Patrick Kennedy’s uncle had a wild dream in the 1960’s. That uncle happens to be John F. Kennedy and that dream was to put an American on the moon.
Now, Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island, has a lofty dream of his own. He wants to find a cure for brain disease with a “moon shot to the mind.” “If we can go to outer space, we can go to inner space, Kennedy told Kathleen Kenna of thestar.com.
Kennedy is a co-founder of One Mind for Research a non-profit aimed at speeding up global research for brain trauma and disorders. His partners in the venture are private equity investor Garen Staglin and his wife Shari, whose son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1990.
“We want the next generation to live free of brain disease,” Staglin told Kenna. “There’s a strong sense of urgency.” They hope to be able to cure brain diseases within ten years.
That may seem ambitious at the least, but Kennedy points to what his famous president uncle accomplished in a very short time. It took seven years for President Kennedy’s 1962 speech to Congress about sending an American to the moon to become a reality.
One Mind for Research has gained recent support caused by the huge rise in suicide, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD among American’s returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“If we can be so excited about Neil Armstrong and his famous words, ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,’ then why can’t we appropriate that same sense of pride and patriotism for a veteran stepping out of a wheelchair because we’ve repaired the spinal cord — which we can do in 10 years — or a veteran making one step out of his house after (being homebound by) anxiety and depression?” Kennedy asked.
Staglin gave a more disturbing view on how important this type of research is. “Most of [the soldiers] are choosing to die by suicide than on the battlefield. That’s unacceptable.”
There is just one issue standing in the way of Kennedy’s vision. “I think the fundamental missing piece is the political will. What got us to the moon in 10 years was the poliical drive. […] They were determined to win, no matter what the cost. We need to have that same esprit de corps, frankly the same esprit that our soldiers have.”
For the sake of those we have fighting overseas, let’s hope Kennedy is able to foster that kind of ambition and spirit.