LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last Tuesday, in his State of the Union address, President Obama said, " If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. We need to make those investments."
The Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics (SBMT), one of the world's most prestigious and fast growing global multidisciplinary biomedical associations, endorses President Obama's support for investing heavily in brain mapping translational research now, and agrees that the successful effort to put a man on the moon is an appropriate analogy. "We share President Obama's vision; The Society has been at the forefront of translational research in brain mapping for the past decade, with its roots in translating state-of-the art NASA/Space technologies into neuroscience in order to rapidly identify solutions for wounded warriors and civilians with neurological disorders," said Babak Kateb, Founding Chairman of the Board of SBMT, President of the Brain Mapping Foundation, Senior Editor of PLoSOne-NeuroMapping and Therapeutics and Editor of The Textbook of Nanoneurosurgery, Director of National Center for Nano-Bio-Electronics and a research scientist at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
"SBMT broadly defines brain mapping as encompassing the study of the anatomy and function of the brain and spinal cord through the use of imaging (including intraoperative, microscopic, endoscopic and functional approaches), immunohistochemistry, molecular & optogenetics, stem cell and cellular biology, engineering (material, electrical and biomedical), and Nanotechnology," said Michael Roy, President of SBMT (2012-13), Ret. US Army Colonel, and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He continues, "Imagine searching for your house using Google maps. First you get a big picture of the city, then the neighborhood, and ultimately you can distinguish not only your own house, but details like the color of the cars, and pedestrians on the street. Likewise, Brain Mapping provides not only imaging (the big picture) that delineates the structure and function of each region of the brain, but also the fine details of cellular and subcellular elements within the brain such as genomics and proteomics."
With support from the Brain Mapping Foundation, members of Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics have been able to successfully translate many space technologies from diverse agencies and organizations into neuroscience. For example, an electronic nose to identify dangerous chemicals in space has been applied to "sniff out" cancer cells, while use of Carbon nanotubes show promise for potential drug delivery for brain cancer therapy, Infrared thermagraphy can improve intraoperative tumor delineation, and intraoperative UV imaging can enhance brain tumor detection.Such translational research has regrettably received less funding in recent years due to the NIH budget cuts and clearly foundations do not have the resources to foster such translational medical research on a large scale. All scientists are also dealing with lack of funding mechanisms to support the translation of advanced science and technologies into biotech spinoffs, which could create many new jobs in the US; this gap is infamously called the "valley of death."