Big News for Brain Research

Big News for Brain Research

03.22.12 | By Kaelan Hollon

There's some huge news in brain research today: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen just pledged $300 million to the Allen Institute to promote open-science research on brain circuitry. That donation will help to double the Allen Institute's staff and fund the first four years of a ten-year project, whose plans for "brain observatories" read like something out of a science fiction movie.

Allen's donation is enormous not only in amount but in scope; open research has many people in biosciences fired up, and in learning more about it I picked up a new book called "Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science" by Michael Nielson. Though I've just started Nielson's book, thus far he's made some great points about how the age of networked science is changing innovation. When researchers start collaborating online and rapidly attack problems physics, math or astronomy, answers that had heretofore been unreachable become quickly within grasp. Check out Nature magazine's open innovation pavilion, which lists several public, participatory research and innovation challenges.

Matt Herper at Forbes and Robert Lee Hotz at WSJ both did some great reporting on Allen's donation and what it could mean for Alzheimer's research, neuroscience, autism and mental disorders. They're both worth a read, and I'll be excited to see how Allen's open source brain research center comes along in the next few years.

Follow Kaelan on Twitter @KaelanAtPhRMA

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