change the history of mankind, resulting in a healthier America that derives large savings from preventive medicine and from the use of innovative and less costly means to treat diseases.

So, lawmakers, as funding priorities are set, think. Use your brain. If you don't, your brain may leave you before you leave it.