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Government Shutdown Delivers Blow to BRAIN Initiative

(Image credit: <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=65181187&src=id'>Human brain image </a> via Shutterstock)

In another casualty of the government shutdown, activities related to Obama's $100 million BRAIN initiative, due to launch in 2014, have ground to a halt. The Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative is an ambitious plan to map the human brain, from the level of individual cells up to entire neural circuits.

But the shutdown may delay the initiative, Popular Science reported. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is providing $40 million in funding, has furloughed most of its staff. NIH workers are responsible for reviewing research proposals and awarding grants to scientists.

"The government shutdown will very definitely affect BRAIN — will bring it to a complete halt in fact," Stanford University professor Bill Newsome, one of the initiative's co-chairs, told Popular Science. Newsome and other members of the initiative's working group spent countless hours writing the interim report that NIH director Francis Collins requested by Sept. 16. But now the ball is in the government's court, and NIH employees can only sit and wait to resume their work.

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Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.