Friday, May 27, 2011

One Mind for Research

I just returned from the One Mind for Research conference recently held in Boston. The conference was co-chaired by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Garen Staglin from the International Mental Health Research Organization. The group convened to outline a 10-year roadmap for neuroscience research and lay the groundwork for innovative funding models to support basic neuroscience research.

We heard from a wide variety of presenters, who demonstrated the great progress and prospects for research into neurological diseases. They shared amazing findings, including groundbreaking research into Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Alzheimer’s Disease, and Brain Computer Interfaces.

Throughout the scientific sessions, we also heard from the patients and care-givers who told deeply personal stories about the devastation and burden of mental diseases. Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA-7) told the story of his mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s and how his father took care of her. Former Senator Max Cleland provided a vivid retelling of his experience in the Vietnam War, which robbed him of his legs and one of his arms and took a deep mental toll.

Mary Woolley, the CEO of Research!America provided closing remarks to the second day of the conference. In her remarks, she drew parallels to JFK and the civil rights era, as a demonstration of what we can accomplish as a nation when we unite for change.

The conference culminated on May 25th, the 60th anniversary of JFK’s famous Moonshot speech, in which President Kennedy challenged our nation to put an American on the Moon. In a fitting tribute, Vice-President Biden joined the conference participants at the JFK Presidential library in support of Kennedy’s One Mind initiative and brain science. Colonel ‘Buzz’ Aldrin also spoke and described his vision for space exploration in the 21st century.

Overall, the conference was a crash course in cutting-edge neuroscience and a vivid look into the lives and loss of those who suffer from mental illness. Visit the One Mind for Research website to view conference highlights and the roadmap.

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