In the last decade alone, scientists have made a number of landmark discoveries that now create the opportunity to unlock the mysteries of the brain, including the sequencing of the human genome, the development of new tools for mapping neuronal connections, the increasing resolution of imaging technologies, and the explosion of nanoscience. These breakthroughs have paved the way for unprecedented collaboration and discovery across scientific fields. While these technological innovations have contributed substantially to our expanding knowledge of the brain, significant breakthroughs in how we treat neurological and psychiatric disease will require a new generation of tools to enable researchers to record signals from brain cells in much greater numbers and at even faster speeds. This cannot currently be achieved, but great promise for developing such technologies lies at the intersections of nanoscience, imaging, engineering, informatics, and other rapidly emerging fields of science and engineering.
Dr. Cori Bargmann describes how the National Institutes of Health established a high-level working group to define detailed scientific goals for the NIH’s investment, and to develop a multi-year scientific plan for achieving these goals, including timetables, milestones, and cost estimates.