In early November, a group of neuroscientists, medical experts, and policymakers came together at a conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota to talk about the ways different experts could work together to advance brain research and speed up the development of cures for major brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, Parkinson disease, and sports-related brain injuries. One of the main highlights of the event, called Brain Science: The Next Frontier, was the proposal to create an International Center of Excellence for Neuroscience and Psychiatry, headquartered in Minnesota.
The Brain Science conference was meant to build upon the work of the “One Mind for Research” campaign started by Congressman Patrick Kennedy and businessman Garen Staglin. The goal of the campaign is to bring together resources through public and private partnerships in order to discover cures for several brain disorders, from schizophrenia to traumatic brain injury (TBI), that many Americans deal with on a daily basis. As the “One Mind” campaign points out, $8 billion is spent per year on brain research, but the minimum cost of brain disease may actually cost one hundred times that. However, the problem with advancing the science related to brain disorders isn’t necessarily that there is a lack of resources when it comes to understanding the complexities of the human brain. Rather, a large part of the problem is that there are several different research groups working on projects individually, even though findings could be more robust if they built upon each other’s work. Thus, if various science, technology, and financial resources could come together and collaborate through the support of a single organization, it could result in an enormously improved understanding of brain disease. Like the old saying goes, two heads (or maybe in this case, hundreds of heads) are better than one.
The Center of Excellence that was proposed at the Brain Science conference is an example of an organization that could help provide a deeper understanding of something like TBI by combining research and resources from multiple institutions. Though there are currently treatment options that can be tailored to an individual to achieve successful results, the recovery process for people with brain injuries, as well as for their loved ones, can be incredibly long and challenging. If the Center for Excellence is able to pool resources and make new discoveries that could help facilitate the TBI healing process, it would be exciting news for the many people affected by brain injuries all over the world.