A bright future for brain research

By LabOnline Staff
Wednesday, 26 February, 2014

The creation of the Australian Brain initiative, AusBrain, is the main focus of a recently released report to improve and better coordinate Australia’s efforts in brain research.

Launched by Minister for Health Peter Dutton, the report, Inspiring smarter brain research in Australia, proposes that Australia undertake wideranging research into the function and structure of the brain.

Dutton said the Australian Government was committed to investing in research that could help people with disorders and conditions of the brain.

“That is why we announced at the last election that we would inject an additional $200 million into research, particularly in the area of dementia,” Dutton said.

“Our understanding of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression and stroke, amongst many others, depend on high-quality neurological research.”

The recommendations in the paper were developed by a High Flyers Think Tank hosted by the Australian Academy of Science in Melbourne and convened by Professor Bob Williamson last year.

Developing a bionic brain is one idea that has been put forward.

“The bionic ear was developed here, and we are close to designing a bionic eye that works,” Williamson said. “A bionic brain would extend this, and accurately model other brain functions. It could help us to understand and treat conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, brain trauma in soldiers, accident victims and athletes.”

The envisaged AusBrain project would share similarities to international initiatives such as the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN Initiative) in the US.

Dutton said the government would continue to work with the research sector.

A strategy for implementing the recommendations in the report is due to be released later this year.

Details of the Inspiring smarter brain research in Australia report can be found here.

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