President Obama on April 2 launched a national public-private initiative to map the human brain, adding federal funds to private sector efforts as was done to map the human genome.

The federal government between 1988 and 2003 invested $3.8 billion into the Human Genome Project, with an economic return of $141 for every invested dollar, totaling $796 billion, the White House says.

The goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to discover new treatments, preventions and cures for such disorders as Alzheimer’s, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury, the President said.

According to a White House presentation, the federal government will spend more than $100 million, included in his proposed fiscal 2014 budget, on the initiative through three agencies:

* $50 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to understand functions of the brain,

* $40 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop new tools, training programs and other resources, and

* $20 million from the National Science Foundation to support physical, biological, social and behavioral sciences research.

Private sector contributions start with:

* $60 million annually from the Allen Institute for Brain Science to understand how brain activity leads to perception, decision marking and actions;

* $30 million annually from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to develop new imaging technologies, and understand how information is stored and processed in neural networks;

* $4 million annually for 10 years from the Kavli Foundation to address debilitating diseases and conditions; and

* $28 million from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies to produce a sophisticated understanding of the brain from individual genes to neuronal circuits to behavior.

The federal Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues also is charged with examining ethical, legal and societal implications of the brain mapping research as well as other advances in neuroscience, according to the White House.

An overview of the BRAIN Initiative is here and a fact sheet is here.

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