The BRAIN Initiative, a nine-year-old multi-billion dollar US neuroscience effort, today unveiled its most ambitious challenge yet. It is to create the world’s most comprehensive map of the cells in the human brain. Over the next five years, scientists hoped his $500 million-funded BRAIN Initiative Cell Atlas Network (BICAN) would study how the human brain works and how disease affects it. He said it helps to understand. John Ngai, director of his BRAIN Initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said BICAN “will transform the way neuroscience research is done for generations to come.”
BRAIN, or brain research to advance innovative neurotechnology, was launched in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama. Starting with a focus on tools, we have developed a program called the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network, with a number of papers published in 2021. In this study, we combined data on the genetic characteristics, shape, location, and electrical activity of millions of cells to identify over 100 cell types across the primary motor cortex that coordinate movement in mice, marmosets, and humans. identified. Hundreds of researchers involved in the network are now completing cell count studies in the rest of the mouse brain. It is expected to become a widely used free resource in the neuroscience community.
BICAN now characterizes and maps neuronal and non-neuronal cells across the human brain, which has 200 billion cells and is 1000 times larger than the mouse brain. Hongkui Zeng, director of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, who won his third of BICAN’s funding, said: Zeng says the results of this effort will serve as a reference for a kind of neuroscience Human Genome Project.
Other groups add data from human brains across different ancestry and ages, including fetal development. “We try to cover the breadth of human development and aging,” says Joseph Ecker of the Salk Institute for Biology, who leads the BICAN study of epigenetics. Ngai hopes BICAN will study hundreds of human brains in total, but researchers are only beginning to work out the details. “Sampling and coverage will be a very big topic of discussion,” he says Ngai.
An additional $36 million will fund the BRAIN Armamentarium over three years, announced today. BRAIN Armamentarium develops viral vectors and lipid nanoparticles that reach and genetically fine-tune specific brain cell types. These tools help scientists study cell function and develop treatments for disease.
A third project, called BRAIN CONNECTS, focuses on tracing the wiring diagrams of the mammalian brain. Early next year, he will receive a $30 million grant over a period of up to five years. Overall, the NIH has spent $2.5 billion on her BRAIN so far, and is expected to reach $5.2 billion by the end of 2026.