SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A new, decade-long effort to study the deepest workings of the human brain could get a major funding boost if, as expected, President Obama includes the Brain Activity Map project in his proposed federal budget next month.

“Brain injury and brain diseases are really one of the last great frontiers of medicine,” suggested Geoff Manley, M.D., Chief of Neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital and Vice Chair of Neurosurgery at UCSF.

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The president made reference to brain research in his most recent State of the Union address, fueling speculation that the project, which is said to be in the planning stages with assistance from a handful of scientists and research institutions around the country, could formally get off the ground sooner rather than later.

The goal is said to be to gain a deeper understanding of how the brain functions and use that information to better treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and traumatic brain injuries.

“Many of our imaging technologies are allowing us to see the brain in ways that simply weren’t possible ten years ago,” Manley expalined. “As we have more effective treatments for infectious disease, cancer and heart disease, diseases of the brain or injuries to the brain continue to rise year by year in terms of their cost and impact to society.”

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Manley envisions a wide partnership forming for the project.

“Not one institution, not one investigator, not one company is going to solve this pressing public health need. This is going to require a collaborative effort,” Manley said.

The White House has thus far declined to comment on specifics of the project or otherwise respond to speculation about funding for it. By some estimates, the Obama Administration could propose spending as much as $3 billion over the course of a decade to fund the project.

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