US Government Proposes Brain Mapping Project

May 3, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. initiative [ih-NISH-ee-uh-tiv, ih-NISH-uh-] (n.) – a plan or strategy that is designed to achieve a specific purpose
Example: The president proposed the peace initiative to stop wars against rebel groups.

2. incurable [in-KYOO R-uh-buh l] (adj.) – impossible to be treated or be healed
Example: AIDS is one of the most common incurable diseases nowadays.

3. trauma [TROU-muh, TRAW-] (n.) – a physical injury to the body, such as wounds
Example:  Hector suffered trauma in different parts of his body after the accident.

4. formulate [FAWR-myuh-leyt] (v.) – to create something carefully and thoroughly
Example: A young scientist formulated a simple method of recycling plastics.

5. ambitious [am-BISH-uh s] (adj.) – having the strong need to attain a specific goal
Example: Some people end up being disappointed after being too ambitious about their future.

Read the text below.

US president Barack Obama has recently announced his plan to allocate $100 million for a brain research and mapping initiative to further understand the human brain.

According to Obama, the results and findings of the BRAIN initiative could help discover treatments for incurable brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and autism. The president also specifically pointed out the project’s importance in treating brain injuries and trauma, especially among wounded military officers. 

President Obama submitted the budget proposal for the project to the US Congress on the second week of April. Politician Eric Cantor has already expressed his support, describing the initiative as “great science.”  Aside from government funding, the project will also draw funds from individuals and private institutions.

In order to lay out the plans and the details of the project, Obama and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, organized a team of brain experts. Neurobiologists Cori Bargmann and William Newsome will lead the team and will formulate a project report by the end of summer this year.

Last year, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has spent $300 million for his own brain mapping initiative. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has also constructed a research center for brain research.

Some people are not fully supportive, though. Scientist Michael Eisen has already expressed disapproval about the government-led project. Eisen criticized the project for being too ambitious and for being led by government officials instead of individual scientists.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why is it important to study and understand the brain and its functions?
·         Do you agree that more funds should be provided for medical studies and researches? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you believe that your country’s medical and healthcare system is well-funded? Please explain your answer.
·         In what other sectors (e.g. education, tourism, arts, etc.) should the government allot more funds? Why do you think so?


May 3, 2013