President Obama, along with director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins, revealed a new initiative on Tuesday morning to invest in biomedical research. The president announced that he will send a budget to Congress next week that will include a proposal for $100 million in science research.
The Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is a public-private collaboration aimed at increasing research and ultimately creating an industry of new jobs for middle-class Americans.
Before introducing the president, Collins praised Obama’s dedication to science research and defended the investment. Collins said, “Some may ask how we can afford to talk about investing in bold new research during difficult budgetary times. But the reality is we can’t afford not to. The worst thing we can do in challenging economic times is to stifle innovative thinking.”
President Obama outlined several reasons for the dedication to this initiative. “Computer chips, GPS technology, the internet. All these things grew out of government investments in basic research, and sometimes in fact, some of the best products and services spin off completely from unintended research that nobody expected to have certain applications. Businesses then use that technology to create countless new jobs.”
Not only is it important to the president that the U.S. be at the forefront of innovation in this field, but this research has the capacity to make advancements in the health care field that can result in saving lives. “Imagine if no family had to feel helpless watching a loved one disappear behind the mask of Parkinson’s, or struggle in the grip of epilepsy. Imagine if we could reverse traumatic brain injury or PTSD for our veterans coming home.”
While the president isn’t pushing to build a colony on the moon, he found a surprising supporter in Newt Gingrich on Tuesday. The former House Speaker and presidential candidate said, “President Obama is taking a very important step toward the most dramatic breakthroughs in human health. Brain research is vital for autism, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, mental health, and a host of other concerns.” Gingrich concluded his statement by saying, “President Obama deserves credit for taking an important step in the right direction.”
Tuesday’s statement echoed the president’s promise made during the State of the Union address to invest in up-and-coming industries. “We can’t afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races ahead, we have to seize them. I don’t want the next job-creating discoveries to happen in China, or India, or Germany—I want them to happen right here in the United States of America. And that’s part of what this BRAIN Initiative is about.”
Throughout his speech Obama not only focused on the scientific advancements this research can present in the fields of technology and health, but also the long-term effect this can have on the middle class and the growth of the economy. “If we keep investing in the most promising solution to our toughest problems,” he said, “then things will get better.”
Watch the president’s remarks from the East Room of the White House here.
Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy