(Neuroscience Quarterly, Summer 2011)
Cutting-edge neuroscience was presented at a conference May 23–25 that brought together leading neuroscience researchers, patient advocates, NIH directors, members of Congress, business leaders, returning U.S. soldiers, and even Vice President Joe Biden. The event was the first “One Mind for Research” Forum held in Boston.
The One Mind for Research effort, sparked and led by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and businessman Garen Staglin, a longtime advocate for mental health, is urging a national and united emphasis on brain research. The goal is to speed understanding of brain function and treatments for brain diseases and disorders, with an early emphasis on soldiers affected by today’s “signature wounds of war”: traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. SfN leaders helped shape the array of scientific discussion — including genetics, the connectome, the neurobiology of war, emotion and motivation, and learning and memory — and a companion 10-year plan for progress.
Given Kennedy’s passion for brain research and his family’s history of public service, the forum was organized to coincide with the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s call in 1961 for America to rally its scientific know-how to put a man on the moon, with Kennedy modernizing the call to rally for brain research.
“After months of planning, which SfN actively participated in, the One Mind for Research event offered a powerful display of the enormous progress and promise of neuroscience,” said Susan G. Amara, SfN president. “More than ever, it is important to articulate to the public and political leaders the value of research at many levels, from the most basic to translational. The One Mind inaugural effort did just that and it was motivating to me as a scientist to see so much exciting and promising work presented.”
Early SfN Support for Quality Science
Kennedy launched his effort at the Neuroscience 2010 meeting in San Diego (see his speech at www.sfn.org/amhighlights
). Following those remarks, Kennedy and Staglin met with the SfN Council to request the Society’s assistance in developing a strong scientific core for the campaign, and named neurobiologist and Harvard Provost Steven Hyman as chair of the One Mind for Research scientific advisory board. On the heels of that Council meeting, SfN President Susan Amara wrote a letter of SfN support and consulted closely with Hyman and One Mind for Research. The goal was to ensure the quality of neuroscience information presented at the forum and that the plan was of the highest possible caliber, reflecting a balanced focus on basic neuroscience as well as important translational work.
Under Hyman’s leadership, the Scientific Program Planning Committee included 20 scientists and physicians who broadly represent the field. The committee was organized by themes, aligned with four basic science sections — cellular, molecular/development, plasticity, repair/behavioral, systems, cognitive/neurobiology of disease — and two in clinical neuroscience, psychiatry and neurology. Four NIH directors also participated as full working committee members.
The plan, titled A 10-year Plan for Neuroscience: From Molecules to Brain Health, was developed under the leadership of Hyman and the One Mind Scientific Program Planning Committee. Designed as a living document outlining major emerging opportunities in brain research, it also benefited from input solicited from a wide range of individuals in the field. The Dana Foundation provided editorial assistance and SfN provided scientific illustrations. Visit www.1mind4research.org
for a copy of the plan.
Vice President Biden Keynotes Moonshot Lunch
In Boston, on May 25 — 50 years to the day since President Kennedy’s historic speech that focused the nation on a vision of space exploration — Vice President Biden was the keynote speaker at a luncheon that concluded the conference.
Joined at the dais at the President John F. Kennedy Library and Museum by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Biden had much to say about the impact and urgency of neuroscience research: “The promise in this area is unlimited, and the need for further research is immediate. Thousands of our wounded warriors are returning with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. For these and other reasons, our administration has made an unprecedented commitment to advancing understanding of the brain — through the NIH, through the National Science Foundation, through the Department of Defense, and through the VA,” he said. “We’re also supporting Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s bold new campaign, called One Mind for Research.”
“We cannot know with certainty what our fundamental recommitment to science and research and development will yield. But we do know from experience that the results will be greater than the sum of the parts, and the rewards will be far greater than the original investment,” Biden concluded.
A second event is being planned for May 2012, at University of California, Los Angeles, based on an invitation from UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, a neuroscientist. For more information about the Boston event, including videos supported by the Dana Foundation and produced by The Science Network, Vice President Biden’s speech, and the 10-year plan, visit www.1mind4research.org