Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, in collaboration with The Kavli Foundation, The U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Global Partnerships Forum, hosted a side event during the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) high level week to elevate brain science as a foreign policy priority. The world confronts tremendous social and economic burdens derived from brain diseases, with an estimated global cost of $6 trillion USD spent on issues related to mental illness alone by 2030. Developing and deploying new technologies to improve mapping of the brain and its functions will be critical for understanding the biological underpinnings of neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, and traumatic brain injury. Understanding such diseases is a G7 priority under Japan’s leadership and contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 – ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all.
International collaboration among governments, the private sector, academia, and philanthropic organizations will be essential for tackling a task as complex as understanding the human brain. Toward this end, the United States, in collaboration with Japan, Germany, Argentina, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, announced the launch of an International Brain Initiative, part of which is a virtual International Brain Station, to enhance and facilitate global collaboration on both basic and disease-focused brain science research.
The International Brain Initiative launch event featured remarks by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology John Holdren, and Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation France Córdova, and followed the Coordinating Global Brain Project conference (www.rockefeller.edu/globalbrain) at Rockefeller University where scientists, funding agencies, and private foundations from around the world met to coordinate global investments in brain research. The International Brain Initiative aims to foster coordination of large-scale brain projects around the world in partnership with governments, research institutions, private sector, foundations, advocacy groups, and social innovators. With its genesis in the scientific community, the International Brain Station concept will be a community-based mechanism for coordinating data and information from brain science projects around the world.