Science Policy
day one project

Establish a $100M National Lab of Neurotechnology for Brain Moonshots

06.07.21 | 2 min read | Text by Rafael Yuste & Kenneth Shepard & Day One Project

A rigorous scientific understanding of how the brain works would transform human health and the economy by (i) enabling design of effective therapies for mental and neurodegenerative diseases (such as depression and Alzheimer’s), and (ii) fueling novel areas of enterprise for the biomedical, technology, and artificial intelligence industries. Launched in 2013, the U.S. BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative has made significant progress toward harnessing the ingenuity and creativity of individual laboratories in developing neurotechnological methods. This has provided a strong foundation for future work, producing advances like:

However, pursuing these ambitious goals will require new approaches to brain research, at greater scale and scope. Given the BRAIN Initiative’s momentum, this is the moment to expand the Initiative by investing in a National Laboratory of Neurotechnology (NLN) that would bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers and engineers with combined expertise in physical and biomedical sciences. The NLN team would develop large-scale instruments, tools, and methods for recording and manipulating the activity of complex neural circuits in living animals or humans — studies that would enable us to understand how the brain works at a deeper, more detailed level than ever before. Specific high-impact initiatives that the NLN team could pursue include:

The BRAIN Initiative currently funds small teams at existing research institutes. The natural next step is to expand the Initiative by establishing a dedicated center — staffed by a large, collaborative, and interdisciplinary team — capable of developing the high-cost, large-scale equipment needed to address complex and persistent challenges in the field of neurotechnology. Such a center would multiply the return on investment in brain research that the federal government is making on behalf of American taxpayers. Successful operation of a National Laboratory of Neurotechnology would require about $100 million per year.

To read a detailed vision for a National Laboratory of Neurotechnology, click here.