The push for SDBC is coming from the community – including various business leaders in San Diego. Most notably the Chairman's Competitiveness Council and Malin Burnham see the need to leverage both the BRAIN and Cal-BRAIN efforts locally to invest in San Diego before another region seizes upon this opportunity. At their urging, Dr. Ralph Greenspan of UCSD organized SDBC.
Creating a public-private partnership can catalyze San Diego as the place to train a new generation of talent; who will likely create new IP early in their careers. Retaining these engineers, biologists and entrepreneurs, and encouraging them to foster their leading-edge ideas by starting companies locally will be key. These new start-ups, as well as existing companies like Qualcomm and Brain Corporation will then become dependent on these unique trainees as they grow. Companies headquartered elsewhere will then be drawn to the talent pool and collaborative atmosphere fostered by the SDBC.
These programs are premised on the successful return on investment of The Human Genome Project, in which the economic impact of the $4 billion investment in the Human Genome Project is said to be close to $800 billion. New instruments were developed, companies started, jobs created, and the field of biotechnology was advanced considerably. In San Diego, we are well positioned to do the same for neurotechnology.
The push for new technologies to map the brain and treat brain disorders offers substantial opportunities for San Diego’s academic research, biotech, pharmaceutical, and information technology communities, as well as related innovators. Realization of this potential will require an ability to leverage federal, state and local public and private investment in new research and its consequent products and services that both understand and leverage the unique properties of the human brain. From tools that map brain activity, to developing new interventions for patients suffering from neurological disorders, to engineered devices based on brain mechanisms, San Diego will play a significant role in an academic discipline and resulting industry emerging with the aid of local research institutions. An unprecedented collaboration between academia, industry and the regional government can lay the groundwork for significant capital and job growth in our region.
In alignment with San Diego’s focus on sustainability and growth of the nonprofit scientific research community in San Diego as a major source of economic opportunity, UC San Diego seeks support to draw together seemingly disparate resources to catalyze a unique public-private partnership by leveraging the strengths of academia, non-profit organizations, private industry innovation, and public sector policy. Together, we can build upon the White House’s BRAIN Initiative and Cal-BRAIN (the California Blueprint for Research to Advance Innovations in Neuroscience).
The San Diego BRAIN Consortium (SDBC) is composed of the participating research institutions in partnership with the entrepreneurial community, to carry out these BRAIN research programs, develop new training programs, and foster new startups to make use of the innovations coming from the research.
For the researchers, such a group can form the basis for generating material support for our regional research efforts, as well as providing a forum for information exchange, facilitation of collaborations, development of training programs, and public outreach.
For companies, membership would confer a seat at the table, giving them early access to new discoveries, and providing access to a local pool of neuroscience expertise that has international standing, and through them to the academic world's expertise.
We have envisioned the SDBC activities as a public effort performed by a combination of experimental and computational laboratories, drawn from neuroscience, nanoscience, engineering, molecular biology and computer science. It will be a team effort that must also include philanthropic visionaries, private industry and nonprofit foundations. The following are some of the expected outcomes and benefits beyond the science.
The SDBC has the potential to play a decisive role in improving technological competitiveness in the U.S., through the training of a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists, aiding in the development of novel teaching strategies based on newly understood brain-function activity, creating new teaching tools and technologies to enhance learning during critical developmental periods, and developing new strategies for rehabilitation after injuries.
The goal of such a training program will be to provide interdisciplinary graduate and postgraduate education and research training to highly qualified individuals, so that they can develop the skills that will enable them to revolutionize technologies for interfacing with the brain, to advance our fundamental understanding of neuroscience, and to apply the principles discovered from research on the brain to development of devices.
The potential to uncover new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent brain disorders like depression, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, addiction and brain injury as well as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease relies on new approaches to understanding the brain. Our ability to monitor the function of neuronal circuits more precisely and globally will permit greater understanding and more accurate diagnoses of psychiatric and neurological diseases. The ability to manipulate neuronal circuits with unprecedented precision and scale will open doors to new therapeutic approaches, where the activity of the abnormal circuit is rechanneled back into a normal range. These outcomes will be more refined and longer lasting than those currently used in deep-brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease and chronic depression, and will produce better brain-machine interfaces and prosthetics for paralyzed patients. Even subtler manipulations can be foreseen for rebalancing circuits that have become imbalanced, as treatments for schizophrenia and autism.
In broader areas of medicine outside of the nervous system, tools, analytical techniques and even theories developed in this realm have the potential to aid in the diagnosis and understanding of biological systems and diseases of aging, cancer, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, among others.
Concepts and tools developed through CBAM will have a broad range of engineering and environmental applications, where sensitive, nano-scale, intelligent systems can fulfill functions that are currently impossible. Further applications are foreseeable where the operation of complex networks and the presence of enormous, complex datasets exceed current capabilities for analysis and control. Moreover, technological advances often produce unforeseen benefits and applications, as was amply demonstrated by the Human Genome Project.
San Diego’s leadership in mapping the brain positions our region to be a national leader in research, technology development, disease treatment and neuroengineering training. By providing the nation’s premiere education in the emerging and collaborative discipline of neuroengineering, we will attract the brightest minds – faculty, post-docs and graduate students alike – to our front door. It is those minds that will create the intellectual property, entrepreneurialism and expertise that will spur economic growth in San Diego.
Malin Burnham, Cushman-Wakefield/SDEDC Competitiveness Council
Pradeep Khosla, UCSD Chancellor
Elliot Hirshman, SDSU President
Kristina Vuori, SBMRI President
Greg McKee, CONNECT Director
Peter Ellsworth, Legler Benbough Foundation Director
Nick Spitzer – UCSD
Marta Kutas – UCSD
William Mobley – UCSD
Shaya Fainman – UCSD
Joe Wang – UCSD
Terry Sejnowski – Salk/UCSD
Ed Callaway – Salk
Stuart Lipton – The Scintillon Institute
Michael Jackson – SBMRI
Karen Emmorey – SDSU
Ed Riley – SDSU
Mark Mayford – SDSU
Barbara Mason – TSRI
Mark Mayford – TSRI
Larry Goldstein – SCRM
Greg McKee – CONNECT
Joe Panetta – BIOCOM
David Higgins – Parkinson’s Assoc.
Susan Hansen - San Diego Brain Injury Foundation
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