Brain Initiative

Exploring the role of optics in the Brain Initiative


Optics & the Brain


United States Brain Initiative

In April 2013, the U.S. Administration unveiled the BRAIN Initiative – Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies – which aims to create a new research effort to increase our understanding of the human brain and develop new treatment and prevention methods for disorders such as Alzheimer’s,  schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. 

OSA’s Statement on the Initiative 

In his Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, President Obama requested approximately $100 million for the Initiative:

  • $50 million to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • $40 million to the National Institutes of Health
  • $20 million to the National Science Foundation


European Union Human Brain Project


The European Union has also announced its flagship project to understand the human brain with the establishment of the Human Brain Project (HBP). Through a collaboration of diverse institutes and companies this Project will develop six ICT platforms:

  • Neuroinformatics
  • Brain Simulation
  • High Performance Computing
  • Medical Informatics
  • Neuromorphic Computing
  • Neurorobotics


OSA Events & Activities 

Optics and photonics technologies – including optogenetics, imaging, and biomedical optics – will play a key role in achieving the goals of these efforts and OSA is planning a number of events and programs to support the Initiative and highlight the important contributions of the optics community.

OSA’s Biomedical Optics (BIOMED)
26-30 April 2014
Miami Hilton Downtown, Miami, Florida, USA


Frontiers in Optics (FiO) Special Symposium: Optics & the BRAIN Initiative: Challenges & Opportunities

7 October 2013

Click here to watch the Brain Initiative videoThis special session brought eminent scientists from multiple disciplines to present the current status of optical imaging for neuroscience.

View videos of the exciting special symposium.


OSA Incubator Meeting: Spacially Precise Optogenetics at Depth
Cracking Neural Circuits with Structured Illumination & Ultrafast Imaging in the Intact Brain
8-10 December 2013

A reporter with National Public Radio (NPR), attended the meeting and interviewed Incubator organizer Hillel Adesnik of the University of California Berkeley and Incubator presenter Elizabeth Hillman of Columbia University. The NPR “All Things Considered” radio segment and news article featuring the meeting can be found here.

Interested in getting involved?

Email to share your idea or get to learn how you can support OSA’s efforts. Opportunities include writing posts for OSA’s blog, speaking at or participating in meetings, hosting an incubator meeting, and submitting articles for OSA’s member magazine Optics & Photonics News.

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