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Obama names self ‘Scientist-in-Chief’ — asks Congress for $100 million for ‘BRAIN Initiative’

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By Doug Powers  •  April 2, 2013 07:02 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

In February it was reported that the Obama administration would soon be announcing a ten year plan to create a human brain map. I speculated the plan then might include putting America back to work folding it. That time is now:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed an effort to map the brain’s activity in unprecedented detail, as a step toward finding better ways to treat such conditions as Alzheimer’s, autism, stroke and traumatic brain injuries.

He asked Congress to spend $100 million next year to start a project that will explore details of the brain, which contains 100 billion cells and trillions of connections.

That’s a relatively small investment for the federal government — less than a fifth of what NASA spends every year just to study the sun — but it’s too early to determine how Congress will react.

Obama said the so-called BRAIN Initiative could create jobs, and told scientists gathered in the White House’s East Room that the research has the potential to improve the lives of billions of people worldwide.

“As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away,” Obama said. “We can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears.”

As with many other government proposals, first you get the money for it, then you try and figure out what the hell you’re going to do with it:

The goals of the work are unclear at this point. A working group at NIH, co-chaired by Cornelia “Cori” Bargmann of The Rockefeller University and William Newsome of Stanford University, would work on defining the goals and develop a multi-year plan to achieve them that included cost estimates.

The NIH already spends $5.5 billion a year on neurosciences.

Obama is now fully qualified to help lead the study, because he’s named himself Scientist-in-Chief:

At a speech this morning at the White House to outline a new science initiative, President Barack Obama named himself “Scientist-in-Chief.”

“I’m glad I’ve been promoted Scientist-in-Chief,” Obama said to laughter at the White House. “Given my grades in physics, I’m not sure it’s deserving. But I hold science in proper esteem, so maybe that gives me a little credit.”

Doing his part to contribute to the mapping effort, Joe Biden made a selfless offer.

Video via Twitchy:

**Written by Doug Powers

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