President Obama today proposed $100 million in spending to map the human brain in hopes of unlocking "this enormous mystery" and curing diseases and traumatic injuries.
"As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can studies particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the 3 pounds of matter that sits between our ears," the president said as he announced the new BRAIN Initiative in the East Room of the White House.
The president said the program, which he first proposed in his State of the Union address, could create jobs and potentially lead to cures for diseases such Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or autism.
"We can't afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races ahead," Obama warned. "We have to seize them. I don't want the next job-creating discoveries to happen in China or India or Germany. I want them to happen right here, in the United States of America. And that's part of what this BRAIN initiative's about."
Obama cautioned that none of this will be easy. "If it was, we'd already know everything there was about how the brain works and presumably, my life would be simpler here," he said to laughter.
"It would - could explain all kinds of things that go on in Washington, and we could prescribe something. So it won't be easy, but think about what we could do once we do crack this code."
The president is asking Congress for the initial $100 million investment in his FY14 budget to support research at the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation. The federal research agencies will also partner with private companies and foundations.