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Top Brain Experts React To President Obama's Brain Initiative

PHOENIX, April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Some of the world's top brain experts at Barrow Neurological Institute are reacting to today's proposal by the Obama administration to create a $100-million project that will explore details of the brain to find better ways to treat neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke. Barrow performs more brain surgeries annually than any hospital in the United States.


Please consider the following physicians and their reactions for current and future stories you are preparing regarding this major announcement. To request interviews with one of these experts, please call 602-406-3319.

  • World's top brain surgeon Dr. Robert Spetzler:The Obama administration's BRAIN Initiative strengthens and emphasizes the importance of mapping out brain function," says Robert Spetzler, MD, world renowned neurosurgeon and director of Barrow. "Although we know a great deal about the brain it remains an incredible frontier for further exploration. The more we understand the function of the brain the better we will be in treating its maladies."
  • Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center Parkinson's Expert Dr. Anthony Santiago:"I want to applaud this initiative and say that it can't happen fast enough," says Anthony Santiago, MD, Parkinson's disease expert at Barrow's Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. "Although we have seen a number of advances in the treatment of Parkinson's disease in the last several years, there are still millions of patients whose lives have been devastated. This major research initiative could be the game-changer as we better understand the neurological changes that are at the center of Parkinson's disease."
  • Brain injury expert Dr. Christina Kwasnica:"This is very exciting news," says Christina Kwasnica, MD, a leading brain and spinal cord injury expert and medical director of the Neuro Rehab Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. "The key to understanding how to rehabilitate an injured brain is to understand how the normal brain works. For patients with cognitive deficits, this initiative can be the beginning of research to understand how what we do makes them better and figuring out why things work in some patients and not in others."
  • Nationally Renowned ALS scientist Dr. Robert Bowser: "This is a fantastic announcement by President Obama," says Robert Bowser, PhD, a leading ALS researcher and Barrow scientist. "This could open many opportunities to understanding and treating the many diseases of the nervous system and is especially important for diseases that require communication among cells across large distances in the body, such as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease."
  • Leading Brain Researcher Dr. Stephen Macknik: "The BRAIN Initiative will provide the critical knowledge base we need to finally understand how information flows through the brain," says Stephen Macknik, PhD, director of the laboratory of Behavioral Neurobiology at Barrow. "It is this, the true information superhighway, that makes us human, and which breaks in all neurological diseases. Nothing is more important."
  • Leading Brain Researcher Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde:  "The President's new initiative puts neuroscience at the tip of the spear of the U.S. biomedical enterprise, and will shape the nation's future strategic role in the development of neurological therapies for decades to come," says Susana Martinez-Conde, PhD, director of the laboratory of Visual Neuroscience at Barrow.
  • Brain Surgery Expert Dr. Peter Nakaji:"As a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute, I am delighted to hear of the brain mapping initiative," says Peter Nakaji, MD, neurosurgeon at Barrow. While we can help many people with brain disorders using what we know now, our best efforts still fail with many. Our current maps of the brain, for all our technology, are still like the charts of the ancient explorers. The secrets this project will reveal will save lives and unlock cures we can only dream of today. I applaud this effort ¾ the brain is the most complicated and wonderful thing in creation, and we are just beginning to understand its mysteries.

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