Newt Gingrich Gives Obama Props For BRAIN Initiative

Bertel King, Jr

Newt Gingrich released a statement Tuesday commending President Barack Obama's plan to spend $100 million mapping the human brain.

"President Obama is taking a very important step toward the most dramatic breakthroughs in human health," Gingrich said in a statement. "Brain research is vital for Autism, Alzheimer's, epilepsy, Parkinson's, traumatic brain injury, mental health, and a host of other concerns."

The federal government will fund $100 million in research via The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation. The White House states that federal research agencies will partner with organizations that are also investing in relevant neuroscience research. Such companies, foundations, and private research institutions include the Allen Institute, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Kavli Foundation, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The funding for the BRAIN initiative will come out of the 2014 budget.

"When I was Speaker we balanced the federal budget while doubling the budget for the National Institutes of Health," Gingrich continued. "We should have increased the National Science Foundation budget at the same time. One of the keys to brain research is better computation and better storage systems. President Obama deserves credit for taking an important step in the right direction."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took advantage of the opportunity to announce the House of Representative's own plan to fund additional research on the brain. He unveiled the Kids First Research Act, a proposal not yet introduced on the House floor. Cantor said in a statement:

"Mapping the human brain is exactly the type of research we should be funding, by reprioritizing the $250 million we currently spend on political and social science research into expanded medical research, including the expedited mapping of the human brain. It's great science."

The president's speech unveiling the BRAIN initiative can be viewed in its entirety below:

Both announcements came on World Autism Awareness Day. Autism is a brain disorder generally recognized by the repetitive behavior and dampened social skills that it causes. Scientists and doctors still do not fully understand autism, making treatment one of the many possibilities hoped to stem from additional research on the brain. Gingrich, Cantor, and Obama all agree on the importance of researching the human brain, making the issue one of the most elusive kinds to pass through Washington.

[Image by Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]