When the USA president Barack Obama introduced the Brain Initiative to public in 2013, he said that every dollar they had spent to map the human genome had returned $140 to their economy. Based on this data, he was predicting 46 million dollars in 2014 and 85 million dollars in 2015 that USA National Institutes of Health would be spending will have so much higher long term outcome in economy. So then what exactly is Brain Initiative and why does the USA president save high budget to this matter?
Our brain can be likened to a huge computer that processes data. However, it is able to accomplish things more than the capacity of the already existed computers. Constitutively our brain consists of 100 billion neurons, and these neurons create 100 trillion connections among each other. If we ever try to establish this system within the frame of today’s computer technology, the generated machine will be as big as the football field. Whereas our brain is an organ that works the same way effectively and fits in to our skull. The secrecy of the concepts that we call emotion, idea, opinion and sense hid behind these neurons and the links that connect them.
Everything we know about the structure of the brain discovered mostly in 20th century. Especially in 1924 when Hans Berger invented the electroencephalography (EEG) and also technologic innovations such as tomography and magnetic resonance coming into use in 70’s and 80’s can be considered as important milestones. The effect of these developments is not only about understanding the brain structure and mechanism of disease, but also at the same time it caused progress in the treatment techniques. Although discovered techniques create important changes in patients’ quality of life, there is still a long way to go. For instance, there is no exact treatment for Alzheimer and Parkinson, diseases that especially affects the aging population. Also there are effective medication for the treatment of psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, but yet they still need to be developed even further. All these data show that more researches should be done on brain diseases and first step of the research is understanding the brain structure.
Brain initiative that President Obama introduced, aims the use of innovative technology for understanding the fundamental functioning of the brain and neurons, and understanding the diseases such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer, Parkinson and depression better. For this purpose, to support brain researches, it is decided to allocate huge amount of fund. In his speeches, President Obama states this initiative will bring two important advantages to the USA. First advantage will be patient’s getting effective treatment with the better understanding of the brain. Second advantage is strategic. As a matter of fact President Obama believes that outcome of these researches will have serious contribution to the economy, they will pave the way for new fields of business and jobs, and they will affect not only the patients with neurologic and psychiatric diseases but also whole USA citizens.
The main aim of the Turkish American Neuropsychiatric Association is to establish clinical and research cooperation in the neuropsychology field both with Turkish and American scientists. In peculiar, the Association aims to contribute what President Obama accelerated brain researches with brain initiatives, to encourage Turkish and American researchers to brain research, to arrange joint project and to make easier for two countries’ scientists to apply for co-funds, and to organise events to make information sharing easier for those who study in the field of neuropsychiatry in both countries and lastly to perform informing activities in international organisations.