Innovation and Brain Mapping

Gears-in-headRecently President Obama announced an initiative to fund comprehensive brain mapping, especially focused on understanding some of the more prevalent neurological conditions that seem to be increasing in our population. The goal of the brain mapping project is to better understand our neuro-biology and the diseases that affect it, such as Autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s Syndrome or other neurological conditions.

The President has put forth a budget, a mission and a vision. And that’s great. As you would expect, many in the scientific community are very happy about this — the availability of funds; the clear definition of a project, a mission and a vision. But I was struck by one comment by Michael Eisen of the University of California-Berkeley in a USA Today article. Mr. Eisen, a clinical researcher, had a little bit of a negative opinion about the initiative. I think this is kind of interesting and I thought to share it with the Internet community here. His point was that innovation doesn’t come from Washington — it just doesn’t come from an initiative like that. Innovation comes from the labs and from passionate people who want to solve problems. And I have a tendency to agree with him.

Where does innovation, where does passion come from? Is it a spontaneous reaction? Its basis seems to be in this three-part formula:

  1. Funding.  Yes, funding is important. You need adequate resources for innovation to occur.  Many great ideas of the mind have stayed there because of a lack of funding.
  2. A problem.  Innovation occurs when something needs a solution. As they say, “necessity is the mother of all invention.”
  3. Passion for discovering a solution.

When you put these 3 dynamic ingredients together in biomedical research, you create an incredibly powerful environment of innovation and discovery whose outcome contributes to the quality and length of patient lives. I’ve seen more of that passion with the ImageIQ clients than I think I’ve ever seen at any other time in my professional career. I can close my eyes and picture the faces of our clients who are just fundamentally passionate about solving the problems they are researching and trying to address, whether with a new discovery or in the form of a new product brought into the market.

So here’s a thanks to Washington and the taxpayers for funding the brain mapping initiative. We’re excited for the role that imaging and image analytics will play. Now it’s time for the passionate scientists to enter, who are waiting in the wings, grateful that their passion can take flight. Thanks in advance to them, as well.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Dmitriy Kavyazin August 7, 2013, 9:23 pm

    Good article but I don’t completely agree with Michael Eisen. In order to truly map the (whole) brain we will need innovation-galore. This will come in the form of 1. the capacity to store and readily access petabytes of data produced from the imaging 2. machine learning computer algorithms to analyze it 3. faster methods of imaging.

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